If you keep your dining and nightlife expectations to a minimum you’ll find that North Dakota’s quiet Midwest environment has plenty of tasty restaurants and friendly little bars to enjoy. Classic American cuisine dominates the menus of nearly every eatery in the state, even in the biggest cities like Fargo and Bismarck. Stick to the diners and cozy looking cafés and you’ll be fine. While you’re unlikely to do much clubbing in North Dakota, the state’s larger towns have some really cool bars where the drinks are strong and the atmosphere as relaxed and casual as possible.

Bars and Pubbing in North Dakota

The folks in North Dakota don’t care much for flashy nightclubs or posh cocktail bars. They venture out in the evenings to have a drink with friends, so they prefer their watering holes to be relaxing and comfortable. You can expect things like pool tables, dart boards, jukeboxes, and sports on the TV at most bars in this state. The drinks are usually served strong and at very reasonable prices. Last call is usually made after midnight and bars close up at 1:00 a.m. Smoking is not allowed in enclosed drinking areas or restaurants in North Dakota.

Fargo has some of the best bars in the state, thanks in part to North Dakota State University. An ideal representative of the classic dive bar is Fargo’s Bismarck Tavern (522 N. Broadway Dr, Fargo) where the whiskey is always served as a double shot, the beer is ice cold, and the floor littered with pull tabs. Another great place after dark in Fargo is Dempsey’s Public House (226 N. Broadway Dr, Fargo), an Irish pub on the ground level with live music on the floor above.

The capital Bismarck also has a decent range of bars. Wander around the downtown core and you will find plenty of nice spots like the Peacock Alley Bar (422 E. Main Ave, Bismarck) inside the historic Patterson Hotel. Borrowed Bucks Roadhouse (118 S. 3rd Street, Bismarck) is another fun local joint known simply as Bucks. Popular tourist towns like Devils Lake usually have good bars as well such as Thirsty’s (318 4th Street, Devils Lake).

Dining and Cuisine in North Dakota

There’s no particular dish that North Dakota is famous for, but the wealth of local wildlife like bison and pheasant, and fish such as walleye and northern pike are fresh and fantastic. Most restaurants thrive on the usual American menu items like steak, burgers, seafood, and pasta. Breakfast and lunch is done particularly well in the state’s many diners and hometown cafés, where prices hark back to the 1970s and the plates are piled high. Ethnic cuisine might be hard to find outside of the big cities like Bismarck and Fargo.

For a fine dining experience in Fargo it doesn’t get much better than Sarello’s (28 Center Mall Ave, Moorhead) with its extensive wine list and attentive service. Monte’s Downtown (220 N. Broadway Dr, Fargo) is another local favorite for a fancy meal out.

In the capital Bismarck the best restaurants are found in its historic downtown district. If you prefer an American chain eatery, just head out to Interstate 94 near Kirkwood Mall. The Peacock Alley American Bar and Grill (422 E. Main Ave, Bismarck) is a perennial award winner for its menu, beer tap, and cool ambiance. For upscale Italian try Bistro (1100 E. Front Ave, Bismarck), another local award winner, or the Pirogue Grill (121 N. 4th Street, Bismarck) for regional Midwest cuisine that changes with the seasons.