North Dakota is the least-visited state in the United States, with agriculture making up its number one industry. If you’re a foodie, over 90 percent of the state’s land, 39 million acres, are engaged in family farms and ranches – making North Dakota a great place to experience agritourism. North Dakota is the nation’s leading producer of honey, dry edible beans and peas, spring and durum wheat, canola, and flaxseed. With all this impressive agricultural background, you just know you are going to find some pretty special restaurants in Medora, North Dakota.
The Marquis de More, a French nobleman, founded Medora in 1883, naming the town after his wife. With all the ranches and farms in the area, he came to what was then the Dakota Territory to set up a meatpacking plant. He invented meat refrigeration, which changed how they shipped meat. Before his innovation, they crowded live cattle into railroad cars and sent them to Chicago for processing. After his invention, they processed meat in Medora at his meatpacking plant and then shipped via railway to Chicago using slabs of ice in boxcars, creating an early-design in refrigerated boxcars.
Today, the tiny town of Medora, population 126, is a wild west cowboy town and North Dakota’s most popular tourist destination. The best time to visit is from Memorial Day through Labor Day to ensure a complete experience. As with most towns tied closely to tourism, you’ll find some of the best dining experiences in Medora.
Sitting on the edge of the Badlands, the Medora experience includes the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where wild-life photography, hiking, and camping offer a thorough outdoor experience. The park is home to bison, wild horses, and prairie dogs.
History lovers will enjoy discovering the importance Medora played in Theodore Roosevelt’s life before he became the 26th President of the United States. Those who enjoy the performing arts will appreciate the Medora Musical, which is new every season and pays tribute to Teddy Roosevelt.
But after the outdoor experience, after the culture, you still need to eat, and there are several restaurants in Medora. So while you’re visiting there, these are seven of the must-try restaurants in Medora, North Dakota.
The Best Restaurants in Medora, North Dakota
Best Restaurant with a View in Medora
3422 Chateau Rd. // +1-701-623-4444
Selected as a Food Network “Best Of” favorite, it’s easy to see why. Tjaden Terrace, on a bluff, high above the town, features a panoramic view of the Badlands. You could see for miles, including views of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the Little Missouri River, and historic Medora.
At the Pitchfork Steak Fondue, chefs clad in red bandanas and cowboy hats skewered steaks on a pitchfork five-high. Then they fondued them western style in vast vats of boiling oil, while we watched.
We chose our buffet-style dinner from a selection of fresh sides. Coleslaw, baked beans, baked potatoes with all the trimmings, fresh vegetables and fruit, and garlic toast were all on offer. We couldn’t resist the cinnamon-sugar donuts and brownies for dessert. Finally, we selected our fondued steak to our preferred temperature, before sitting down at communal picnic tables in the open air.
The Coal Diggers played live music while we visited with new friends. Our table sang along to western songs, reminiscing with songs from our younger years and building new memories from this evening. We even saw a Teddy Roosevelt look-alike strolling and interacting with the crowd.
Although dinner sometimes serves as many as four hundred people, the line moved quickly, and dinner was over in just over an hour, just in time to head over to the Medora Musical.
Vegetarians can easily make a meal from just the buffet. Purchase “Just the Fixin’s” Pitchfork Steak Fondue Meal. Be aware though the beans do contain bacon.
Every evening they serve one seating at 5:30 p.m. before the Medora Musical or Special Concert Events. But with or without the theatre, visit Pitchfork Steak for one of the best Medora dining experiences.
Pro Tip: The Tjaden Terrace entrance is just feet from the entrance to the Burning Hills Amphitheater. Park once for dinner, and you are all set for the Medora Musical.
Best Fine-Dining Option in Medora
Theodore’s, inside the Rough Rider Motel, served a modern twist on traditional food from the wild west. Sitting in front of the beautiful brick fireplace, we enjoyed a meal worthy of any gourmet.
The bison Osso Bucco was falling apart tender and served with braised au jus and a creamy horseradish sauce. The chef offered seasonal vegetables, which accompanied the dish with blue cheese mashed potatoes and caramelized onions.
After dinner, we explored the historic hotel and browsed through their lobby library, containing one of the largest collections of books by and about Teddy Roosevelt.
Breakfast here was also noteworthy. The lemon ricotta pancakes were fluffy and light as air, served with a bourbon maple syrup and a mixed berry compote. A dusting of powdered sugar came sprinkled over the top. I had mine with sausage patties, but their bacon is equally tasty.
Try Theodore’s for a unique, fine dining restaurant in Medora.
Pro Tip: Theodore’s is not open for lunch. Plan for a hearty breakfast or delicious dinner.
Best Wine Bar in Medora
Medora Uncorked is just the place for a glass of wine and some appetizers or a light lunch.
We had a glass of Aronia Berry wine from Wolf Creek Winery in Cole Harbor, North Dakota, and paired that with a BBQ Blueberry Meatball flatbread appetizer. Blueberries combine wonderfully with berry-based wines. This flatbread combined blueberry preserves with a slightly sweet barbeque sauce.
The meatballs were cut and mixed in the sauce to create a topping. They added mozzarella cheese and a sparse dice of jalapenos, which made for just a hint of heat.
Accordion-pleated metal covered the walls while fabric draped elegantly over the ceiling. The owners took pride in their self-poured concrete bar top. Red lights provided a soft ambiance to the chic industrial décor.
In addition to the bar and table service, one area provides couches. The soft music and comfortable seating were like having a glass of wine in your living room with friends. Check out their events page to discover when live music will accompany your wine.
Wine, music, and great food make this one of the best places for dining in Medora.
Pro Tip: Did you find a wine you love? You can replenish your wine cellar here too.
Best Burger in Medora
440 Third Street // +1-701-623-4444
We needed plenty of napkins for these burgers. The Maltese Burger has walk-up window-service that offered a variety of juicy burgers, from beef to chicken. The menu spotlights burgers and fries, although they did have a couple of other sides.
Order the fries but ask for a side of aioli for dipping instead of ketchup. The aioli added a savory garlic flair to the fries.
We ate at outdoor tables with umbrellas to shield us from the sun. If the weather is less than ideal, take your burgers to-go. It is a great spot to grab a quick lunch in the sun before heading off to explore the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame.
It may not be fancy, but Maltese Burger is one of the best restaurants in Medora.
Pro Tip: In terms of location, Maltese Burger is the perfect lunch stop if you are visiting the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame directly before or after lunch.
Best Breakfast Dining Medora
314 Pacific Avenue // +1-701-623-3105
Located in the structure named “Teddy’s Village,” look for the signs in Gallery 1 that indicate The Farmhouse Café. The café is a bright, airy, open room with shiplap on the walls and polished concrete floors. Quirky signs, like three-feet high letters that spell out EAT, add to the fun. Water glasses from mason jars with handles were style-appropriate tableware for this rustic, yet modern décor.
We found both traditional breakfasts and some with a creative modern twist. The typical hearty farmhouse breakfast had two eggs, any style, hash browns, a choice of breakfast meat, and a choice between toast, pancakes, or French toast.
The Badlands nachos were a creative twist on traditional breakfast ingredients. They started with a foundation of sweet potato waffle fries that came topped with scrambled eggs, onions, sausage, and cheese. The chef drizzles maple syrup to finish the nachos, which was a perfect pairing to the sweet potatoes.
Get your “most important meal of the day” at The Farmhouse Cafe, one of the top places to eat in Medora.
Pro Tip: After breakfast, you won’t have room for the maple-glazed bacon doughnut but get one anyway and have it for a snack later. You won’t be sorry.
Best Rooftop Deck Dining in Medora
440 Third Street // +1-701-623-4404
Medora, established in 1883, became the local farmers and cattle ranchers supply center. What’s unique about this restaurant is its history. Little Missouri Saloon & Dining was also established in 1883 and is one of the oldest businesses in Medora.
Cowboy hats decorate the beams, while customers pin dollar bills in and around the hats. Little Missouri Saloon & Dining donates the dollar bills to local charities when the walls become chocked-full.
In addition to the history, another unique feature of Little Missouri Saloon & Dining is the rooftop deck dining. It’s the perfect place to eat dinner, have a drink with friends, and see what’s happening on the street.
For those who enjoy the wild game, the bison burger or elk burger would be a satisfying choice. In addition, standard burgers, pasta, pizzas, and steaks come in generous portions. You won’t leave this “best of” Medora restaurant hungry.
- If the weather cooperates, sit on the roof-deck patio for a view of the town while you dine.
- There’s even a place to tie up your horse if you decide to stop by while out on a ride.
Best Pizza in Medora
285 Third Street // +1-701-623-4444
Whether you need a break from cooking over your campfire while camping in Theodore Roosevelt National Park or a change from fine dining just across the street at the Rough Riders Hotel, Badlands Pizza Parlor & Saloon is the perfect family-friendly place.
The restaurant is an ample open space with both tables and booths. The light fixtures are shaped like old-fashioned lanterns with shades contributing to the dim lighting. Add the wood paneling, and you have wild west saloon décor — large images of Frontier Days circa 1916 line the dining room’s sidewall.
The pizzas go by whimsical names like “Janie Got a Gun” or “Cowboy Combo.” The bottom of the pizza’s crust is crispy, and a generous amount of toppings and loads of gooey cheese make it a filling choice for lunch or dinner.
For those requiring a gluten-free pizza, try the cauliflower crust pizza. For vegetarians, the Janie Got a Gun is the right choice, with bell peppers, tomatoes, green olives, caramelized onions, pepperoncini, sweet chilies, mozzarella cheese and a drizzle of balsamic. Vegetarians might also enjoy that on a cauliflower crust.
Enjoy your pizza with an ice-cold beer — bottled or draft, international or domestic. If you prefer a glass of wine, Badlands Pizza has that too.
In addition to pizza, they offer appetizers, salad, sandwiches, fried chicken, and a couple of pasta dishes. For a unique blend of the old west and Italy, Badlands is a must-try restaurant in Medora.
Pro Tip: Badlands Pizza Parlor & Saloon is open seasonally, so if you’ve visiting Medora in the spring or fall check before visiting to see if they’re open.
Which of these restaurants in Medora, ND do you most want to try? Let me know in the comments section below!
Amy Piper is a freelance travel writer, photographer, and blogger. A native of Michigan USA, she has traveled to 41 countries and 42 states, most recently adding New Mexico to the list. She aspires to go to Antarctica and finally visit all seven continents. She specializes in food and multi-generational travel, frequently traveling with her husband, daughter, and two granddaughters. Follow her on Twitter @amythepiper.