After a day of cross-country skiing, snowmobiling or wildlife watching, its nice to find a pub to share a beer or glass of wine with friends. Its nice to have a place right in town to watch the game and nosh on homemade appetizers and pizza. In West Yellowstone, the Slippery Otter Pub is that place.
Situated on Canyon Street (West Yellowstones main drag), the Slippery Otter is a warm, relaxing environment suitable for families, sports fans and friends. The pub reopened last June with a remodel and a new owner.
Casey McCray was born and raised in West Yellowstone and has worked in restaurants for more than half her life impressive for someone who is just 27 years old. She wanted somewhere that families, with all their diverse dietary needs, could eat together.
Whether youre gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, or meat-and-potatoes, the whole family can eat together, McCray said. Everything is made in-house with fresh ingredients.
The bar boasts 27 mostly local beers on tap, plus a wine list with wines available by the glass.
Starters include hand-rolled jalapeño wontons with Montana huckleberry sauce made in-house.
One of the most popular meals is the elk burger, named in the top 10 Must-Have Montana Meals by National Geographic Traveler. They also serve Black Angus and bison burgers. A black bean burger and gluten-free buns are available.
If a burger isnt in the works, the Slippery Otter also serves pizza with 22 topping choices, and hand-rolled, homemade crust. All pizzas are topped with homemade Tuscan infused oil and fresh toppings. The staff favorite is the Hercules pizza: Tuscan infused oil, mozzarella, chicken, tomatoes, feta, garlic, kalamata olives and spinach.
The pubs contemporary decor is inspired by turn-of-the-century bars, and while spacious, is cozy and inviting.
Its like an old bar youd find in Butte or Missoula, McCray said.
Copper accents gleam against the dark walnut walls, and the stamped tin ceiling takes you back to a time when West Yellowstones streets were dirt and the Wild West was real. The custom walnut bar was made out of one piece of wood and serves as the focal piece for the restaurant.
Seven high-definition flat screen TVs fill the room, so even when you are on the edge of Yellowstone, you dont have to miss out on the big game.
If you arent ready to totally veg out and relax, challenge a friend to shuffleboard. The Slippery Otter has the only game in town.
A year and a half after buying the Slippery Otter, McCray really loves running the restaurant. Having grown up in West Yellowstone, she has a local following and lots of support from the community.
It also helps that we have good food and good service, she added.
Now McCray is giving back to West Yellowstone. Last October, she hosted an event that raised $500 for the Breast Cancer Foundation.
Next year we hope to raise $1,000 or more, she said. It feels good to be able to give back to my community.
The Slippery Otter is open daily except for Thanksgiving and Christmas at 139 North Canyon St. in West Yellowstone. Call 406-646-7050.
This story originally appeared in The Great Falls Tribune, March 8, 2014