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May 31, 2013 07:14 AM

Mt. Rushmore, Deadwood, Black Hills of South Dakota!

I moved here 14 years ago from a populous area and love it. Millions of people come here for vacations because of Mt. Rushmore, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Crazy Horse, or come through here to hit the Rockies.

But if you don't know where to go for food, you can wind up with some fairly lousy fare from proprietors who serve microwaved distributor food.

So here's some tips for good eating:

The Alpine Inn, Hill City, the heart of the hills--a German-inspired lunch menu in a beautifully restored historic hotel. Night time menu features only a steak dinner with potato and salad, but it's good and wallet-friendly. Accepts only checks and cash though.

Enigma, Rapid City--all organic menu, fantastic salads, steaks and specialties. Not exactly family-friendly but perfect for couples.
Their "Fork and Knife Caesar" is the best I've ever had.

Custer (southern hills)--Sage Creek Grille. Open-faced salmon salad/sandwich is divine

Spearfish (northern hills) The Bay Leaf Cafe--uses locally-sourced foods. Wonderful charming, simple atmosphere.

As a general rule of thumb, when you're in the tourist-trap towns (Deadwood, Wall, Sturgis), the food is fairly dismal, so it's best to drive to Hill City, Custer, Spearfish or Rapid City to eat.

You can always Yelp these if you're dubious, and no, I don't own, nor have friends who own, any of these places. I'm just sharing the foodie-joy.
Enjoy and happy vacationing!

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  1. +1 on the Alpine Inn in Hill City

    1. Funny you mention this. I was in your beautiful area last fall for the Buffalo roundup and other sightseeing. I had some of the worst meals of any trip. Our first day there, we went into a cafe and ordered a Bison Burger (of course, right?). It was like a hard, crunchy hockey puck. I think it was sitting in a steam tray for a few hours. We also had a nasty meal at a steakhouse in one of the casinos in Deadwood. Tough gristly steak and mashed potatoes FROM A BOX...ew...

      It got to the point where we were so desperate for anything edible that we drove around Rapid City and were thrilled to find a Perkins restaurant to eat in. We also ended up at Outback Steakhouse two nights in a row, just because we knew we could get edible food there.

      The one halfway decent meal we had was on the last night we were there when we went to the Firehouse Brewing Co. That was a pretty decent meal. I liked their cheese soup, and the burgers were RARE...not pre cooked.

      1. To the first poster, you are spot on!

        To the second poster, I'm so SORRY I didn't post this first. I could probably guess where you went. So I'm sorry.

        Please come back to our beautiful area again, food-news in mind.

        Food Network is here this weekend for their upcoming season of their food truck wars. IF you KNOW where the good food is, this place has it, but if you follow the tourism-chain of BS, you'll get taken.

        1. good lord. Wall (and Wall Drug especially) was such a tourist dump back in 1974. I do hope the cafe (in the lodge, great room but no hopes for the food) at Mt. Rushmore still allows a fantasy that Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint are in the room.

          1. Yup, sorry MWK that you didn't have a good culinary experience. This is why I posted this. Hopefully, chowhounds will see this and take note for their vacations. There's excellent food here, but it is in places like Rapid City, not near the tourist traps.