You might not expect anywhere in North Dakota to be a foodie destination, but maybe you’ve never heard about Bismarck restaurants before. At first thought, it’s off the beaten path and is often the last state visited by those earning the “Visited All Fifty States” badge. It’s the least visited state in the union.
But on closer inspection, it makes sense as a foodie destination. North Dakota is ranches and farmland, with a larger population of cows than people. Most of the United States’ pasta comes from North Dakota’s durum wheat. They are the nation’s third-largest sugar producer, and the top producer of honey. So, the farm-to-fork movement is strong here, and within a radius of about three blocks, you’ll find seven must-try restaurants in Bismarck, North Dakota.
7 Must-Try Restaurants in Bismarck, North Dakota
Best Brunch in Bismarck, North Dakota
210 East Main Avenue // +1 701-751-0802
Sitting on the kitchen counter, observing her grandmother making butterhorn rolls, was one of Chef Stephanie Miller’s first childhood memories. Now those fluffy croissant-shaped rolls are essential to her restaurant, Butterhorn. You’ll find them served at brunch with vanilla frosting, cinnamon butter, and seasonal jam. At dinner, salt and butter accompany the rolls.
The menu is a new reading on Midwestern cuisine with a French and Italian influence. You’ll find an emphasis on North Dakota proteins – beef, pork, and bison. Chef Miller makes everything except the soy sauce in-house and uses locally grown, fresh ingredients whenever possible.
The biscuits and gravy are a favorite. At the base are halved biscuits overflowing with gravy made from the house-made sausage. Chili flakes in the sauce complement the dish with just a hint of heat and finally chopped chives add a punch of color.
Another favorite was the maple bacon, “Pop-Tart.” Starting with a light and flaky strudel-like crust, the “Pop-Tart” was filled with a savory bacon jam, then frosted with a maple syrup infused icing. Then it’s sprinkled with salty bits of bacon. This pastry alone is worth traveling to Bismarck; however, this pastry changes flavor constantly, so you won’t know for sure which kind will be on the menu on any given day.
Ornate crystal chandeliers on each side of the entry emphasize the restaurant’s art deco design. The blue-gray walls with up-lit scones have large-framed mirrors reflecting the light to create a bright atmosphere. The hardwood floors appear to be original. The crown molding trims the ceiling’s white art deco-style tiles. Chef Miller’s childhood family photos adorn the walls. If you’re looking for a great place for a pastry-infused meal, this might be the best Bismarck restaurant.
- It’s a good idea to make reservations.
- For special celebrations call them to find out more about their amore packages.
Best Breakfast in Bismarck, North Dakota
514 East Main Avenue // +1 701-751-2070
Terra Nomad serves breakfast, brunch, and lunch. It’s the perfect place for the modern-day nomad to take a break in a café atmosphere. Cookies and pastries are on offer as part of their coffee shop bakery, so pair some with a latte. Everything is scratch-made, in-house at Terra Nomad, with fresh seasonal ingredients. The menu changes frequently, but a variety of quiche and scones are always available.
One vegan, gluten-free option is the chia pudding, made from coconut milk and organic chia, then infused with maple syrup. Finally, the bowl comes topped with almonds and fresh berries.
The Ricky Martin latte made with steamed milk, chocolate, brown sugar, and espresso is my favorite coffee drink here. Guajillo chili enhances the coffee with a bit of heat at the end. Ahh, so comforting.
I loved the smoothie bowl, which eats like cereal and stays chilled in a large ceramic dish. It started with a well-chilled smoothie made from almond milk, bananas, nut butter, and some fruit, then topped with house-made granola, sliced almonds, berries, and fresh coconut.
Terra Nomad’s casual counter service comes in a modern setting with polished cement floors, painted white brick walls, and a modern blond wood bookshelf for a minimalist décor. If the nomad in you wants breakfast, wander over to Terra Nomad, one of the best restaurants in Bismarck for breakfast.
Pro Tip: They conveniently offer a daily email so that you will be in the know of their day-to-day specials.
Best Italian Food in Bismarck, North Dakota
101 North 5th Street // +1 701-751-1738
Inspired by the very essence of “la Bella vita,” the good life, Anima Cucina is an Italian restaurant with a deli atmosphere, especially at lunch.
Start by enjoying one of their signature charcuterie boards with a glass of wine. The staff at the wine bar can provide suggestions on the perfect pairings.
The Porchetta stands out as something special. The chef wraps a Berkshire pork loin in herbs and pork belly and then roasts it on a rotisserie. Porchetta comes as a sandwich for lunch or an entrée at dinner. The sandwich represents the colors of the Italian flag, red, white, and green. The Porchetta was moist and perfectly roasted, then layered with sun-dried tomatoes, slightly sweet onion marmalade and peppery arugula. All this was piled high on a house-made schiacciata, also known as Florentine bread, for the perfect bite. With an in-house wine bar, I paired it with a red sangria for a refreshing summer lunch. Porchetta when served as a dinner entrée comes served with braised cabbage.
Anima Cucina also has some great vegetarian and vegan options. One option is the portobello mushrooms with an herb sauce. The dish contains spinach and mixed vegetables. Another choice is the vegan board with three vegan “types of meat” and “cheeses” from The Herbivorous Butcher. Fig jam, rustic crackers, Marcona almonds, castelvetrano olives, and dried fruits round out the board. Being “board” can be a good thing when you go to Anima Cucina for Bismarck dining.
Pro Tip: Table service begins at 4:00 p.m. Before 4:00 p.m. the restaurant has counter service.
Best Pub Food in Bismarck, North Dakota
408 East Main Avenue // +1 701-751-7512
The exposed brick walls, heavy dark wood, and many taps at the bar lend to the authentic Irish pub atmosphere at the Blarney Stone Irish Pub.
When I saw the menu at Blarney Stone Irish Pub, I wasn’t expecting the breadth of menu selections. While their large variety of Irish dishes was the focus of the menu, many all-American favorites were also available.
My favorite dish was the Guinness Irish stew. It was Irish comfort food at its best. The stew made from beef rather than lamb was slow-cooked until it was fork-tender. The dish incorporated a mix of root vegetables, carrots, potatoes, and onions. Mushrooms and garlic, thyme, rosemary, and Guinness flavor the thick beef gravy which is the base for this pure comfort food. They serve a rustic whole-wheat roll with honey butter to mop up that excellent Irish Guinness and beef gravy.
The Blarney Stone Irish Pub makes their soup from scratch daily – I had the cheddar Irish ale soup on the menu Saturday’s and Sunday’s. The thick soup had bits of celery and carrots to enhance the flavor.
I topped off my meal with the Jameson Irish bread pudding, scented with warm winter spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. It was deep-fried and topped with Jameson Irish Whiskey sauce and then served with vanilla ice cream.
With 36 draft beers on tap, I had no problem finding just the right pairing for my traditional Irish pub meal. You’ll be humming “Danny Boy” as you leave one of the best restaurants in Bismarck.
Pro Tip: Diners must be 21 years old to enter, any time of the day.
Best Beef in Bismarck, North Dakota
422 East Main Avenue // +1 701-221-BEEF
Located in the lobby of the building that was once the historic Patterson Hotel, Peacock Alley is a steak house steeped in history. Peacock Alley American Bar and Grill opened at the end of prohibition in 1933, and the images on the wall reflect its rich history.
Peacock Alley isn’t just a steakhouse. They take pride in their unique cuts of beef, like the hanger steak and the Cowboy ribeye. They were the only restaurant in the United States to win the National Beef Innovator of the Year for 2013.
Peacock Alley serves USDA certified Angus beef, aged for at least 21 days. The aging process provides optimum flavor and tenderness while remaining moist and juicy. Their unique blend of 14 spices adds to the taste.
My favorite dish was the hanger steak. As noted on the menu, this steak has been referred to as the “butcher’s steak”, because butchers would often keep this steak for their family rather than selling it, due to its rich flavor. Quantities of hanger steak are limited because each animal has only one.
Peacock Alley’s most famous steak is the 18-ounce French-cut, bone-in Cowboy ribeye. It’s fall-off-the-bone tender.
In addition to the steak, a North Dakota favorite is the knoephla soup, a German-Russian version of chicken and dumpling soup.
Although it wasn’t unusual, I particularly enjoyed my wedge salad. The ingredients were the typical wedge of iceberg lettuce, crispy bacon, diced tomatoes, purple rings of onion topped with blue cheese dressing, but the components were fresh and crisp, making it an excellent start to the steak house meal.
The house-made gelato makes the perfect ending. I guarantee you will not have a “beef” with the quality of the food from this Bismarck dining establishment.
Pro Tip: Order the hanger steak medium-rare for optimum tenderness.
Best Fine-Dining in Bismarck, North Dakota
121 North 4th Street // +1 701-223-3770
Pirogue Grill is a 70-seat fine-dining restaurant in downtown Bismarck. While white tablecloths and stemware adorn the tables for an elegant feel, the wood, exposed brick walls, and metalwork give the atmosphere a casual feel. The open view of the kitchen provides additional interest in the dining room. It’s a great part of the Bismarck restaurant scene.
Pirogue Grille’s kitchen makes everything from scratch – starting with their stocks and sauces, their bread, and ending with their desserts and ice cream. The menu changes seasonally, featuring organic and local ingredients whenever possible. While a set of signature dishes remain on the menu, new additions appear every season.
We started the cocktail hour with a fantastic rhubarb martini made with Seagram’s gin, Triple Sec, and rhubarb simple syrup. My favorite appetizer was the walleye trio, containing a fish cake, some prosciutto-wrapped and some smoked walleye.
Game meats abound on this menu – you’ll find venison, rabbit, and buffalo. Although game meats aren’t my thing, the venison sausage comes highly recommended.
You’ll also find more standard proteins like chicken and beef. I enjoyed the New York strip steak, grilled precisely as requested with a bourbon-mustard sauce. This dish was gluten-free, and they clearly mark gluten-free options on the menu.
The dessert sampler is the perfect choice when you can’t decide between all their sweet offerings. It contains a few bites of every dessert on the menu, and while you may think that’s overdoing it, it is just over two dessert servings, so it’s an excellent dessert to share. For fine dining in Bismarck, this is the place.
Pro Tip: The Third Street Parking garage has complimentary parking after 4 p.m.
Best Pizza in Bismarck, North Dakota
111 North 5th Street // +1 701-323-9000
Fireflour Pizza is a Neapolitan-inspired pizzeria serving artisan pizza in a quaint and cozy atmosphere. The two-and-a-half-ton wood-fired oven embodies the fire, reaching temperatures of up to 900 degrees. The most important ingredient in the pizza dough is flour; hence, the name Fireflour.
The keyword at Fireflour Pizza is hand-crafted. The dough, made from scratch with Caputo 00 flour, ferments for 48 hours before topping it with pizza sauce made from organic Bianco DiNapoli plum tomatoes. Your choice of toppings includes local organic produce and La Quercia artisan meats. Finally, it’s topped with hand-stretched fresh Mozzarella and baked for 60 to 90 seconds, resulting in a soft, thin crust that is light and crispy.
Craft beer is a must to accompany that artisan pizza, and they offer a wide-ranging list. If you prefer wine, they have that too.
Finish your meal with a house-made gelato or sorbetto.
My favorite combination was the Goddess salad with a variety of organic lettuce, tomatoes, shaved fennel, and a creamy basil dressing. I picked up the fennel flavor again in the pizza when I added the Berkshire pork fennel sausage to the Daisy. Built on a foundation of a thin crispy crust were a combination of organic tomato sauce, hand-stretched mozzarella, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. The house-made salted caramel gelato was the perfect finish to the meal.
Pair their Saturday morning caramel rolls with something from the craft coffee bar. Fireflour partnered with the Minneapolis-based Dogwood Coffee to build an over the top craft coffee bar, which pairs perfectly with their bakery items.
Pizza is available pretty much everywhere, but this is where to eat in Bismarck for artisan brews and pizza.
- From October through May, the first Monday of the month is Monday Night Supper.
- On the Mondays that they serve the special supper menu, they close from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Take-out is available.
- Reservations are accepted.
- Fireflour Pizza doesn’t serve pizza on evenings that they serve the special menu.
Which of these Bismarck restaurants 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.