Missoula’s late-night menu 

This weekend Missoula’s Dauphine’s restaurant begins offering food until 3:00 a.m. from its new location on the corner of West Broadway and Ryman Street. It marks one of a handful of downtown restaurants now catering to the hankerings of Missoula’s late-night revelers.

Taco del Sol’s downtown location recently extended its Friday night hours to 2:30 a.m., and the Badlander bar will soon roll out its long-awaited after-hours hot dog cart.

“It’s just to give people some late-night food options and help them sober up and have other options besides the Oxford and Finnegan’s,” says Scott MacIntyre, co-owner of the Badlander and the restaurant space Dauphine’s now leases. “And that way we’re also not just dumping hundreds of people out in the streets right at 2 a.m. It can help with the dispersal of large crowds of people because they can stay and eat.”

Dauphine’s owner Laurie McElroy hopes that’s the case. The late-night menu includes a few Dauphine’s staples, like biscuits and gravy, as well as new items like country-fried steak. Plus, Dauphine’s can use the building’s existing liquor license—another lure for bar-goers. “It’s all around a better deal,” she says of the move.

Dave Beaton, owner of Taco del Sol, says his restaurant sits at “ground zero” of Missoula’s bar scene, surrounded by Charlie B’s, the Iron Horse and the Old Post, making it well suited to satisfy late-night passersby. Although the popular taco and burrito joint’s license only allows it to sell beer until 11 p.m., Beaton plans to keep Taco del Sol open late on Friday nights through fall, when he’ll assess its success.

Representatives from the Missoula Downtown Association and the Montana Restaurant Association aren’t sure if restaurants extending hours amounts to a trend. MacIntyre, for one, thinks restaurants are smart to take advantage of one of the few recession-proof businesses.

“I’ve always had the belief, and it’s held true throughout time, that even in depressions people drink,” MacIntyre says. “They’ll drink in good times and bad times.”

Time will tell if the same goes for eating hot dogs. The new cart should hit the sidewalk outside the Badlander sometime in April.
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