This Montana Guest Ranch Is an Unexpected Culinary Hotspot — With Massive Steaks and Incredible Cocktails

Lone Mountain Ranch is already known for its famous sleigh rides and cozy guest cabins. In 2022, it's focusing on its food and beverage program.

Dining at Lone Mountain Ranch
Photo: Courtesy of Lone Mountain Ranch

It's no secret that Montana, specifically the Bozeman area, continues to draw crowds from around the world. In 2021 alone, Bozeman-Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) saw nearly 2 million visitors, a record year for what's now known as "Montana's busiest airport."

Many of those travelers head to Big Sky, a ski lover's paradise just 45 miles away from Bozeman. While it may be known for its winter sports, Big Sky has plenty to offer year-round, including its proximity to Yellowstone and glorious views in every direction. In the warmer months, nordic and alpine skiing are traded for mountain biking and horse riding; golfing and whitewater rafting replace dogsledding and snowmobiling.

Outside of Montana's spectacular landscape and seemingly endless adventures in Big Sky, there's something else bringing travelers to the area: the food. Specifically, the gastronomic feats and restaurant upgrades happening at Lone Mountain Ranch.

Exterior of Lone Mountain Ranch
Courtesy of Lone Mountain Ranch

Part of the rapidly expanding Auric Road group of properties, Lone Mountain Ranch has long been known for its restorative nature and family-friendly activities, including a horse-drawn sleigh ride that books up almost instantly. The 100-year-old guest ranch isn't resting on its hospitality laurels, however, particularly in the culinary department.

The on-property restaurant, Horn & Cantle, welcomed its new executive chef, Scott Mechura, in November. Mechura is a familiar face for those in the Gallatin Valley. "I've been in the area for more than 20 years, and [I've been] coming here for vacation since 1989," he told Travel + Leisure.

It's that familiarity with the region that partially informs the direction he's taking the ranch's food and beverage program in: "I generally know what guests and travelers want when they're here."

So while the heart and history of the restaurant will stay the same, Mechura and his team are working to give the authentic frontier-style cooking a refresh with a "timeless Montana steakhouse" feel.

Interior of Horn & Cantle at Lone Mountain Ranch
Teri Bocko/Courtesy of Lone Mountain Ranch

Horn & Cantle, which sits steps away from the property's guest cabins, is exactly what travelers expect from a Montana experience. At the entrance, you'll see a saddle (a reference to the restaurant's name), the ceilings are framed with rustic wooden beams, and a roaring fireplace casts its warmth and light across the dining room.

"When you see this room at night with candles and the fireplace, filled with both locals and people from Atlanta or Florida or Los Angeles or Dallas… It's a special place," says Mechura.

It's that Montana magic that continues to attract visitors, and it's not something Mechura plans to replace. Instead, his attention is on two things: the game featured on the menu (including elk, venison, and duck) and consistency — of both the product and the culture.

Dining at Horn & Cantle at Lone Mountain Ranch
Courtesy of Lone Mountain Ranch

"We're focusing on some ridiculously large cuts that are meant for a table to share; they're really fun," he said. Along with the restaurant's 32-ounce bone-in beef ribeye steak, Mechura introduced a bison tenderloin and a 3.5-inch, 64-ounce porterhouse, big enough to feed four adults.

Mechura plans to keep some of the restaurant's staples, items on the menu that are "timeless and associated with the ranch." Around half of the menu, though, will change with the seasons and availability.

Cake decorating at the Horn & Cantle at Lone Mountain Ranch
Courtesy of Lone Mountain Ranch

That's where the consistency in culture comes into play. "We want to continue to grow the program in terms of building relationships in the valley. We work with several local vendors [who provide] cheese, honey, lamb, pork, beef, duck, goat, goat's milk, and a plethora of produce."

Whether you're a guest or simply visiting the ranch for a hearty meal following a day of skiing or hiking, there are a couple of menu items you can't miss, according to Mechura.

"Start your night with the Lone Mountain (a cocktail made with bourbon, rye, Calvados, Carpano Antica, and angostura bitters)... And pick any number of wonderful Bordeauxs or California wines."

Making cocktails at Lone Mountain Ranch
Courtesy of Lone Mountain Ranch

For your main, Mechura says, you have to enjoy one of the steaks. It's a recipe that, in his words, will ensure that "you're not going to leave unsatisfied."

Along with the continued menu refreshes at Horn & Cantle, Mechura and the entire food and beverage team at Lone Mountain Ranch are also working on an indoor-outdoor bar, expected to open in late summer 2022. Lytle Bar, as it will be called, pays homage to Clarence Lytle, who homesteaded Lone Mountain Ranch in 1915.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles