From a mobile coffee shop with delicious lunches to a restaurant owned by a competitor on Top Chef, we discovered exceptional choices for great food and atmosphere in Bismarck, North Dakota. We have breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Bismarck covered.
This vibrant capital city with a small-town vibe lies on the banks of the meandering Missouri River (and along with diverse cuisine, we enjoyed exploring the city’s numerous parks filled with an abundance of trees and greenery). Bismarck’s eateries take advantage of the state’s variety of locally grown food and, combined with its German and Norwegian heritage, create an extraordinary food and drink scene.
See how Bismarck’s cuisine stacks up, from bison to beer and walleye to waffles. Get ready to uncover a sensational food scene with these must-try dining experiences in Bismarck (plus one in Mandan, right across the river).
Note: The Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted us, but our opinions are our own.
Chef Stephanie Miller enjoyed watching both of her grandmothers make butterhorn rolls as a child. Fast forward to earlier this year, and she appeared as a contestant on Bravo’s 19th season of Top Chef in Houston. Butterhorn provides an upscale dining experience with French and Italian influence in downtown Bismarck. Its menu focuses on top ingredients grown locally in the Midwest.
Naturally, we waited patiently for a basket of hot butterhorns to arrive at our table. We didn’t need butter for these rich and delicate rolls, although the basket came with it. We could only imagine how incredible an order of the Butterhorn Trio would taste with vanilla icing, cinnamon butter, and a seasonal jam. Unfortunately, the trio is only available on the weekend for brunch.
What To Order At Butterhorn
Kristi ordered walleye cakes, but I chose beef cheeks served over cornbread. Both dishes were terrific; finding great cornbread in Bismarck seemed too easy.
Pro Tip: We recommend reservations.
2. Laughing Sun Brewing Co.
On a bustling Monday night, the mood in the Laughing Sun Brewing Co. certainly reflected the name. Whether sitting at tables or in the steady stream of people entering and leaving, everyone in Bismarck’s first brewery was in a cheerful mood. On top of regularly winning awards, The Bismarck Tribune named it the “Best of the Best” brewery last year.
However, their focus on delicious food is just as important. It’s all about award-winning barbecue on the menu, and as co-owner Mike Frohlick told us, “it’s barbecue, and it’s damn good.” They have won numerous “Best of the Best” awards for barbecue, ribs, brewing, music venue, and live music venue.
Garage doors, patios inside and out, and ax-throwing lanes are at the front entrance. Once inside, long picnic-style tables sit in rows next to the bar and stage. Orders are placed at the bar and then delivered to your table. But, of course, deciding on which award-winning beer might be challenging.
The indoor patio might be the best spot for those with mobility challenges. Most of the seating is long picnic-style benches, but the indoor patio has round tables, and chairs can be easily maneuvered around.
What To Order At Laughing Sun Brewing Co.
For starters, Korean barbecue smoked wings and a half order of barbecue pork nachos arrived. We thought they had made a mistake and sent an entire order of nachos until we saw someone else’s heaping full order delivered. We enjoyed both appetizers, especially the wing flavor and the smoky pulled pork combined with tortilla chips.
For our entree, I ordered a pulled pork barbecue plate with baked beans, and Kristi ordered a half-sized beef brisket plate with macaroni and cheese. Both plates came with an elote cornbread muffin, which was outstanding. If we lived in Bismarck, I would order a side to go for dinner at home. Like the nachos, the pulled pork had a nice smoky flavor, and I chose the sweet barbecue sauce. Even though the dish was very good, the beef brisket was my favorite. Smoke flavor penetrated the beef entirely, and the rub became a delightful, semi-crunchy coating.
Pro Tip: Bring Fido to the patio, where employees fill dog dishes with water.
3. 3 And ME
Like many mobile coffee shops and restaurants, 3 and ME doesn’t have a dedicated location, but tracking them down on their Facebook page or website is worth it. Better yet, if you see a big pink trailer around Bismarck, go ahead and stop.
Although the mobile coffee shop serves espresso, lattes, frappes, and smoothies, the menu features wonderful wraps and desserts. Plus, they use all locally sourced ingredients from small North Dakota businesses. Owner Rachel Howard told me their foundation is rooted in community and providing top-quality local produce and meat. In addition, she takes pride in offering quality items at family-friendly prices.
What To Order At 3 and ME
3 and ME states that they use only the freshest ingredients, and we couldn’t agree more. I ordered a delicious turkey, cheddar, and ranch wrap, one of the top-selling items. Kristi loved her cranberry almond chicken salad wrap. Crunchy kettle chips and a moist slice of iced cake with fresh raspberries and drizzle rounded out our delicious lunch.
Other top-selling wraps include a classic BLT with housemade jalapeño mayo; a turkey, cheddar, and ranch; and roast beef and swiss with raspberry chipotle mayo. Coffee choices (with beans from Coal Country Coffee Co.) and Italian sodas top the list for drinks. I would also like to try a piece of chocolate almond coffee cake, layered raspberry cheesecake, or a seasonal slice of sweet potato pie cheesecake. If only we had more time.
4. Brick Oven Bakery
We love finding great bakeries, and Brick Oven Bakery is beyond compare. Judging by the hoards of customers, this must be Bismarck’s favorite bakery.
Located downtown on North 4th Street, Brick Oven Bakery handmakes traditional French pastries and loaves of bread using time-honored methods. The owners are so passionate about their craft that they bought a traditional brick oven from French artisans. Their brick oven is the only one the manufacturer has sold to America, so after shipping it in pieces, a Spanish team came to Bismarck to assemble it.
We were lucky enough to find a table in the middle surrounded by exposed brick walls and wood trusses. The wood tables and simple metal cups fit well with comfortable wicker chairs. We loved seeing rows of delectable pastries — like croissants, danishes, scones, and cruffins — behind the French-inspired counter. There was also a full coffee bar.
Unfortunately, fresh-baked breads were not ready yet. Bread comes out of the oven between 9 and 12, so we’ll be ready next time. However, we heard their cranberry walnut is to die for, and we certainly would have bought a loaf. Freshly baked sourdough varieties are available Wednesday through Saturday; however, country sourdough is baked each day to pair with daily flavors like garlic parmesan, cranberry walnut, jalapeño cheddar, and the baker’s choice on Saturday.
Obviously, great coffee goes together perfectly with pastries. Locally owned Perk N Beans supplies Brick Oven’s espresso and house blend coffee. In addition, they serve unimaginable amounts of latte choices and dark French roast coffee.
We enjoyed watching the wood-fired brick oven pre-heat when we were there. You can peek to the back of the kitchen to see the flames under the 9-foot-deep oven, and several long-handled baker’s peels hanging on the wall next to it. We also saw bakers making pastry dough with big blocks of European-style butter on the table.
Please be aware that someone with mobility challenges might need to visit during non-peak hours, since tables are close together and the bakery gets crowded.
What To Order At Brick Oven Bakery
Kristi ordered a ham and cheese croissant, and I had a strawberry danish. The bacon and cheese croissant and assorted fruit danish also caught our eye, but then again, all the pastries looked seriously appetizing. Lunch would also be a great option for a salad. My mouth was watering as we watched an employee add the finishing touches to colorful bowls of greens with tomatoes, bacon, sliced egg, pickled onions, various other ingredients, and housemade ranch dressing.
5. Stonehome Brewing Company
Stonehome Brewing Company looks out on the beautiful North Dakota state capitol building and grounds from inside First National Bank. Entering through the spacious bank lobby reveals rounded walls of windows welcoming guests into the brewery. In Norwegian, Stonehome is the bank’s CEO and restaurant’s co-owner Steve Stenehjem’s Old Norse surname.
Locals recommended pizza, and we saw why. Someone sitting next to us ordered a Rusty Tractor pizza. The pizza’s crust and cheese were cooked perfectly brown for us. A sample of the microbrewery’s craft beer names include Are You Barb?, Winter Storm Warning!!!, A Sailor Named Jerry, Maah Daah Hey, and River Otter Red.
Anyone with mobility challenges will find the spacious restaurant easy to navigate.
What To Order At Stonehome Brewing Company
I ordered fish and chips. The fish had a nice crispy beer batter, and the pub fries were fantastic. I struggled between a fish dinner and stromboli, but next time, I’m ordering a ‘24 Ford stromboli. Kristi ordered a ‘Merica Burger with sweet potato fries but debated ordering a meatball parm sub.
Bonus: Copper Dog Waffles & Coffee In Mandan
Across the Missouri River in Mandan, a sweet aroma of waffles and a chic industrial design welcomed us as we opened the door to Copper Dog Waffles and Coffee. Aqua and white walls complimented the cream tin ceilings and exposed ductwork nicely. Doors toward the back opening to a colorful mini-gym drew our eyes, where owners Brittany Kennedy and her mom teach children’s gymnastics classes.
We stood in line to order, but we eagerly watched the pick-up counter, hoping someone’s order would help make our choice easier. No such luck because every plate looked delicious. Waffles such as American Pie, chicken and waffle, banana nut, biscuits and gravy, and strawberry cheesecake are mainstays on the menu. In addition, a variety of baseball-themed waffles named Sandlot S’more, Full Count, Walk Off, Curveball, and the Rookie, to name a few, are classics.
Of course, just about any variety of coffee from their extensive menu goes well with their specialty waffles. We noticed a majority of to-go orders consisted of stroopwafels to pair with coffee.
Although there was plenty of room inside the old brick building, once they opened the garage door, bright and warm sunshine pleasantly added a nice touch. A table in the sun makes the perfect place to enjoy a warm, relaxing spot. After breakfast, we conveniently crossed Main Street to explore downtown Mandan and its new Dykshoorn Park.
What To Order At Copper Dog Waffles & Coffee
The cafe uses locally sourced ingredients, including North Dakota wheat and roasted coffee from Bismarck’s Mighty Missouri Coffee Company. We decided to split the special of the month, a raspberry lemon poppyseed. The light and fluffy waffle came with raspberries, lemon drizzle, sprinkles of granola, and whipped cream. It was wonderful and the perfect way to start the day.
Pro Tip: You can bring Fido inside as long as he’s well behaved and on a leash.
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