The Breakfast Club

The best way to start your day is with these signature dishes from all corners of the valley

By Dillon Tabish
McCabes' Special, a stack of buttermilk pancakes, two eggs and bacon at The Buffalo Cafe in Whitefish. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Don’t be fooled by fancy steak dinners or showy hamburgers for lunch: breakfast reigns supreme in order of importance. Oftentimes the morning menu is overlooked because of its pastoral simplicity — eggs, bacon and toast — but there is no substitute for starting a good day like a great breakfast. And this valley has an abundance of tasty diners and cafes that serve up creative, delicious morning menus.

Here’s a breakdown of my favorite breakfast dishes. This is far from complete; the list could easily go on and include Loula’s Café in Whitefish, the Base Camp in Columbia Falls, Split Rock Café in Kalispell and others. But this should keep you full for awhile.

The Buffalo Café, Whitefish

What You’re Having: Dow’s Huevos

Joe. Big Don. Mully. These are no longer just familiar friends in the community, they’re namesakes for the Metzold family’s tasty dishes that adorn the homemade menu at the Buffalo Café in downtown. Some are perennial favorites, others are newbies added every four to six months, when the menu evolves. A longtime friend, er, menu favorite is Dow’s Huevos, featuring a flour tortilla packed with house spiced chorizo sausage, bacon, cheese, onions and sour cream. To top it off, two poached eggs rest at the summit of this friendly delight.

Echo Lake Café, Bigfork

What You’re Having: Breakfast Burrito

This beloved source of breakfast first opened its doors in 1960 serving fresh, homemade dishes that never disappoint. One of its staples is the burrito, which provides ample sustenance for a big hike into the Jewel Basin. Somehow the chefs squeeze together three scrambled eggs, homemade chorizo sausage, mushrooms, green onion, bell pepper, black olives, diced tomatoes and jack cheese into one tasty tortilla.

Farmhouse, Lakeside

What You’re Having: Fried Chicken Benny

Before exploring Flathead Lake for the day, start your morning with some farm-fresh menu items such as this Montana-made treat. This flavorful item features golden fried organic chicken with a biscuit smothered in sausage gravy made from scratch and two eggs. In case that wasn’t filling enough, home fries are included.

Montana Coffee Traders, Columbia Falls

What You’re Having: Cowboy Scramble

In 2004, Montana Coffee Traders reopened the old Pines Café near downtown and has been serving delicious breakfasts there ever since, including the always-popular Cowboy Scramble. This mish-mash of goodness features two scrambled eggs, bacon, mushrooms, peppers, onions and cheddar cheese.

Pocketstone Café, Bigfork

What You’re Having: The Country Benedict

Bring a big appetite. This signature dish features a mammoth homemade English muffin topped in ham, two poached eggs and fresh Hollandaise sauce, made from scratch. “It’s definitely hardy,” co-owner Karie Stidham said.

The Belton Chalet, West Glacier

What You’re Having: Kentucky Hot Brown

Never mind Glacier National Park, the Belton Chalet, nestled along the western border of the park since 1910, is worthy of its own trip. Chef Melissa Mangold changes up the brunch menu every winter, and this year she’s added a delicacy that pays homage to her midwest roots. In West Glacier, Mangold has put her own touch on a Kentucky staple, using a waffle with cheesy gravy, tomatoes, turkey and bacon. Hold out on breakfast and try this amazing meal, and don’t worry, it’s big enough to sustain you until evening. Brunch is served 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays during winter.

The Knead Cafe, Kalispell

What You’re Having: Corned Beef Hash

Among the unique signature dishes in the valley, the Knead Café’s corned beef hash certainly stands out. Everything is made from scratch here, and this tasty menu item features corned beef bound with potatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, and spices all topped with two poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce. If this doesn’t meet your needs, the huevos rancheros never disappoints.

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