You can bank on delicious food and great people Tall Boys, Hobson, Montana.
I’m so lucky…getting to live like a visitor in 13 counties across Central Montana. I recently moved to Montana, from Iowa and accepted the director of Central Montana Tourism region. This means, Central Montana includes, Toole, Liberty, Hill, Blaine, Fergus, Petroleum, Wheatland, Judith Basin, Meagher, Cascade, Chouteau, Teton and Pondera. To better acclimate me to the region, I travel the backroads visiting the Central Montana towns, meeting the Board of Directors and checking out museums, stores, hotels and restaurants.
I was on a mission to meet Valerie Carr, co-owner of Tall Boys Tavern and member of the Board of Directors….one of my bosses. On the drive there, it was a February day, wind was blowing, snow and ice were on the highway but the sun was out. It was the most scared I’ve ever been driving even though the sun was shining. You’ll know you are in Hobson as you turn at the two elevators. These two elevators are really important to the City of Hobson. That’s a story for another day but this town loves their grain elevators. It took two hours but I arrived at Tall Boys Tavern, having no idea of who I was meeting or what the place was. I was excited. My expectations were blown away.
The minute you walk into Tall Boys Tavern, you turn right for a fancier type of restaurant or you turn left for a fancier tavern. I immediately recognized this was an exceptional place, I figured the food would be good…I was liking the vibe. While I was waiting for Valerie to come out from the kitchen, I took a little stroll around the place. My first impressions were the detailed wood work around the entire building, the large photo featuring Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges sitting around a table playing cards, the map of Montana burned into one of the table, photos on canvases throughout the room and really cool bar layout. I was curious what all was housed in this building at one time, what was upstairs? Here came Valerie, I was about to have a great time learning about Hobson, MT and Tall Boys Tavern.
Here are some interesting facts about Tall Boys Tavern
· It’s home is the Murray Block Building, built in 1910; second floor housed the Hobson Opera House and theater, basketball team practiced in the building in the 1960s
· The theater dressing room walls are near covered with notes and signatures from actors and performers, Bobbie Leroy Kleiman signed it for the Senior Play, April 26, 1929
· It was a bank once, they drilled 18” into the safe, now it’s the beer cooler
· 602C Basin Max is a taxidermy-d bull hanging in our bar, that sired the vast majority of the world’s certified Angus beef
· Purchased in 2014 by Valerie Carr and daughter-in-law Liz Car, and opened Tall Boys Tavern, named for owners, Liz’s husband, Nate and Valerie’s son, Kyle. Yes, they’re tall boys.
· Old folk lore is the building is haunted. The lady ghost lives upstairs and makes her presence known late at night and early in the morning.
If you can handle steep stairs, you definitely need to ask the Carrs if you can venture upstairs. It looks like an intimate theater complete with a few rows of chairs. If you look up at the ceiling, you’ll see metal ceiling tile with unique patterns and moldings. You can feel the performances. You can get the feeling, this was a classy place.
So the large picture of Eastwood and Bridges…it depicts a scene from Thunderbolt & Lightfoot movie that was filmed in the bar in 1973. Liz will show you exactly where the scene was shot. She will tell you stories about Michael Keaton frequenting the tavern.
The photos that adorn the walls on both the tavern side and dining side are vintage pin=up inspired of photos of Tall Boys employees. It is the vision of Loni Carr, daughter to Valerie, photographer, designer and owner of Whiskey Ginger in Bozeman. The photos help make this tavern a destination.
All the beautiful wood work…from the bar, to the tables and even the rounder that would hold drink orders was first class. Liz told me all about the table that her father-in-law, Clint created. A map of Hobson, Ackley lake and the surrounding area are burned into the wood.
Fancy but not fancy. That’s the vibe that Liz and Valerie have created for the bar and restaurant that grew from their successful catering business. It’s definitely a unique place.
Before I left, I wanted to try something. It was 3 p.m. who doesn’t want cheese curds. Being from the Midwest I had tried countless cheese balls, curds, sticks…I know me some good cheese balls on the first bite. And ranch, if it’s homemade or Hidden-Valley or worse, I can detect it just by looking at it. When Liz brought the basket of curds out, I could tell something was different. I’ve never tasted cheese balls with honey. Real Montana honey. It’s like the first legal beer when you turn 21, you don’t forget it. I’ll never forget the time I had honey drizzled on my cheese balls. Hobson, Montana, Tall Boys with Liz and Valerie. You should try it. You’ll want to come back and try their burgers and steaks.
Did I mention I’ve been back three other times in less than three weeks? Did I mention it is 1.5 hours from my home to Tall Boys? The food is that good. The experience is that good. You can take that to the bank.
Thank you to Liz Carr for many of the photos.