I know, Bismarck, North Dakota is far from the culinary capital of the world. Heck, it’s not even the culinary capital of North Dakota (thanks, Fargo). I live in Western North Dakota and find myself in Bismarck pretty regularly to catch flights out of its single-terminal, 4-gate airport. I’ve come to know and love just a few restaurants—there aren’t that many options—which I think deserve the titles of best places to eat in Bismarck, North Dakota.
There’s plenty of meh. These Bismarck restaurants are surprisingly awesome! If you ever find yourself driving along I-94 through North Dakota with an appetite, I recommend any and all of them.
When you ask people what the best restaurant in Bismarck is, they will most likely say either Fireflour Pizza or Blarney Stone (which I’ll talk about next). Fireflour is a self-proclaimed Neapolitan pizzeria and craft coffee bar. Pretty fancy. I’ve eaten Neapolitan pizza in Naples, so I was only cautiously optimistic about eating it in North Dakota, but Fireflour Pizza is SO GOOD.
The wood fired oven was literally built in Naples and shipped over. The ingredients are fresh and pretty dang gourmet, at least if the amount of Italian on their menu is any indicator. I don’t know what la quercia prosciutto is, but it sounds fancier than regular prosciutto and I’m into it. Same goes for you, Berkshire fennel sausage and Sicilian oregano.
A plain 12″ cheese pizza will run you $12, which really isn’t bad for the quality. They also offer breakfast, craft coffee, beer, and lots of wine. I’ve never had anything less than amazing pizza, beer, and lots of wine at Fireflour.
The vibe of Blarney Stone, like Fireflour, is definitely ~classy casual~. Blarney Stone is decorated like an old fashioned Irish tavern and offers a mix of typical American gastropub food and traditional Irish food. For example, you’ve got fish n chips, bangers and mash, Irish strew made with Guinness, etc. but also a bunch of mouthwatering burgers, mozzarella sticks, and nachos. The service here has always been awesome, too. I think Blarney Stone is my favorite “nice date night” place in Bismarck (my boyfriend would argue Panera bread because he once saw our local weatherman there… I am not kidding. Classic North Dakota).
Note: you do have to be 21 or older to even eat here, since it’s technically a bar. On that note, the Ireland-inspired cocktails are delicious and hilariously named. Fancy a Nutty Irishman? Maybe a Celtic Cooler? Magners and Baileys are obviously present in many of them. Hit ’em up at Happy Hour and try them all!
Noodlezip’s tagline is “Authentic. Casual. Asian.” and that about sums it up. I never expected to find such delicious Asian food in the rural Midwest, but Noodlezip is really, really delicious. Some highlights are their side of red kimchi, pork buns, pho, ramen, and pad Thai. I usually take pause when I see a restaurant trying to serve like, eight different nationalities of food at once. I feel like it’s hard to do that many things correctly. However, Noodlezip nails the Japanese ramen as hard as the Vietnamese pho, and don’t get me started on the pad Thai. It’s all solid, including the house sake and Asian beer selection! Just look at this menu and try not to salivate. I DARE YOU.
Much like Fireflour and Blarney Stone, the ingredients at Noodlezip always taste fresh and authentic. I would say Noodlezip is the most casual dining experience of the top three. It was first recommended to me by a hipster foodie friend, so you know Noodlezip is legit.
JL Beers is a North Dakota (and a little into Western Minnesota?) burger n’ beer joint chain. I am the first to say boo to chain restaurants, but if you’re gonna be a chain in any state isn’t North Dakota the humblest? I think so.
Anyway, JL Beers made this list because it’s affordable and fairly reliably good. It’s hard to mess up when you have two menu items. Okay, I’m rounding down a tad; along with beef burgers, they offer chicken breast or black bean patties. Along with fresh-cut fries, they offer fresh-cut chips. The service can be meh at JL Beers, just a lot of youngsters who don’t seem to care all that much, but that’s only on an off night. Most of the time I find it just fine.
The main attraction at JL Beers is the draft beer. There are always 30ish draft beers from around the country/world on offer! You can sample them before you commit to one, too. Some of my favorites in the past have been Hofbrau’s Hefeweisen (Germany), Kona Big Wave (Hawaii) and Laughing Sun Red Dwarf (Bismarck)!
Like Blarney Stone, you have to be 21 to be in here.
Pirogue Grille is fancy, if you couldn’t tell from the way they spell “grille”. Chef Stuart used to work at Pebble Beach in Florida, the hella famous exclusive golf course. Even I’ve heard of Pebble Beach.
Be warned, the cheapest entree on their menu (chicken breast stuffed with smoked cheddar with an apple slaw garnish) is $23. It’s all obscenely tasty and gourmet. If the dinner price tags alarm you, you could always just come here for a supremely classy dessert after dinner at somewhere more affordable (this is a move I’ve perfected after years of being a poor college student but with a taste for the finer things, once in a while). You could also get an appetizer, salad, and dessert for the price of one entree. The portions aren’t huge, but damn it if Pirogue Grille hasn’t masted the entire concept of quality over quantity.
Long story short: if you want a VERY NICE dinner in Bismarck, even if that also means VERY EXPENSIVE, come here!
Terra Nomad Company
First of all, I want you to just go to Terra Nomad’s website for a second. This place is just so trendy and cool. I’m literally intimidated by their home page. It’s not open very late—7 PM at the latest, and only til 3 PM on Saturdays. It’s more of a lunch/bakery situation, that prides itself on fresh, local ingredients and working with local farmers. The menu even tells you which farm some of the dishes are sourced from, which is so rad.
I highly recommend any and all of their “sconewiches”, which are sandwiches made with savory cheesy scones as bread (anywhere between $10-$13). Always ask if there’s anything new or special here, since I think creativity with whatever local ingredients they have on hand is kinda Terra Nomad’s whole thing.
Boozy Bonus: Laughing Sun Brewery
Laughing Sun Brewery is not technically a food establishment… but dang, their beer is the bomb dot com. The brewery had a super cool atmosphere, very low key and relaxing (at least when I’ve been there). They play good music and the bartenders really know their stuff.
There you have it. What’s YOUR favorite restaurant in Bismarck? Are you a fan of any of the above? Holla at me in the comments!