- Almost every menu in Bozeman, Montana, seemed to have bison on it.
- The wild game meat is said to be leaner and healthier than regular beef, with less fat and fewer calories.
- I tried bison beef for the first time and found it to be sweeter, and more tender than regular beef.
- This story is part of our Next Stop series, in which Insider visits the 10 hottest US destinations for 2020. Click here to read more and see all the places we're exploring.
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Montana is known for its Rocky Mountains and Great Plains: its snow-capped peaks, alpine lakes, and many outdoor activities.
Food, not so much.
Even a Montanan I work with grappled to come up with an iconic local dish, venturing a guess with a tentative "huckleberries?" The only thing I consistently saw on menus across Bozeman, Montana, on a recent trip was bison.
Intrigued, having never tried the wild game meat, I decided to order a bison burger, and compare it to its regular beef counterpart.
Keep scrolling to see how bison and beef burgers compare.
While on a trip to Bozeman, Montana, I visited Montana Ale Works, a stylish spot inside a historic Northern Pacific Railway freight building.
Find out more about Montana Aleworks here.
It even features a historic freight car that doubles as part of the dining room.
The place was enormous and had so many people working that it felt a little bit likeThe Cheesecake Factory: a big production that runs like an efficient, well-oiled machine.
The award-winning restaurant prides itself in a "creative upscale-casual menu sourced with fresh, local ingredients." It serves only Montana pasture-raised meat and locally-sourced, sustainably-grown produce.
I ordered the "classic & local" beef burger for $11.95 with a side of coleslaw, and the bison burger for $15.95 with a standard side of Parmesan and pepper fries. I ordered both medium.
You could immediately see the difference when they arrived: The bison burger looked thicker, and more medium-rare than medium. The meat also looked a little coarser than the beef.
My husband and I each had half a beef burger and half a bison burger. We agreed that the bison tasted sweeter and more tender than the beef burger, as well as smokier somehow. It had a more char-grilled taste than the beef burger.
He thought the bison burger was also juicer than the beef burger, though I didn't really notice that.
We both agreed that if we hadn't known we were eating bison, we probably would have never guessed it wasn't beef, and thus it may not really be worth the extra $4.
That said, we both liked the bison's sweetness. Bison is also leaner than beef and said to be a healthier choice, as it has almost 25% fewer calories than beef, as well as less fat.
According to Healthline, bison meat is more tender and softer than regular beef thanks to " finer fat marbling." So, if you're looking to indulge in a burger without too much guilt, bison is for you.
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