Tag Archives: restaurant

The Burger Bunker

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.

The Burger Bunker

The Burger Bunker on 2nd Avenue North

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.

Also: read what Vernon had to say.

Burger Bunker: Website. Facebook.

And now for the pictures:

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KFC: The Bucket Is Back

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.

Kentucky Fried Chicken in Great Falls re-opened in June 2015.

Kentucky Fried Chicken in Great Falls re-opened in June 2015.

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!

Roadhouse Diner Review

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).

The Roadhouse Diner in Great Falls

The Roadhouse Diner in Great Falls

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.

Breakfast Bomber and Breakfast Sammy at the Roadhouse Diner

Breakfast Bomber and Breakfast Sammy at the Roadhouse Diner

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.

As for the burgers and fries — soon. Very soon.

Don’t forget to like ’em on Facebook.

Tara serving up some tea; breakfast to go; Roadhouse Mascot

Tara serving up some tea; breakfast to go; Roadhouse Mascot

Cookies Are Coming!

I had to make a quick run out to Malmstrom today, and on the way back into town stopped at the mall, where I met Joe, the former owner of the Cookie Jar — a place from the mid-80s that some of you likely remember.

The Cookie Jar

He’s a super guy, and he explained that his daughter is re-opening the Cookie Jar in the exact same spot it once occupied! It’s upstairs right next to the GNC store — used to be Coffee Etc and Amy’s Morning Perk.

He said that at one point, there were at least three Cookie Jar locations in Great Falls (Times Square, mall, and on 38th Street), and one in Billings.

His grand-daughter (who owns Eye Candy downtown) was also there, and she happened to have one of the original Cookie Jar t-shirts from the 80s with the raccoon mascot. I suggested they should consider having a contest to name the raccoon, and bless her heart, she quickly replied, “His name is Bandit!” BUT OF COURSE! All raccoons are named Bandit! I didn’t realize that there were other people who knew that :-)

Cookie Jar t-shirt

Anyway — back to the cookies — Joe said that they plan to open sometime within the next two weeks. They had planned to open this weekend, but there’s still some equipment work being done.

Also on tap at the Cookie Jar: frozen yogurt — which according to a lot of comments I’ve seen on the KRTV Facebook page was out-of-this-world — and cinnamon rolls and other goodies.

Can’t wait to sample some of the cookies!

Cookie Jar

Luz’s, Porkie D’s, Roadhouse Diner

Haven’t tried Luz’s Mexican Food yet, but I do plan to sometime soon. I’ve read generally good reviews. Took a look inside last week — they’ve redone the whole thing, looks pretty good. But it did make me a bit nostalgic for the “N’awlins” decor it had when Goode brothers had it.

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I’m not a big soup fan, but Porkie D’s Soup to Go is a neat idea, and might be a perfect use for that little building. And the name of the place is really, really cute, although with the word “Porkie” in the name, I suspect some folks might be disappointed that they don’t serve…you know…pork. But the owners explained the name via a post on Facebook and noted: “3 of our homemade soups will have bacon in them to pay tribute to the name sake!” They plan to open on May 4th.

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And you all KNOW that I am *very* excited about the Roadhouse Diner! I stopped by and got an inside peek from Jason and Tara, the owners — delightful couple! They are SO excited about opening, and working like crazy to get the inside renovated for their June 1st opening. They’ve got a great eye for detail and are both extremely creative, and from what I saw, the decor and design will be amazing. Also of note: this was the FIRST location of Goode’s Q & Bayou

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Fuddruckers Flap

Last week, Rory Matthiesen posted on Facebook some photos and screenshots of documents that he says detail some bad practices at Fuddruckers in Great Falls. Here are some of the screenshots:

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His post quickly went viral (by Great Falls standards), and people started flooding the Facebook pages of KRTV, KFBB, and the Great Falls Tribune asking them to look into it. As of today, no media outlets have mentioned it, perhaps wisely.

But quite a few people also tagged me in similar posts, and I checked into it. First of all, the photos don’t look particularly bad to me — I worked in quite a few restaurants in my younger days, and these pictures appear to be pretty routine for a busy restaurant. Just some regular wear-and-tear, a few spots need a little extra elbow-grease, etc.

Then I looked at the official Fuddruckers page on Facebook (for the GF location) and found this:

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