I love bagels – absolutely love them – and I have ever since I tried my first quality bagel during college (which was at BagelWorks in Bozeman – see below!). Whenever Jen and I travel to new towns, one of the first things we look for is a local bagel place.
Since we’ve been in Montana for the past several months, we decided to make a point of sampling every local bagel shop the state has to offer. (Bagels aren’t ubiquitous here in Big Sky Country, so it wasn’t really that lofty of a goal.) The result? We found these six spots across the state, and they’re all gems.
I’m not sure every local knows about all the great bagels in Montana, and I’m positive that most tourists don’t, but if you’re looking for a quick and tasty breakfast in Bozeman, Missoula, Bigfork, Helena, Billings, or maybe a couple other towns, we’ve got you covered.
So without further ado, here’s our meticulously researched and personally taste-tested list of the best bagel shops in Montana.
Table of Contents
BagelWorks – Bozeman
Let’s start our tour of Montana bagels with the state’s oldest bagel shop, which has been operating since way back in 1991. Does that not sound so long ago? The Cold War had just ended, Nirvana was at the height of stardom, and the Internet was barely a thing.
Montana was also 100% a meat-and-potatoes sort of place back then. Thankfully, BagelWorks was there to give the Bozone a taste of New York’s finest, while also paving the way for bagel shops across the state.
BagelWorks will always have a special place in my heart. Their cheddar-jalapeno bagel with jalapeno cream cheese was my gateway to the world of bagels. It showed me that a bagel is more than a round piece of bread; it was chewy and airy at the same time, with a satisfying bite through a shiny crust. Actually, I think their bagels have a great chewiness that’ll please both NYC purists and fans of the doughier bagels found at most chains.
But my bias aside, BagelWorks’ longevity is also a testament to the quality they offer. The bagels are baked fresh every morning (though you can pick up a bag of day-olds for dirt cheap), and all the cream cheeses are made from fresh ingredients. They also have a wide variety of both bagel and cream cheese flavors, serving up nearly a dozen of each on any given day).
Their shop on Main Street is almost always crowded with customers waiting on to-go orders, but there are a few tables for anyone wanting to savor their mouthwatering bagels right away.
Location and Hours: 708 W. Main St. / Every day, 6:30am-2:00pm
Bagels on Broadway – Missoula
Montana’s second-oldest bagel shop started in 1993, when Bagels on Broadway owner Sue Thompson opened up in downtown Missoula. However, unlike most Montana bagel shops in existence today, Broadway does not boil their bagels, instead using a rotary steam oven that saves time and energy. Their bagels are less chewy than some, but they still have a great texture. I also love that the bagels and cream cheese are all made from scratch every day, using as many local ingredients as possible.
One of the other great things about Broadway is their commitment to experimentation. While they have a core set of bagel and cream cheese flavors, a few new ones come out every month, ranging from things like rosemary-olive bagels to blue cheese & blueberries cream cheese. They won’t all be hit, but (much like with craft breweries!) I love a shop that’s willing to try bold new flavors. And they almost always have the Asiago and garlic parmesan bagels, which are my favorites.
Bagels on Broadway is quite popular with Missoula’s large student population, too, with seventy percent preferring them to the local Einstein’s Bagels franchise. Broadway’s bagels can be found at nearly two dozen locations across Missoula, but it’s better to get them straight from the source for absolute freshness.
Location and Hours: 223 W. Broadway St. / Every day, 7:00am-2:00pm
Buzz N Bagels – Bigfork
This isn’t really a bagel shop in its own right, but it’s still more than deserving of a mention (and definitely deserving of a visit when you’re in Bigfork). Buzz N Beans, which is probably better known for its coffee, serves bagels from Bagels on Broadway.
Shipments arrive every day, so it’s not like they’re getting stale, but they only stock a handful of the flavors available down in Missoula (and none of the crazy ones). The bagels are a little more expensive here, too, which is expected given the two-hour journey they have to make.
Buzz N Bagels makes their own cream cheeses, though, including some unusual flavors like horseradish and pumpkin. They also do bagel sandwiches if you’re looking for a filling option around lunchtime.
While Bigfork is a major tourist destination, Buzz N Bagels is a local favorite, too. In fact, the owner says some of the very first customers from when the shop opened in 1998 still eat there today.
Buzz N Bagels is drive-thru only, but there are a couple of tables set up right in front for when it’s warm out. Or you could drive ten minutes down the road to Wayfarer’s State Park to enjoy some spectacular views of Flathead Lake with your bagel.
Location and Hours: 8065 Hwy. 35 / Mon.-Sat., 6:00am-5:00pm
The Bagel Company – Helena
Helena’s Bagel Company was the third shop to start baking bagels in Montana, and it has consistently been ranked as one of the best. Their first location opened on Last Chance Gulch back in 1994, when bagels were still a rarity in the Treasure State.
In 2002, the shop’s new owners decided to dip a toe into the world of specialty coffee and started roasting their own beans. From there, the Bagel Company’s popularity just kept growing, and they opened a second location on 11th Ave. a decade and a half after their initial start.
If you’re looking for a New York-style bagel in Montana, this is probably the one that comes closest. The Bagel Company has one of the biggest flavor selections in the state, too, with fifteen or so to choose from and standouts like parmesan, chocolate chip, and orange cranberry. You need to show up early to get that kind of choice, though, since some of the specialty flavors commonly sell out by mid-morning.
The Bagel Company is the closest shop to Great Falls, so it’s our most frequent bagel fix right now. I’m not saying we pick up a half dozen bagels every time we go through…but I’m also not saying that we don’t.
Location and Hours: 735 N. Last Chance Gulch / Mon.-Sat., 6:30am-2:00pm & Sun., 7:00am-2:00pm; 1411 11th Ave. / Mon.-Sat., 6:30am-6:00pm & Sun., 7:00am-6:00pm
The Sourdough Bagel – Billings
For anyone thinking about starting a business in Montana (or anywhere), The Sourdough Bagel is one of the most inspiring stories you’ll find. Prior to bagel slinging, owner Bonnie Perkins had next to no baking experience, but perfected her recipe for eight months before taking it on the road.
She got her start in 2018 by selling homemade bagels at the Billings farmers’ market, towing her handcrafted goodies in a large wooden cart behind her bicycle. How cool is that?
For two years, she built her brand selling at weekend markets and making special deliveries around Yellowstone County, before finally opening up a brick-and-mortar shop in May 2020. As it happened, we were lucky enough to be in Billings the weekend it opened, and the bagels were selling out faster than the staff could toast them.
The Sourdough Bagel’s recipe is pretty unique compared to the other shops in Montana. The bagels take two full days to prepare, thanks to the lengthy sourdough fermentation that has to come before the usual boiling and baking. It’s time well spent, though.
After tasting every bagel made in Montana, The Sourdough Bagel is officially our favorite. They might be on the small side, but the exterior is perfectly dense and chewy, while the inside is deliciously soft, and the flavors are top-notch.
They make sourdough versions of the classics like sesame and everything bagels, as well as unique flavors like Asiago and dark chocolate sea salt. Every kind we’ve tried so far has been delicious. And that’s to say nothing of the spreads, which are where they really get creative, with choices like rosemary honey cream cheese and mustard butter.
Be warned: this shop often sells out and closes up early, so don’t count on this as an afternoon snack. And if you want to have your choice of flavors, try to get there soon after they open.
Location and Hours: 219 N. 29th St. / Mon.-Fri., 7:30am-2:00pm (or sellout)
Big Sky Bagels – Kila*
Not long after we proclaimed The Sourdough Bagel to have the best bagels in Montana (and the only sourdough option), some competition – and another truly inspiring story of entrepreneurship – popped up in the opposite corner of the state.
Montana’s newest bagel company was born this summer out of the Covid-19 pandemic, when Lizzie Webb and Scoob Decker, two theatre professionals from the tiny town of Kila, found themselves out of work for the foreseeable future. While the rest of us spent a week or two churning out mediocre loaves of sourdough bread before moving on to decluttering our homes and taking virtual museum tours, these two perfected their craft into something beautiful.
The Big Sky Bagels operation remains small, with Lizzie and Scoob making and packaging every bagel by hand in their home kitchen. They have no brick-and-mortar store, and instead make periodic trips to Kalispell, Missoula, Cut Bank, and Whitefish to deliver their bagels and sell them at markets.
For delivery (and to guarantee pick-up at one of the markets), you have to pre-order through their website or Facebook page a couple days ahead of time. The bagels are normally sold by the half-dozen, with options for a sweet or savory sampler pack.
We’ve raved about the wide variety of flavors at many of the bagel places around Montana, but Big Sky Bagels easily wins when it comes to experimentation. They’re constantly creating new and unique flavors, so the menu changes almost weekly. Some of our favorites so far have been the pretzel and garlic parmesan, and we’re gutted to have missed out on trying the s’mores bagel last month.
The flavored cream cheese offerings are equally innovative, with choices like basil pesto, maple vanilla, and Flathead cherry. If you just want to make your mouth water, you can check out all the past bagels and cream cheeses in the flavor archive.
I love that there are now two sourdough bagel bakeries in Montana, and it’s exciting and inspiring to see a couple of entrepreneurs making lemonade from the lemons of Covid-19.
Oh, and if you’re really lucky, you might get to meet their dog Murphy when picking up your bagels. He’s the sweetest little guy and is a celebrity in his own right – he’s been in multiple theatre productions, including playing Toto in The Wizard of Oz.
Square Peg Bagel Co. – Missoula*
When we published this post, we were sure our search for bagels across the Big Sky State had been exhaustive. As it turns out, we were wrong! Square Peg Bagel Co. has been making bagels in Missoula since March 2020. The catch is that they’re only available for delivery or pick-up – there’s no storefront, and they’re not at any of the area’s farmers’ markets.
Square Peg is a small operation, and they only make a few flavors each week. They’re more old school, with mostly traditional toppings like sesame and salt, although occasionally there’s something crazier thrown in.
Their bagels are on the denser side, with a chewy exterior. Like my other two favorite Montana bagel shops – The Sourdough Bagel and Big Sky Bagels – Square Peg’s bagels are sourdough-based, but without a strong sour flavor. (Are sourdough bagels just the way of the future?)
Online ordering opens every Monday around noon, and deliveries happen on Saturday morning. If you’re like us and want to grab a half dozen bagels while traveling through Missoula, you can pick up your order from the baker’s house instead.
Even though there are several places making great bagels in Montana, they’re certainly not on every corner like they might be in New England or California. Many of Montana’s largest towns still don’t have their own bagel bakery: Butte, Kalispell, and most importantly to us right now, Great Falls.
But, hopefully the success of some of the newer shops, along with everyone’s recent penchant for sourdough, will usher in a new appreciation for quality bagels in Big Sky Country.
Click here to see our map of bagel shops in Montana.
What are your favorite Montana bagels?