It's Friday evening in Williston, N.D., and Basil Restaurant is buzzing with diners sipping sake bombs and ordering up Flaming Tiger rolls.
After dinner, customers can head over to the Williston Brewing Company and sample 1280 Ale, one of 40 beers on tap. With 80 more varieties available by the bottle, the locally owned bar and restaurant claims to offer North Dakota's largest beer selection.
A year ago this kind of night out simply did not exist in Williston. Oil was first discovered in North Dakota's Bakken region in 1951, but it took more than 60 years for sushi and craft beer to arrive.
In just the last two months both of these popular new establishments have set up shop in North Dakota's most notorious boomtown, unofficial headquarters of the state's oil and gas fracking boom. Until recently, the idea that the town could support a sushi restaurant at all would have struck some residents as far-fetched.
"People said no one will eat sushi," said Lee Lusht, interim executive director of the Williston Chamber of Commerce. "Now it's packed. I can't get in."It was my experience in the Bakken a couple weeks ago that the "restaurant problem" for the Bakken was over. There was no difficulty in finding a place to eat any more. Perhaps at some locations -- Buffalo Wings, sushi, etc -- there is standing room only and a wait, but at Gramma Sharon's -- generally easy to find a table. Except on Taco Wednesday.