2K’s Kafe owner Karla greets diners with a pot of coffee and a big smile
We round the corner of a quiet downtown street in Great Falls, Montana at 7:30 am. “There it is,” I tell my companion, pointing to the sign: 2K’s Kafe. “It looks closed,” she says doubtfully.
But the line of cars on a mostly empty street says otherwise. Sure enough, the little diner is jammed, at this early hour, with locals. They’re chowing down on substantial plates of bacon and eggs, hubcap-sized pancakes and biscuits and gravy, all while chewing the fat.
We squeeze into the lone vacant booth, order (I get a German sausage scramble) and chat with the waitress, who happens to be owner Karla. Her mother, Karen, used to run the place, hence the 2K name.
German sausage scramble with sourdough toast; a filling start to the day
The breakfast is fairly typical diner fare. The real charm is the local, unhurried character in a world of cookie-cutter outlets.
Creative transformation of doors into tables at Wake Cup Coffee House, Fort Benton, Montana
Traditionally, I’ve only stopped in Great Falls long enough to gas up along the I-15 while gazing across the freeway at the prison and its razor-wire fence. But there is more to this surprisingly large city of 57,000 people. It boasts an interpretive centre dedicated to the Lewis and Clark expedition (which passed through here in 1805), a museum celebrating cowboy artist Charlie Russell and 40 miles of trails along the Missouri River. Like much of Montana, downtown Great Falls has seen better days and some eateries—while offering decent, bountiful grub—could easily be defined as dives. But there are at least a couple of places worthy of a short detour off the highway.