South Dakota’s unique cuisine is something everyone must experience. The state’s gastronomy is characterized by delicious, hearty meals. From traditional foods like Indian tacos, all the bison meat your heart desire’s, and plenty of vegetarian/vegan-friendly options, the Mount Rushmore State won’t leave you hungry. Here are the 14 best restaurants in the state.
Firehouse is one of Rapid City’s most unique restaurants. Housed in the original Rapid City firehouse building built in 1915, it is full of not only history but also delicious cuisine. The menu has a wide variety of meals, with healthy and vegetarian options. Exposed brick, antique fireman equipment, and cozy lighting make the atmosphere one of a kind. Attached to the Firehouse Restaurant is the Firehouse Brewing Company. Firehouse brews approximately 40 unique beer styles each year, with nine brews on tap at any given time. From the brewery to the restaurant, Firehouse is a local favorite!
This family burger joint is a local hotspot. It’s always the most hopping place in town, and the wait it well worth it. If you’re looking for some fried comfort food, you’ll find the very best here. Appetizers include deep fried “Soft & Ugly Pretzel Fingers” served with beer cheese sauce, cheese curds, and barbeque pulled pork nachos. What they’re famous for though is their one-of-a-kind burgers. The burger menu features items like “The Black Hills Blues,” with blue cheese crumbles, bacon, garlic aioli, and grilled onions, “The Fatty Smitty,” with cheddar cheese, bacon, fried egg, lettuce, tomato, and garlic aioli, or “The Texan,” with pepper jack cheese, grilled onions, jalapenos, bacon, and chipotle BBQ sauce. They serve something for everyone, with two vegetarian burgers, “Vegetarian- The Lousy Hunter” and “Vegetarian-The Loaded Hunter.” Trust us—you’ll want to try them all!
A trip to South Dakota is not complete without eating some South Dakota staple foods, and Cheyenne Crossing is the best place to indulge. With the large Native American influence in the state, it is one of the best places to try Indian tacos. Served on flat fry bread topped with bison meat or beef, veggies like lettuce and tomatoes, and cheese, these tacos will make you forget about traditional tacos! Head to Cheyenne Crossing, deep in the Black Hills, for traditional South Dakota cuisine. The restaurant is small and quaint, but don’t let its size fool you. From bison burgers, to signature tacos, to sour-dough pancakes, you won’t leave hungry.
What could be better than spending a day exploring Badlands National Park? Having dinner at Cedar Park Restaurant afterward! The restaurant has a large offering of locally and regionally sources dishes, including the Sioux taco, fluffy, homemade fry bread topped with refried beans, buffalo meat or vegetarian spicy black bean burger, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and sprinkled with black olives. There is a selection of other entrees available, including vegetarian and gluten-free options, but the Sioux taco is a treat you won’t want to miss out on!
When it comes to great Brazilian food, Sioux Falls isn’t usually what comes to mind. Yet, the Carnaval Brazilian Grill easily has the most succulent choice of meats in the Mount Rushmore State. Stop by the only Brazilian steakhouse in the state to enjoy a traditional Brazilian churrasco style meal! Their signature specialty is the “Gaucho Meal”—a feast of slow-roasted churrasco meats served straight from the churrasqueira skewer. When you are ready for more meat, simply place your service indicator from red to green, ensuring speedy service. Too much meat? This specialty also comes with the hot and cold salad bar and unlimited coconut fried bananas. For those who don’t enjoy unlimited delicious Brazilian meats, there are smaller plates with items like empanadas, bacon-wrapped lion tips, samba scallops, flame-roasted pizza or flatbreads, salads, burgers, sandwiches, and seafood. There is something for everyone at this exceptional steakhouse.
The best part of a trip to Crazy Horse isn’t the hiking or the view, but rather the meal from Laughing Water Restaurant. The casual elegance, along with the spectacular view, only serves to complement the fantastic traditional Native American foods. Dine on specialties such as tatanka stew, made from prime cuts of Black Hills buffalo, slow cooked with carrots, sweet peas, pearl onions, potatoes, simmered with a specialty blend of zesty seasonings and served with Indian fry bread, Indian tacos, home-made Indian fry bread topped with beef, refried beans, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions, and sour cream, or Wojapi, a type of desert in which fry bread is topped with warm berry sauce. Dining on traditional Native American food in the shadow of Crazy Horse is an authentic South Dakota experience that you cannot miss!
Al’s Oasis has always been a must-stop for tourists along Interstate 90, so whether you’re a tourist or a local, Al’s Oasis is the place to be. While at Al’s, make sure to try South Dakota’s traditional food, the chislic. It is marinated cubes of beef, fried to order. For another of South Dakota’s favorite foods, order the Buffalo Burger, one-third of a pound. fresh ground buffalo patty cooked to order. Once you take your first bite, you’ll know that Al’s is indeed an oasis.
Get away from the noise of the city and take a seat in the historic Stampmill Restaurant. Built in 1897 by one of the nonmilitary attachments to Custer’s 7th Cavalry, it is a favorite stop for history buffs. The restaurant is nothing short of beautiful, with exposed brick, polished wood floors, and tasteful turn of the century décor. The most popular dishes are the Worcestershire chicken and grilled sirloin tips, but we’re sure you’ll be more than satisfied with any menu item!
A visit to South Dakota is not complete without a meal from the most infamous saloon in the Wild West. The Deadwood Social Club, located on the second floor of the Saloon #10 complex, is full of history, fantastic food, and maybe even the ghost of Wild Bill Hickok. This is the saloon where the Wild West legend met his match in 1876. The old wooden floors and walls, historic memorabilia, and lighting make it feel like you’re stepping into the past. While the atmosphere is old-fashioned, the menu is anything but. It features fresh options such as beef wellington served with bourbon sweet potatoes, walleye topped with balsamic roasted grape tomatoes, buffalo ravioli, and even gluten free pasta upon request.
The Desperados Cowboy Restaurant in quiet Hill City is a can’t miss for cowboy cuisine. The restaurant has a delightful old town feel, from the buffalo skull decorations to the old-time cash register. The cuisine is authentic Wild West with dishes like walnut pie, cornbread, country fried steak, buffalo tips, buffalo burger, and pork brisket. Hop on your horse and ride to Hill City for a dining experience you won’t get anywhere else.
With 40 taps of beer in constant rotation, the Independent Ale House knows how to keep customers interested. Not only do they serve beer, but also a dozen different handcrafted pizza. Beer and pizza go together like peanut butter and jelly, so head over to Independent Ale House to experience the best that Rapid City has to offer.
Grille 26 is known across the state for its remarkable ambiance and top notch cuisine. Chef Patrick Schmidt serves delicious dishes with traditional New Orleans recipes and ingredients. The most popular dishes are the champagne chicken, walleye served with skillet fingerling potatoes and citrus beurre blanc, strawberry rhubarb cheesecake served with crème anglaise, and the buffalo burger.
Stop by this quaint corner restaurant in downtown Sioux Falls for classic all-American menu items. This little piece of Americana serves sandwiches, a wide selection of burgers, noodles, and American classics like the Coney Dog, jambalaya, and diner meatloaf. For desert, order one of their Instagram-worthy Crazy Shakes. Flavors include strawberry cheesecake, Chocomint Crunch, Emmanomnom, Salty Dog, s’mores, or Whatchamaycallit. This diner’s charm will draw you in and the taste will bring you back.
For a high-class dining experience with well-prepared selections, Tally’s is the go-to restaurant. Once you step through the door, the warmth and charm immediately draws you in. The best dishes are the buffalo steak sandwich, elk osso bucco, or the root beer bison.