The Bozeman food scene is heating up this summer, thanks in no small part to independent restaurant owners pushing up the bar and opening new venues, hiring great chefs, and offering amazing food.

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Cafe Fresco, which managed to hold on while located in a tiny store front on Seventh Avenue is now ensconced in a lovely setting along Bozeman Creek, on the north side of Mendenhall just east of Rouse (map). The Italian inspired food is terrific, and the lunch crowd is chowing down on delicious paninis and salads, and dinner includes a number of entrees and a decent wine list.

It’s hard to beat Saffron Table, the newest addition to Bozeman, aptly located in La Chatelaine’s former building, sandwiched between Main and Babcock, beside Roost, the new fried chicken spot in the former Zydeco spot.

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Aloo-palak and chola chaat, traditional spinach
and potato dish with a side of tangy chickpea salad

Saffron Table, the brain child and passion of Pakistani-born Andleeb Dawood is as exotic fare as you’ll find in Montana. Each bite of food is power-packed with spices such as cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamon, coriander, and a few peppers to kick it up. The ingredients are fresh and treated with reverence. Many of the recipes originated in Andleeb’s mother’s kitchen, such as the lamb shoulder, rich with sauce, flaking apart like a pulled pork, succulent and so good you’ll elbow your fork in for the last bite.

The Saffron Table’s take on sushi is revolutionary. Yes, the tuna is sliced paper-thin, and is ultra fresh, but the flavorings in the minced cucumbers and tomatoes is different, and then the tiny dabs of tamarind give the entire dish a citrus zing that excites your mouth. And, for dessert, the tiny filo pillows stuffed with chocolate and served with an Indian inspired sauce will leave you wanting more.

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If you haven’t yet tried Saffron Table, make your reservation now. It’s a whole lot easier to drive down Main Street than to book a flight to Pakistan or India. Find them on Facebook.