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E AT D R I N K S H O P P L AY L I V E WO R K L E A R N G I V E S TAY
@ T H E LO C A L H E L E N A @ T H E LO C A L _ H E L E N A I N F O@ T H E LO C A L - H E L E N A . COM
Cover Photo by Susan Adams
GOVERNOR’S CUP Marathon | Half Marathon | Marathon Relay 10K | 5K | Fun Run & Kids Marathon
2 nd Weekend in June HELENA, MONTANA
For more information and registration visit: govcupmt.com
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CON T E N T S T H E L O C A L H E L E N A V O L . 1 / S P R I N G 2 0 1 8
B R O U G H T TO YO U B Y :
4 . WE L COM E
6 0 . L I V E 6 2 . H OWDY , N E I G H B O R Helena’s Neighborhoods 6 6 . I N T H E L I M E L I G H T :
Learn how to use this guide and get to know the contributors
6 . H E L E N A
U N COMMON G R O U N D About Your Montana Real Estate Concierge
About the Capital City
7 6 . WO R K 7 8 . U N P R E C E D E N T E D WO R K S PA C E The Sidecar: Helena’s Co-working Space 8 0 . WOM E N ' S L E A D E R S H I P N E T WO R K Inspiration and Support to Achieve Your Dreams 8 2 . L E A R N 8 4 . L I F E L ON G L E A R N I N G 8 6 . G I V E 8 8 . A B I G F OOT P R I N T An Intro to the Helena Nonprofit Scene 9 0 . S TAY 9 2 . H I S TO R I C B E D & B R E A K FA S T S 9 3 . O U R A I R B N B P I C K S
8 . E AT 1 0 . TA S T E T H E TOWN 1 6 . S WE E T T R E AT S 2 0 . D R I N K 2 2 . C R A F T CO C K TA I L S Feature: Gulch Distillers 2 4 . Q & A With Gulch Distillers 2 6 . NOT YO U R A V E R AG E C U P O F J O E
Restaurant Reviews + Locals Recommend
Get to know the coffee shops around town 2 8 . M E E T H E L E N A ' S B R EWE R I E S 3 2 . R E D S , WH I T E S , A N D B U B B L I E S Feature: The Hawthorn Bottle Shop & Tasting Room 3 6 . P L AY 3 8 . B I G A R T , S MA L L TOWN The Art Scene in Helena 4 2 . U NO B S T R U C T E D V I EW S A Guide to Helena’s Trail System 4 8 . YOG A & M E D I TAT I ON Yoga Studios Around Town 5 2 . S HO P 5 4 . T H I S P L A C E WE C A L L H OM E Feature: fourOsix 5 8 . S H O P S MA L L
T H A N K YO U TO O U R M E D I A PA R T N E R S !
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Contributors TO T H E LO C A L
CLAIRE BACHOFNER // Lead Writer & Copy Editor
CASSIE PARR // Co-Creator & Promotions
ALLIE REYNOLDS // Co-Creator & Designer
JASON O’NEIL // Photographer
CARLY GARRISON // Writer
SAM ERICKSON // Videographer
HANNAH STIFF // Writer
ERIC SIVERS // GIS Mapping
JENNIFER DU TOIT // Writer
SUSAN ADAMS // Cover Photography
SARAH ELKINS // Writer
C A L L I N G A L L C R E AT I V E S ! Help us take The Local to the next level. We're seeking talented writers, photographers, videographers, and creators to help us with Vol. 2. Interested? Contact us! firstname.lastname@example.org
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Welcome. We’re happy to announce that Helena, formerly known as the “sleepy government town”, is being redefined. This publication was created by a collective group of people who love Helena and want to share this special place with YOU. We want you to hike our favorite trails, taste our favorite dishes, shop our favor- ite stores, drink our favorite beer, sip our favorite cocktails, and experience our town the way a local does. HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE: The Local is not, by any means, an exhaustive list of every
wonderful business in Helena. Instead, it is a personal invitation. It is a collection of some of our favorites. It is what we would say if you stopped us on the street and said, “We’re new to town, where should we go?” And, that being said, we want to hear more about your favorite spots and local businesses. We are already working on Vol. 2 and truly value the input of all who love Helena as much as we do! Please share your stories and local tips with us on our website: www.thelocal-helena.com Our greatest hope is that you will explore all The Local has to offer: click, watch, listen, read, interact, explore, share, and come back to visit again and again. The Local aims to be a live resource rather than a stagnant, short-term here today, gone tomorrow publication. That is why we’ve gone digital. Trust us, you’ll want to check it out. Most Helenans have been asked “So, you live in Helena? What do you even to do there?” Next time someone asks, just smile politely, and ask them if they’ve heard of ‘The Local’. We look forward to seeing you around town. PHYSICAL: Pick this guide up at local businesses! Get the full list of spots here. n
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About H E L E N A , M T
In Helena, we take our quality of life very seriously. Look, when you love where you live, it’s contagious. You want to share that love with others. You want to take care of your community and connect deeply with people. You want to experience the area to its fullest. Whether you’re hiking peaks, biking trails, fishing rivers, boating lakes, drinking locally brewed beer, shopping at downtown businesses or dining at a favorite restaurant, you want to take it all in. You do these things not only because they’re fun and they make you happy but also because, in Helena, you feel deeply connected to them. They’re yours. They mean something to you. And, when something means so much to you, it’s easy to share it in a natural, hospitable way. So, welcome to Helena. We’re glad you’re here. Let us show you around. DOWNTOWN HELENA Our downtown area rocks. In the past 5 years, we’ve gained a fantastic wine bar, a new brewery, a handful of fresh dining options, boutiques, coffee shops and more. And, the businesses that have been on Last Chance Gulch remain because of the amazing ways the businesses combine a whole lot of heart with a whole lot of quality. It’s just how you’d
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FISH ON! Fly fishing is major in Helena. We are close to the longest river in North America, the Missouri, a main fly fishing destination and recreational site. It is home to countless caddisflies, midges, and mayflies. Fish come here to feast. In addition to the Missouri, Helena is surrounded by smaller rivers and streams that provide endless fishing possibilities. SNOW DAYS During the winter months, Great Divide Ski Area is bustling with snowboarders and downhill skiers. It is usually the very first ski area to open each year. Locally owned, Great Divide hosts many fun events and offers night skiing on Fridays which is a blast for all levels. There are also many snowshoe and cross- country ski trails surrounding Helena. Snowshoeing is a great way to take in amazing views of the mountains, get fresh air and beat the winter blues. The Helena area offers tons of options for cross country skiing as well. To name a few, the Bill Roberts golf course (great for beginners) which has mild slopes and is right in town! MacDonald and Stemple Passes are also conveniently close wilderness areas where you can really enjoy the peaceful open space of the outdoors. (Information from VisitHelena.com) HIKING & BIKING Helena is also known for its extensive trail system which provides great mountain biking, hiking and trail-running. Many Helena residents boast that the trails are “in their backyard,” which is a perfect way to describe it. Helena offers over 80 miles of trails that you can access from right downtown. n
want a downtown to feel and we’re beyond lucky to have such a thriving and great example here in our town. The Historic “Last Chance Gulch” is the main street downtown. Not only is the street lined with incredible businesses up and down the entire gulch but it’s also home to Montana’s only outdoor walking mall. This means casual, unhurried strolling down historic cobblestone streets. It means kids can run freely and parents can relax. It means we have a wonderful gathering place to eat ice cream and catch up with neighbors and friends. It means great patios and outdoor dining at several spots along the way. HELENA ART SCENE Helena has a surprisingly booming art scene. The Holter Museum of Art has been gracing the community with unique exhibits since 1987. The Myrna Loy Center presents live performances and feature films every week and has been doing so since 1976. There are also many local galleries in the downtown area that feature local artists as well as nationally acclaimed artists. Whether you’re looking for a traditional western art aesthetic or more of a contemporary style, Helena galleries have got you covered. WATER, WATER, EVERYWHERE If you enjoy time on the water, Helena is the place for you! North of Helena, the Missouri River forms 3 large lakes including Canyon Ferry, Holter, and Hauser lakes. These bodies of water offer sailing, boating, and fishing in the summer as well as ice fishing in the winter. Visit the local marina to rent a paddle board and hit one of the sandy beaches on Canyon Ferry.
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8 | WWW.T H E L O C A L- H E L E N A . COM Pictured: Taco del Sol
P H OTO B Y : J A S ON O ’ N E I L
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Taste T H E TOWN
B A D B E T T Y ' S B A R B E C U E 812 Front Street, Helena, MT 59601 (406) 459-2303 Bad Betty’s Barbecue boldly lives up to their die-hard name in every way. From the moment you step through the door, your senses will light up, your mouth will water, and your stomach will growl. This is a deliberately small and focused operation, specializing in the smoky, the sweet, the tender. Casually kind, straightforward counter service, a spacious dining area with just the right amount of hip, warm, bbq-based pizazz, and flavor-packed meals that are delivered to your table in minutes will leave you feeling satisfied and content any day of the week. It’s like the best gourmet indoor picnic ever. LOCALS RECOMMEND: The daily special with jalapeño cornbread and coleslaw.
Pictured: Nosh Cafe
is small business at its finest- a very well-oiled machine. The workers genuinely care about getting your order right, offer daily specials with enthusiasm, and check in with you after you’ve gotten your food to make sure you love it. Which you will, trust us. All dishes are perfectly spiced, freshly made and absolutely sing with flavor. LOCALS RECOMMEND: Chips and Salsa, Prickly Pear Pale Ale, Enchiladas.
B U L L MA N ' S P I Z Z A 1130 Helena Avenue, Helena, MT 59601 (406) 443-0004 Ah, Bullman’s Pizza. From the surprisingly cozy wooden bench booths bathed in natural sunlight (and view of Mount Helena!) to the cleverly named, deliciously put together wood-fired pizza, this place is a win through and through. The service is exceptionally hospitable and not a bit stuffy or rushed. Oh, and the pizza? Perfectly flame-kissed crust topped with refreshing ingredient combinations and caramelized, bubbling cheese. They have a great beer and wine list and the main feeling here, as you glance around the room, is contentment. Much better than your average pizza joint, for sure. Their motto is: “Great pizza from our family to yours.” What’s not to love? LOCALS RECOMMEND: The Bridger Pizza (It sounds weird, but step outside your comfort zone and you wont be disappointed). K A RMA D I L LO S 139 Reeders Alley, Helena, MT 59601 (406) 442-2595 Karmadillos is a southwestern style cafe nestled at the top of Helena’s historic Reeder’s Alley in a quaint, cozy old brick building with one of the best patios in town. This unique spot overlooks Park Avenue and has a gorgeous view of Mount Ascension. Sip a cold beer, feel the sun on your face and snack on the most delicious chips and salsa in Helena. Inside things are cozy but, it usually works out just fine, seat-wise. Karmadillos is an order-at-the-counter restaurant and, even if you have to scramble or negotiate a bit to find a seat, it will be worth it. The service is definitely something to behold. One person taking orders, one person doing dishes, bussing and helping with the prep cooking and one person as the main cook. This
L A PA G R I L L 32 W 6th Avenue, Helena, MT 59601 (406) 531-1007
La Pa Grill is a refreshing new take on an old mainstay: the burrito. Let’s face it, burritos are great but wouldn’t they be even greater with funky world flavors and super fresh ingredients? That’s what La Pa Grill is all about. In addition to their stellar menu, La Pa Grill also offers really good beer and wine, and provides a warm, hip, spacious atmosphere with a TV, a sweet shuffleboard table and a great list of events and live music. It’s a refreshingly chill place to have lunch, celebrate the end of a long day or stop in and grab a bite in between weekend activities. Service is friendly and laid back, menu is very customizable and it’s even a great place to find healthy kid options and give them enough space to do their thing. LOCALS RECOMMEND: Buffalo Gypsy or Wrap of Khan with your server’s fave beer on tap. L U C C A ’ S 56 N Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601 (406) 457-8311 Oh, Lucca’s. You are, by far, the special occasion destination in all of Helena. Why? The service is top-notch . The entire room is bathed in a warm, amber light. There is a candle on each table. Linen napkins and proper silverware settings. Riedel glassware. An awesome wine list. Full bar. Amazing food.
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NO SWE AT C A F E 427 N Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601 (406) 442-6954 The No Sweat Cafe has been slinging out hot, from scratch, breakfast and lunch in downtown Helena for decades. The cafe is proudly old- school and it’s good to know that going in. The kitchen is tiny, one server single-handedly covers the nine tables in the dining room. At the counter, regulars sip hot coffee and chat each other up. Most people here know each other and tables converse warmly from across the room. In the background, the chopping of onions, the subtle clanging of the spatulas on the grill, the hearty laugh, and playful banter of the cooks. The menu is hand-written (not-typed) and lists clever dish names (Tibetan Toad, Ole’ Miss, Stumbo Lost Wages) and everything is absolutely made from scratch. It’s just that kind of place. All customers are treated with old- fashioned hospitality. The owners encourage folks to unplug while dining. They actively ask that you be present in the moment, savor your meal and appreciate your company. No Sweat Cafe offers a unique experience that honors Helena hometown glory. Pro tip: Cash or check only, see we told you, old-school. LOCALS RECOMMEND: Pancakes and Sausage, Huevos Rancheros, Coffee. NO S H C A F E 105 6th Avenue, Helena, MT 59601 (406) 996-1011 Nosh Cafe is a quaint little cafe specializing in waffles, gourmet toasts, intriguing “sammies” and fresh soups and salads. Decorated tastefully with just the right touch of vintage charm, you’ll find old photographs, retro kitchen tools, old-fashioned aprons, funky mismatched antique chairs and, of course, mason jars to drink from.
Everywhere you look, people are so thrilled with their meals, they’re trading bites and offering suggestions to their neighbors. The main thing here is, each table is given an ample amount of time to dine. Lucca’s most often seats by reservation only, although there are times when the lucky few manage to slip in. This means, you may have to plan in advance a little, but, once you do get a table, it is yours. You won’t feel any pressure to rush at all, ever. And, it’s best you don’t. Things are timed perfectly here, from amuse bouche to french- pressed coffee with dessert. Trust me, you’ll want to just sit back and enjoy. LOCALS RECOMMEND: Shrimp Fra Diavolo, Pork Chop with Apple and Rosemary, Tiramisu. T H E M E D I T E R R A N E A N G R I L L 42 S Park Avenue, Helena, MT 59601 (406) 495-1212 The Mediterranean Grill instantly transports you to, well, the Mediterranean from the moment you walk in the door. The walls are brightly painted and display murals of oceanic scenes with European flair. The menu offers a huge variety of traditional Mediterranean fair: think olives, hummus, baba ganoush, falafel as well as a whole host of Mediterranean inspired entrées topped with freshly chopped herbs and a dash of extra virgin olive oil. Exceptionally friendly service, a lively and entertaining open kitchen, a spacious dining room with large windows that allow plenty of natural light to pour in all combine to make this place a local gem. In the warmer months, bask in the gorgeous evening glow of the setting Montana sun while you dine. The patio here is large and gorgeous and who doesn’t love sipping wine and nibbling on fresh Mediterranean fare al fresco? LOCALS RECOMMEND: A gorgeous bottle of Italian red, Mini Lamb Brochettes, Bisara, traditional Turkish coffee with Baklava.
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Nosh Cafe has chosen to keep their focus somewhat small so they can really master what it is they offer. Whether you choose something like chicken & waffles or go with a lighter salad, you’ll be surprised by how each and every dish is perfectly seasoned and well balanced with flavor. LOCALS RECOMMEND: Pesto Chicken Sandwich or the Breakfast Sandwich. ON B R OA DWAY 106 E Broadway Street, Helena, MT 59601 (406) 443-1929 On Broadway is all the rage in Helena. Locals flock here for dinner and drinks which makes for a busy, lively atmosphere in a really unique historic setting. Upon the beautiful brick walls are giant, gorgeous paintings of serene, dreamlike Montana scenes. There is often low-key live music in the front cocktail lounge area which makes waiting for a table no problem at all. The soft, low lighting creates an intimate dining experience and the service is friendly and accommodating. On Broadway is known for their craft cocktails, fresh, made from scratch pasta dishes and their generous seafood and steak offerings. Great place for a night out with friends or a sweet little date. Pro-tip: On Broadway does not accept reservations, arrive early in the evening if you don’t want to wait for a table! LOCALS RECOMMEND: Stewed Mussels, Clams Linguine, Gorgonzola Angel Hair, Pear Martini. T H E S TAG G E R I N G OX 400 Euclid Avenue, Helena, MT 59601 (406) 443-1729 The Staggering Ox and Red Atlas have a lot going on. It’s one of the quirkiest places in Helena but super loveable all the same. One thing for sure is, you’ll always be able to order a quick, delicious, (albeit slightly strange) clubfoot sandwich and grab a table.
Pictured: Bad Betty's Barbecue
The place is huge and goes on forever. Local artwork hangs on the walls, there is a large, very interesting and unique sculpture in between the front cafe (The Staggering Ox) and the back cafe (The Red Atlas) which you just have to see for yourself. Beer, wine, espresso beverages and a smaller version of "The Ox" menu is available at The Red Atlas, which is kind of known as a spot for local creatives to gather and share. On any given night, you might stumble into a live concert or poetry reading or, you may just notice writers and artists anchored at their tables typing and sketching away in this place that is, in and of itself, some kind of masterpiece. LOCALS RECOMMEND: The Clubfoot and any local microbrew on tap. Do it! TA CO D E L S O L 21 N Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601 (406) 443-3978 Taco Del Sol is conveniently located downtown, along the walking mall. It is a great place to grab a quick, quality meal. With bright, Latin- inspired decor, fast and friendly service, beer, wine, soda, house-made horchata, and even a few outside tables, Taco Del Sol is a favorite Helena spot for sure. They’re also very family friendly and make the cutest little “baby burritos” that Helena kids love! How locals do Taco Del Sol: grab burritos for the whole family (and maybe chips and queso, too). Meander on down the walking mall to Ten Mile Creek Brewery where you can eat your burritos, have a great local beer and let the kids dance to live music. Then, top it all off with a cone at Big Dipper Ice Cream. Talk about the perfect evening! LOCALS RECOMMEND: Fish Tacos or The Mission Burrito Supreme with local beef carne. The chips and queso are SO good!
Pictured: Taco del Sol
TO I ’ S T H A I 423 N Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601 (406) 443-6656 Toi’s Thai serves authentic Thai cuisine in a cozy little space on Last Chance Gulch. You can smell the aroma of the spices from all the way down the block, no joke. There are not many tables, so it’s a good idea to call ahead and make a reservation when possible. The restaurant is run by young, dedicated entrepreneurs who were trained directly by Toi, the previous owner. Toi first brought the place to life decades ago with her traditional Thai cooking magic. The atmosphere is cozy, happy, friendly and lively and each dish is made to order. We are lucky to have Toi’s in Helena. If you keep an open mind and embrace sitting in a pretty small space, pretty close to your neighbors you’ll be impressed by the authentic flavors and variety of dishes happening at this vibrant little spot. LOCALS RECOMMEND: Beef Panang Curry and Tom Kha Gai Soup. Dinner at The Wassweiler is, truly, a grand experience. Once a rather run-down antique shop, the owners of The Wassweiler have clearly invested a lot of time, energy, planning and (let’s face it) money, into one of the best remodels ever. The ambiance is warm and inviting, and perfectly walks the line between rustic and modern. This place is all about detail from the carefully chosen artwork and fresh flowers to the old fashioned light switches and french-pressed coffee. Food, service, ambiance, decor- you’d be hard-pressed to find something to complain about here. The presentation of the food is gorgeous and the flavors are spot on- balanced, complimentary, unique, fresh. If you’re looking for an exquisite Montana dining experience, put The Wassweiler at the top of your list. T H E WA S SWE I L E R 4528 W US Hwy 12, Helena, MT 59601 (406) 502-1303
LOCALS RECOMMEND: Spiced Carrot Gnocchi, Pan Seared Salmon, Bruschetta. T H E W I N D B AG S A LOON 19 S Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601 (406) 443-3520 The Windbag Saloon has been a staple along the walking mall for decades. Recently, it was impressively and extensively remodeled and updated into what has now become a modern, hip restaurant with a pub-like atmosphere. Some of the original architecture remains intact, brick walls, high ceilings, undeniably cool fixtures and details. And, on a Friday or Saturday night, you’ll find the place packed with people watching sports, catching up after a long week, relaxing and enjoying all “the bag” has to offer. During the warmer months, the Windbag Saloon offers an open air seating area and small patio right on the walking mall that’s tough to beat. It’s a wonderful place to spend a summer evening enjoying an outdoor dinner and cocktail with friends; soaking up the last rays of sun for the day. LOCALS RECOMMEND: Choose a burger, any burger, Bacon Wrapped Shrimp, local beer or craft cocktail with Gulch Distillers spirits. Pro tip: This spot is rich in history. Take time to read the section about Big Dorothy’s on the menu. It will make you enjoy the place even more! n R E S O U R C E S : CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO LEARN MORE! COM P L E T E L I S T O F P L A C E S TO E AT
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Sweet T R E AT S
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COT TON TO P PA S T R I E S 44 S Park Ave, Helena, MT 59601 (406) 449-8424 Welcome to the sweetest, most unbelievably located, craft pastry shop in town. This one woman show will blow you away. First of all, the shop is located in Helena’s historic Reeder’s Alley, in a tiny cabin from WAY back when. Upon approaching the shop, you might wonder, is this place even real? Once inside, the smell of fresh baked pie, melt in your mouth shortbread, fresh, perfectly fluffy scones and flaky chocolate croissants will convince you that, indeed, this is the real deal. You’ll want to arrive as early as possible, though, if you have a particular craving as Cotton Top often sells out early and when they do, that’s it for the day. Find Cotton Top Pastries at the Helena Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings April - October. LOCALS RECOMMEND: Sea salt oat cookies, lavender dark chocolate scones, ham and cheese croissants. PA R K AV E N U E B A K E R Y 212 S Park Ave, Helena, MT 59601 (406) 431-5859 Park Avenue is Helena’s hometown bakery. Open 7 days a week, it is a great place to have coffee with friends, connect with members of the community, savor the magic of a perfectly flaky croissant or fresh slice of cake. Park Avenue bakery has won the hearts of locals with their exquisite pastries, delectable desserts, expertly baked breads and focaccia style pizza. Inside the bakery older couples sit at bistro tables, quietly enjoying each other’s company. Business people glance over the local newspaper before heading to work for the day, customers dash in to grab a loaf of
PHOTOS by HOLLY WIEST WRITING by CLAIRE BACHOFNER B I G D I P P E R I C E C R E AM 58 N Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601 (406) 513-1051 Big Dipper Ice Cream is a BIG deal in Helena. The small town ice-cream shop specializes in unique flavors like cardamom, chai, huckleberry, and prickly pear sorbet, to name a few. They also offer homemade waffle cones (highly recommended) which emit a powerful heavenly scent in and around the shop. If you opt for a Starship Sundae, the brownies are baked by a local shop down the street. During the warmer months, the line is long but so worth the wait. And, you will often see folks and families chatting and catching up while they wait in line. It’s less of a drag and more of a social event. Welcome to the Helena lifestyle. Because Big Dipper is situated on the walking mall, kids eat their ice cream and frolic freely. High-schoolers hold hands on first dates. Sometimes, there’ll be a musician playing out front in the main gathering spot of the walking mall. Sometimes, a food truck. Last summer, someone brought a piano down and it became the highlight of many evenings downtown (though the ice cream covered keys needed cleaning from time to time). If you’re looking for a great spot to pass a summer evening, delicious craft ice cream cone in hand, look no further than Big Dipper Ice Cream. LOCALS RECOMMEND: Salted Caramel or White Mint Oreo in a homemade waffle cone.
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VA N I L L A B E A N 201 N Rodney St, Helena, MT 59601 (406) 443-2257
fresh daily featured bread to go with their dinner or a muffin and coffee on their way to hit the river. Kiddos line up eagerly to choose one of Park Ave’s famously fun sugar cookies. They even offer homemade dog biscuits. You’ll also find artisan products from Italy and Greece: gourmet pastas and sauces, fig jams and olive tapenades, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The perfect compliments to a fresh loaf of handmade bread. Last minute gift, anyone? LOCALS RECOMMEND: The Earl Grey Chocolate Cake, daily bread feature, and pizza dough to go! T H E PA R R OT CON F E C T I ON E R Y 42 N Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601 (406) 442-1470 The Parrot Confectionery has been around since 1922. It is definitely a Helena gem that sits right on the walking mall. The Parrot will transport you back in time in the very best way. They offer specialty hand-dipped chocolates and other candies that sparkle through a large glass case. Each customer has the chance to pick their favorites, put a quarter or two in the jukebox, grab a booth or a seat at the soda fountain counter and enjoy the classic, simple bliss of this extraordinary spot. They also serve chili, popcorn, and all sorts of old-fashioned ice cream and soda treats. The Parrot sells boxed chocolates which make great gifts and this is, of course, one of the dreamiest places for kids to visit while downtown. LOCALS RECOMMEND: Any of the hand- dipped chocolates, Turkish delight, a bowl of chili, a song on the jukebox.
The Vanilla Bean is a charming little bakery and cafe in one of Helena’s most up and coming neighborhoods. Well known for their beautiful, fun, custom order cakes, panini sandwiches, cookies and cupcakes, The Vanilla Bean has gained quite a following. The walls are pink, the bakery is always bustling and, it’s yet another gathering place in Helena where regulars connect with each other on the daily. With excellent fast and friendly service, delicious baked goods and menu items, this place rocks. Oh, and their quiche is to die for. LOCALS RECOMMEND: A slice of quiche or a fancy cupcake paired with a cup of hot coffee. For the kids: made from scratch hot chocolate. PRO TIP: Try to sit facing the window so you can delight in all the neighborhood activity. n
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Welcome to Our House
“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with them… the people who give you their food give you their heart.” - Cesar Chavez
Open Tuesday through Saturday 11 am to 9 pm 442-2595 Located in Historic Reeders Alley in Downtown Helena 139 Reeders Alley • Helena, Montana
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2 0 | WWW.T H E LO C A L- H E L E N A . COM Pictured: Gulch Distillers
P H OTO B Y : J A S ON O ’ N E I L
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CO C K TA I L S
PHOTOS by JASON O'NEIL WRITING by CLAIRE BACHOFNER G U L C H D I S T I L L E R S 790 Front St, Helena, MT 59601
I dare you to find a place more “local” than Gulch Distillers. Owned by two heartful Helena Natives, Tyrrell Hibbard and Steffen Rasile, every batch of grain-based spirits are made using only Montana-grown grains in a facility that was once the Montana Distillery and Bottling Warehouse. The names of the spirits are locally-inspired. Every cocktail incorporates locally-grown produce whenever possible as well as house- made syrups and shrubs. The artwork is local, the website is local, the locals are local. Okay, you get it. LOCAL. What’s more? It’s all really, really good.
Co-Owner, Tyrrell Hibbard
The location of Gulch Distillers is perfect. It’s tucked on a little side street, just a bit off the beaten path of downtown Helena. Once you set foot in the tasting room, there’s no turning back. Your curiosity will pique as you smell the various spirits in process. You’ll hear cocktail shakers shaking, people having quiet conversation, light-hearted laughter, good music at a great volume. Watching the staff work their magic- measuring, stirring, mixing, pouring, it’s a bit like walking into the coolest chemistry class ever, and you get to drink the potion. On the menu: a multitude of craft cocktails (and some really great non-alcoholic options) to suit every palette. Whether you prefer a sweeter beverage (like, the Lemon Drop or Rum and Cola) or a more savory option (like the best Bloody Mary of your life, or the Montini) there’s no shortage of choice here: vodka, rum, fernet, 3 types of gin, house-made amaro, bitters, cola, shrubs, and light snacks. Montana can be a little wacky when it comes to liquor laws and there’s generally a lot of griping when the subject arises. However, Gulch Distillers owners have chosen to reframe things in a positive way on their website: “Montana law provides for the enjoyment of two ounces of alcohol on premise per person per day and the purchase of two bottles per person per day. You only get two, so we ensure that those are the best two ounces you can get. Our craft cocktail program features all house- made ingredients, from our spirits distilled and bottled on site to the mixers we make in house from fresh fruits, herbs, and spices.” And, it’s true. The cocktails at Gulch are something to behold. Well balanced, freshly concocted, beautifully presented, each sip feels like a gift. It’s everything a cocktail should be. For me, anytime something tastes this good and has a great story behind it, I’m in. Such is the case with every cocktail ordered at Gulch Distillers and, as you look around the room, you can sense the intentionality of it all. Everything has been well thought out. Products are creatively designed, the names of each
of the craft spirits are rich with meaning and rooted in local history, ingredients are chosen wisely and measured accurately, every time. As a patron, it feels good to know that so much consideration has gone into each decision. From various comfortable seating options to exposed brickwork adorned with gorgeous, original artwork hanging on the walls and pleasant lighting- the ambiance just really works. The decor is hip, modern, fresh, clean, cozy. The staff are friendly and welcoming but also intensely focused and dedicated to nailing every cocktail, every time. Family and community are celebrated everywhere in Helena, even the distillery. Don’t be surprised to see young families hanging out here together, snacking on pretzels and pub mix, kids sipping on “fancy water” and mom and dad having a little breather. And, each and every Wednesday evening, the distillery hosts “Community Cocktails” benefiting different local organizations which brings awareness, collaboration, conversation and funds to important organizations in the area. Gulch Distillers has gained national attention two years in a row by bringing home awards for their Burone Fernet and, just recently, Guardian Reserve Gin from one of the longest running and most respected spirits competitions in the nation- The American Distilling Institute. So, go. Bring a friend, your family, a good book. Find a cozy spot and kick back. Treat yourself to a fine cocktail, in a fine town, made from the finest ingredients. You’ll be glad you did. n
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2 4 | WWW.T H E LO C A L- H E L E N A . COM Pictured: Gulch Distillers
Q: WHAT ABOUT YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS? A: Launching the Gulch brand stands out to me as the biggest highlight. Winning some medals and national recognition for our spirits is also right up there. We have some much-anticipated products coming out in the coming years that could rival those first successes though. Q: HAVE COCKTAILS AND HOSPITALITY BEEN PASSIONS OF YOURS FOR A LONG TIME? A: My appreciation for the art of distilling preceded my appreciation for the craft of the cocktail, though the two very much go hand- in-hand. I studied in Scotland while in college and was there introduced to pot distilled whiskey production. Over the centuries that industry has elevated the alchemy of transforming grain to spirits into an art form. I’ve been fascinated by that art ever since. Cocktails are more culinary in nature--using different flavors, ingredients, and processes to create something appealing to the eye, the touch, and the palate. And unlike distilling, anyone can mix cocktails in the home. That’s something we have both done for quite some time. Years before the distillery, Steffen and I co-founded a cocktail club with our spouses and friends. Through that club we have explored, created, and discovered many amazing cocktails that have not only furthered my appreciation for distilling and mixology, but also informed the profile we developed for some of our spirits. Q: WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO COCKTAIL AFTER A LONG DAY? A: A Negroni, Manhattan, or a dry martini, depending on the day. n
Question AND Answer W I T H G U L C H D I S T I L L E R S PHOTOS by JASON O’NEIL WRITING by TYRRELL HIBBARD Q: WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PARTS OF OWNING THIS BUSINESS? A: Steffen and I were both born and raised in Helena. My dad, grandfather, and great grandparents were all born here. We grew up in this community and this community is very much a part of us and our identity, and that extends to the Gulch. Personally, building this business in Helena has created another dimension of engagement with the community, a new level of providing value to and playing a role within the community. I most enjoy the creative process of our business: we start with raw, Montana grains- -products themselves of Montana sunshine, soil, and water--and transform those grains into beautiful spirits. Sharing our product, in a bottle or in an intentionally crafted cocktail, with our friends and neighbors and visitors to Helena brings us a lot of satisfaction. The best part of this project is seeing people enjoy the fruits of our labors. Q: WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE SO FAR? A: One of our biggest ongoing challenges is cultivating a cocktail culture in Helena. Helena, like much of Montana, is a beer-drinking community. Cocktails and spirits haven’t had a very prominent role in this culture in recent history. Affecting that cultural shift is a significant and ongoing challenge.
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cup of joe NOT YO U R A V E R AG E
Pictured: Firetower Coffee
F I R E TOWE R CO F F E E 422 N Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601 Firetower Coffee House is a great little gathering place in the heart of downtown Helena. They roast their own beans, make a mean latte and also serve breakfast and lunch. The owner of the shop loves classic rock, particularly The Beatles, Star Wars and being a part of downtown Helena. All of those passions come through here. You’ll notice posters and album covers on the walls and Star Wars specials and trivia questions handwritten on the chalkboard out front. The owner usually works the counter, knows all of his regulars’ orders, and is on a first name basis with most people in town. Bring a book and pick a cozy chair by the fireplace or meet a business partner for lunch at one of the many accommodating tables. Great food, great service, great coffee, great space. Great Helena spot. LOCALS RECOMMEND: Dave’s Burrito, Smoked Turkey Sandwich, Double Latte. H U B CO F F E E 314 N Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601 The Hub. What don’t they have? Breakfast and lunch options, grab and go deli case, pastries, coffee, wi-fi, and a great patio. The Hub is right downtown, across the street from Helena’s walking mall. The cafe has lots of natural light, an active community bulletin board, and local art hung on the walls. You’ll see friends gathered in warm conversation, folks reading the local newspaper, business partners in casual meetings and customers on their computers sneaking in an hour or two of quick work. LOCALS RECOMMEND: Breakfast Sandwich on Rosemary Parmesan Biscuit, Maple Latte, Cold Brew Coffee.
T H E G E N E R A L M E R C A N T I L E 413 N Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601 The General Mercantile has been a mainstay in Helena since 1972. That’s 45 years. It was the first place in town to offer public wi-fi, has a pond with live koi that Helena kids love to feed, a counter where regulars gather and talk about the town, and, they make a great cup of strong, hot coffee. Each cup is made pour-over style, and the espresso machine is a beast of a thing; shiny, manual, glorious, the golden crema is expertly extracted. “The Merc”, as locals call it, is a special place you have to experience for yourself. And, if you’re looking for a great gift or thoughtful card, you’ll likely find just the right thing here, really. It’s tough to leave this place without a smile on your face. LOCALS RECOMMEND: Cup of strong, hot, black coffee, Royal Chai or Tall House Special. S C E N I C B R EW 3091 N Sanders St E, Helena, MT 59601 Scenic Brew is located on the North end of town and is a peaceful haven amidst this bustling area. The vibe here is modern and clear which makes it a really great place to work, study, meet with clients or just catch up with a friend over coffee. Oh, yes, the coffee. Scenic Brew makes an excellent cup of coffee and offers really great teas as well. They have an incredible espresso machine, a great menu, and it is clear their baristas have been trained well and pay close attention to detail. Pro-tip: There are few places to work in Helena that stay open in the evenings. Scenic Brew is open until 9:00 most nights and, during finals week for Carroll College they stay open until midnight! How great is that?! LOCALS RECOMMEND: Latte, Chai, or London Fog. n
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Breweries M E E T H E L E N A ' S PHOTOS by JASON O’NEIL WRITING by CLAIRE BACHOFNER
You’ve heard it before, location, location, location. It’s all about location. The adage holds true for Helena’s breweries. There are currently four breweries where you’ll find Helenans and visitors alike, sipping and storytelling, taking in what each has to offer. Where they land on the map seems to hint at what they’re all about.
Pictured: Blackfoot River Brewing Co.
Lewis & Clark Brewery 1 5 1 7 DOD G E A V E N U E H E L E N A , M T 5 9 6 0 1
Blackfoot River Brewing Co. 6 6 S O U T H PA R K A V E N U E H E L E N A , M T 5 9 6 0 1
Lewis & Clark Brewing Company is situated among an auto body shop, a dance studio, a steel production facility, a lumber yard and the train tracks. It is what you might refer to as one of the more industrial neighborhoods in Helena. Inside you’ll see folks laughing heartily, listening to live music, noshing on pizza or brats, watching football, playing shuffleboard and, of course, drinking beer like it’s their God- given right. Lewis & Clark is, by far, the largest of the breweries and houses an impressive canning facility, digital menus of what’s on tap, a small art gallery, private rooms, a pool table, shuffleboard set-up and darts. Oh, and large stages for concerts both indoor and outdoor. On a weekly basis, Lewis & Clark hosts Trivia Night, a comedy hour and lots of live music. In the summer, the huge patio and outdoor seating area is often the perfect ending to a long, hot day. The motto, “Go Big or Go Home” seems to fit this spot to a T.
Blackfoot River Brewing Company, on the other hand, is conveniently located at the end of almost every mountain biking trail in town. It’s like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Most rides are incomplete without a cold, freshly brewed victory beer in hand to deem it so. BRBC is just on the edge of downtown Helena among, bakeries, restaurants, quaint shops and even the public library. As you walk through the front door, you’re hit with the heavenly scent of popcorn and hops and yeast. You’re likely to see downtown folks having “meetings”, architects, engineers, musicians, and non-profiteers with a passion for their town. You’ll see mountain bikers, hikers, young families. You will most likely find at least one table playing cribbage. Folks here are pretty outdoorsy and all share an obvious love of their town. Blackfoot’s claim to fame is “Real Good Beer Brewed by Real Good People”, the tapline is written in chalk, their merch includes dog collars, folf discs, handmade growlers totes, trucker hats, among the more usual t-shirts and whatnot. Through a large set of windows on the second floor you can survey the scene of large silver vats of beer and bustling brewmasters while delighting in the fruits of their labor. It is cozy inside, and most folks who go here become fast friends because of that. There is a beautiful deck overlooking the town which is hoppin’ during the warmer months. Blackfoot River Brewing Company is definitely a favorite local hangout. Sort of like the Cheers of Helena. Oh, and did I mention, the beer is DELICIOUS.
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Ten Mile Brewing 4 8 N L A S T C H A N C E G U L C H H E L E N A , M T 5 9 6 0 1 Ten Mile Creek Brewery is a bit newer to the Helena scene. I overheard one person sum it up well, “They’re young guys, using their young minds to come up with new ways of connecting to the community and presenting fresh perspectives.” Here’s the deal with Ten Mile: they are right smack downtown. On the walking mall. In a prominent historic building. There is a lot of open space, a play area for kiddos, a board where folks can buy someone a beer and write their name up there for the next time they come in. They have pretzels and locally made potato chips, really good beer, thoughtfully displayed local artwork, and tons of community events. There’s weekly live music and Sunday yoga sessions called, “Downdogs and Draughts” which include an hour of yoga and a beer to top it off. In the warmer months, there is outdoor seating and often really great food trucks slinging fresh original food just outside. They have kombucha on tap as a non- alcoholic alternative. Because the brewery is neighbored by a couple burrito joints, a candy store, an ice cream shop, a yoga studio, and many downtown offices and shops, you’re likely to find a wide variety of imbibers here. Think young families (often with burritos or ice cream in hand), downtown professionals, shop owners, artists and people who generally love to be downtown. Self proclaimed “A Somewhat Organized Community”, the owners of Ten Mile are not afraid to collaborate and utilize local talent in every way which has created a great place to sit back, relax and get a true taste of Downtown Helena.
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Snow Hop Brewery 6 6 5 B A R N E Y S T R E E T H E L E N A , M T 5 9 6 0 2 Snow Hop Brewery is located more toward the North Valley area of Helena. In an area that is known for modern design, new businesses and customized homes, Snow Hop fits right in. The brewery is neighbored by a popular salon, a kids gymnastics gym (that’s handy!), various offices, luxury apartments, and many new homes. People who live and work nearby are visibly excited that there is now a hometown brewery in the North Helena neighborhood. The scene inside of Snow Hop is radically different to that of other breweries in town. They went with a very fresh, modern, edgy feel. Lots of stainless steel, popping colors, open space, and an Aurora theme that is refreshing and gorgeous at the same time. The beer is delish, the servers are friendly and knowledgeable and there’s an overall feel of Helenans gathered together to celebrate a shared love of good beer, good company and good local business. WHEREVER YOU DECIDE TO GO , you’ll likely appreciate the culture that’s been created by our local taprooms. Because there is a limit on the number of beers, per person, the breweries are legally allowed to serve, it creates positive and healthy places to moderately imbibe. Families and children are welcome and love having a place to come, relax and enjoy their time together. The Helena taproom culture fits so well with the laid back local lifestyle here. Visit them all and you’ll see why locals love their breweries so deeply. n
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3 2 | WWW.T H E LO C A L- H E L E N A . COM Pictured: The Hawtorn Bottle Shop & Tasting Room
Reds, Whites, and Bubblies PHOTOS by JASON O'NEIL | WRITING by CLAIRE BACHOFNER
T H E H AWT HO R N B OT T L E S HO P & TA S T I N G R OOM 46 N Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601 (406) 282-0111 When Jill Roberts and Colleen Casey opened the doors of The Hawthorn in 2015, they sought to create a gathering place in downtown Helena that honored their core values: robust community, authentic connection, wonderful flavors, and ultimate hospitality. If you ask me (or anyone in town) they nailed it. It’s no secret that Helena locals carry a deep affection for their craft breweries. Jill and Colleen recognized that affection and saw an opportunity to expand upon it. Why not create a place where wine is just as accessible? Why not take the same casual approach and dress it up just a bit? Offer an atmosphere where guests can come after a long day, or have a place to go for special occasions, a birthday or date night, and have it feel truly special? Why not, indeed. They were the perfect pair to take on that task. Between Jill’s extensive knowledge of wine and Colleen’s natural embodiment of a long standing family tradition of hospitality (Colleen is Jill’s Aunt so, really, this is a shared family tradition) the two women dreamed up what is now easily one of the most popular spots in Helena. Jill’s wine education began during the time in her life when she was waiting tables to help support her career as a young actress. When she moved from Helena to New York, her knowledge and experience expanded and she climbed up the wine ladder, so to speak, as she went from distributor to supplier to wine
coordinator in upscale restaurants making important connections all along the way. It’s obvious when talking to Jill about wine that her breadth of knowledge on the subject is vast. Her experience with the magical way wine encourages people to gather and connect is where her real wisdom lies. And that wisdom carries over into every choice and interaction that takes place within the four gorgeous walls of The Hawthorn. Located on the iconic walking mall, The Hawthorn is a welcome ray of sunshine that has brought new life and energy to Helena’s historical downtown area. There’s always a clever quote handwritten in chalk on the sandwich board out front, music playing from the speakers above the small patio area, a beanbag toss set up in the summer and a gorgeous storefront that beckons in the most irresistible way. Guests of The Hawthorn are treated with utmost respect in a way that feels less like a “service” and more like a way of life. Look, here’s the thing, anyone can come up with a great wine list if they really do their research. Okay, maybe not like Jill, her wine list is killer . However, the thing that makes The Hawthorn so special and rare in this regard is that their list includes wines from all over the world that are challenging to pronounce, let alone know much about, but that doesn’t matter here. Whether guests arrive able to recite the complete history of wine and can order a glass of Lapalu Chateau Patache d’Aux with a perfect French accent, or they grew up drinking strawberry Boon’s Farm from a half gallon jug, they will be treated with the same level of respect. The staff will eagerly share their knowledge and engage in friendly conversation. They meet people where they’re
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at. They want you to come as you are. They go out of their way to put you at ease. Experiencing this level of service anywhere feels like a treat but at a charming little bottle shop in Helena, Montana? It feels like you’ve just struck gold. In addition to the impressive selection of reds, whites, bubblies, beers, and some gorgeous in-between bottles. The Hawthorn also offers a generous list of by the glass pours, a perfectly paired list of light fare ranging from Thai peanuts and jimmy crack corn to chicken liver pate, and cheese or charcuterie boards. Often, there are many “flights” to choose from which is always a fun and interactive way to taste beer and wine and they’ve even come up with a list of “cocktails” that put a new spin on old favorites. Excellent non-alcoholic alternative available as well, of course. The ambiance is warm, chic, rustic, and stylish. Wine bottles are displayed in ways that create
a feast for the eyes. All the different labels, colors, shapes, and bottles combine to create some kind of masterpiece that speaks for itself. There are candles burning at each table, the glassware is exquisite, each guest is given their own tall chilled bottle of water (hooray!), and the bill comes attached to a gorgeous postcard with The Hawthorn location and contact information as the return address so happy guests can share the love. More often than not, great wines come from great family traditions and they carry with them the stories of generations. They are born, cultivated, and fine-tuned through hard work and gathered experience. The end product of picking, growing, stomping, mixing, and blending strives to satisfy. A great wine will warm you at the soul level. If given the chance, the story behind it will enrich and inspire you. The Hawthorn Bottle Shop and Tasting Room is just like that. n
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