Ladies and gentlemen, behold the newest purveyor of pizza in Great Falls: Big Bang Pizza!
I had the good fortune to get a sneak peek and taste on Sunday before the official grand opening on Monday – and I was quite impressed.
First, the design and theme: Big Bang! Very cool – appropriately “sciencey” names for all of the offerings – Proton, Super Nova, Black Hole, Ultra Sonice, etc. This is the same team that owns the Burger Bunker, so they know how to take a concept and make it work.
Second, the pizza: delicious, quite simply. I of course opted solely for the pepperoni, and it was very good. The crust is not like any other pizza crust I’ve ever had — it wasn’t too thin or thick, and it was…fluffier? than other places. And the pepperoni slices were HUGE.
My lovely wife and some of our best friends tried some of the other types of pizza and offerings, and they, too, were duly impressed. My friend Monica posted this review on the Big Bang Pizza Facebook page: “The Buffalo wings were fabulous! The Quantum Force pizza was my favorite, very unique and delicious! The Black Hole was yummy as was the Proton, Newton, Inertia and White Noise. I’d try anything on the menu!”
And yes, they offer gluten-free pizza.
Where to find it: in the Columbus Center (the old hospital) at 1600 2nd Avenue North. Second floor, right around the corner from the elevator. BUT they also deliver, if you can’t get down there.
And I would also like to note that I ate pizza three days in a row: Saturday at Rikki’s, Sunday at Big Bang, and Monday we had Mackenzie River delivered. All were delicious 🙂
Hand-written sign posted above the urinals in an eatery – any guesses which one?
NOTE: do not let the sign discourage you – trust me, this place has the BEST BURGERS in Cascade County.
Also kick-ass French fries, and an internet-connected jukebox that lets me groove to my heart’s content.
PLUS super-friendly service. Seriously.
Yes, the sign is admittedly pretty yucky, but I ain’t picking places to eat based on the restrooms.
It was originally called the Moonshine Grill, but they changed the name to Shoot The Moon to avoid confusion with a Moonshine Grill in Texas.
The food was pretty good, the service was fine, the atmosphere was generally nice, and it was very clean.
My wife and I usually ate there once or twice a month, usually on Saturday afternoons, because it was never very busy — although in hindsight, I suppose that was not a very good sign.
The theme was pretty cool — Prohibition-era pictures and theme. And it was unusually clean and spacious. We almost always had great service; I saw lots of complaints about service on the KRTV Facebook page when the news broke, but we usually had very nice, polite, attentive service. The kitchen was a bit slow at times — even when there weren’t many other customers — but the food was above-average in most cases.
My biggest complaint actually had nothing to do with quality or service — it was the music. The music was almost always “modern” country or pop — how the heck does that reflect “moonshine” or Prohibition-era stuff? They should have been playing Tin Pan Alley music!
I also really enjoyed being able to draw on the butcher-block paper that covered the tables with crayons – fun!
And (sorry for the poor photo quality) I really loved this bison perched above the fireplace:
Our last visit — in mid-September — featured a large group of the Red Hat Society. We noticed some of them using the crayons to write or draw something. They were having a wonderful time, and on their way out, a couple of the ladies smiled at us and we exchanged pleasantries.
Once they were gone, I took a look at some of their handiwork:
In related news: the On The Border restaurant — same owner as Shoot The Moon, located in what used to be Tony Roma’s — also closed last week. We ate there once; it was meh, nothing special.
Remember a few years ago there was a “hot dog war” in Great Falls? There were three hot-dog themed eateries in town, all fighting for your hard-earned dollars. Sadly, the best of the lot — the Downtown Dog House — didn’t survive, and hot dogs overall seem to have been relegated to the bottom rung of the food-chain ladder in our fair community.
But! There’s now a battle of the burgers in Great Falls, of sorts. Several weeks ago, the Roadhouse Diner opened, and its star attraction is an ever-changing menu of tasty burgers and home-made fries. It’s a kick-ass place, full of energy, good cheer, and delicious food — although I think their breakfast offerings are even better than the burger menu.
And about two weeks ago, the Burger Bunker officially opened, and it is good, good stuff. It’s in the community rec center on 2nd Avenue North, in the space that used to be the Good Eats restaurant (which is relocating to the Columbus building next month).
The Burger Bunker is a military-themed restaurant, and the menu reflects it, with burgers called the Panzer, the Malmstrom, the B-52, the Desert Fox, and such.
Mack is the usually the guy who will greet you and take your order — super friendly, big smile, and always ready with a quip or joke.
Of course, I always opt for a plain cheeseburger — with bacon, if available — and I am happy to say that the Burger Bunker delivered a direct hit (get it?). I’ve been there (don’t laugh) four times since they opened, and have been very satisfied each time. In fact, the burgers have actually gotten better on each visit. My wife really enjoyed the Panzer — it’s basically a Reuben squeezed into a burger.
The french fries aren’t quite as good as the burgers, unfortunately — they are OK, but not great. Certainly passable, but make no mistake: the star attraction is the burger. That’s in contrast to the Roadhouse Diner, where the burgers are great, but the fries are phenomenal.
Also of note: they have something called a “cooler” on the menu — never heard it called such, but it’s basically a thin milkshake in your choice of cola, root beer, etc. I’ve had a cola cooler on each visit, and it is absolutely heavenly.
Another bonus: the Burger Bunker is open from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday. AND you can have it delivered, via Cafe Courier. In fact, on my last two visits to the Bunker, they were doing more delivery business than in-house business — at one point, they had two Cafe Courier drivers in there picking up orders.
Overall: hell yes, get down there and try a burger.
I’m happy to report that the new KFC on the west side of Great Falls that opened a few weeks ago is off to a good start.
I boycotted KFC in Great Falls about two years ago after far too many encounters with surly employees, dirty stores, and being told that they were out of chicken (!).
In April 2014, both locations closed, and while a lot of people in town seemed upset that they wouldn’t be able to chow down on the Colonel’s famous herb-n-spices, I heard from TONS of people who echoed my sentiment about dirty stores and poor service.
But after two trips to the (literally) new and improved west-side store since it re-opened, I can tell you that both the service and the cleanliness have skyrocketed.
On my first trip, about two weeks after it opened, I had to wait about 15 minutes to place my order — the place was PACKED. But the staff was very friendly, the store looked spotless, and the food was good.
Went again last night, and the crowd was smaller, but the service was again great — lots of smiles from the staff, and quick service.
The redesigned lobby is pretty nice — a little generic, but fine. And how ’bout that lounge seating (shout-out to Dana Joe!).
Granted, with only a few weeks under its belt, it’s not too surprising that the store looks pretty clean and the crew is friendly — but it’s a very good indication that the owner took all of the negative feedback from a couple of years ago to heart, and is working to make the store live up to the standards that customers expect and deserve.
Some cool retro advertising inside; it’s a shame the new “Colonel Sanders” in TV commercials is so poorly-done; whether it’s intended as parody, homage, or whatever, the (gifted) Darrell Hammond just isn’t striking the right tone.
One nice touch: store employees are sporting black shirts with the Colonel on them — the shirts call him “The Original Celebrity Chef.”
I also ordered a double-cheeseburger from the A&W side of the store, and it was pretty good, too.
I didn’t realize that they made their own root beer — I snuck a small cupful while I was waiting, and it was indeed very tasty. Might have to swing by later today for a root-beer float!
At last, the Roadhouse Diner is open! Since they first announced they would be opening, I’ve been impatiently waiting to give it a spin. The RH is in the log-cabin-style building on 15th Street North that once housed the Pine Cone Patio, Pam’s Friendly Diner, and most recently Goode’s Q & Bayou Grill (RIP).
Although I’m excited about trying the burger and fries, I haven’t made it there for lunch yet — both of my visits have been breakfast. I tried the Breakfast Bomber and a Breakfast Sammy — and holy cow, were they amazing.
First, let’s get the bad news out of the way: they are only open Wednesday through Sunday, and they only serve lunch between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Breakfast is served from 6 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., except on Sunday, when it’s served until 2 p.m. They hope to expand their hours, but for now, if you want to give it a try, plan accordingly.
Second: Jason and Tara, the owners, have really spiffed up the place — new appliances, seating, paint, decor — and it looks great. Given the small size and the unique shape/style of the building, they’ve done a great job. It looks and feels like a “modern retro” diner, which I think is exactly what they were aiming for.
Third: the service has been extremely friendly — it’s a happy crew. I’ve seen a few grumbles online about the service being slow, but that’s understandable given that they’ve been open for just two weeks. They are still working out the kinks in prep time, adjusting for the initial rush of people, etc. I have no doubt the timeliness of the service will improve.
Fourth: DELICIOUS! It’s a bit pricey — but only if you compare it to fast-food.
Let’s take the Breakfast Bomber, which is $8: it’s a HUGE breakfast burrito — their menu says: “Our signature two-fisted breakfast burrito made with sausage, bacon or ham tossed with scrambled eggs and homefries, covered with cheese sauce wrapped in a tortilla.” And when they say two-fisted, they mean it — I ordered two on my first visit, and the first one was so big, I saved the second one for later. It was huge, delicious, and filling. Their bacon is perfect — not wimpy and/or flavorless.
As for the price — compare it to the breakfast burrito at Sonic, which if memory serves is about $3 — but the Sonic version is about half the size, the eggs are usually over-cooked, and the bacon is not very flavorful. So for $8 at the RH, you can get a monster burrito that is fresh, tasty, and filling. Note: as with most situations, you can never go wrong by ordering extra bacon. Not a criticism of RH – just a general rule that applies to any situation involving bacon.
Second example: the Breakfast Sammy, which is essentially like an Egg McMuffin from McDonald’s. Don’t get me wrong — I really like Egg McMuffins, but there really is no comparison. The Breakfast Sammy ($5) is bigger and tastier by far.
It really comes down to paying a bit extra for quality — and when it comes to breakfast, HELL YES I will pay more for what the Roadhouse Diner is serving up.
So the bottom line: for breakfast, based on my two visits so far, I can’t think of a tastier option in Great Falls. Jason and Tara have created something that I think is quite wonderful. If you head over there, be a little patient as they and their team continue fine-tuning, and enjoy your breakfast.