The maxim ”eat, drink, and be merry” is especially useful when on vacation. If you’re a die-hard foodie, some things should just be tasted right from the source. Make meals a part of your Black Hills adventure by trying dishes unique to the area and experiencing things you normally wouldn’t try. We’ve chosen a few iconic South Dakota experiences—and our accompanying guide will help you to make the most of all your eating opportunities.
Don’t miss your chance to try a real South Dakota buffalo burger on your trip—the red meat that is good for you. Experience the value of eating locally raised meat served from locally owned and operated restaurants throughout the Black Hills. When you bite into your burger or steak, you will notice a slightly sweet, yet very rich flavor, which differs from beef. For the best flavor, order your bison medium-rare to rare; the meat dries out fast the more it’s cooked, since the fat content is so low.
For authentic, Western family fun under the stars, the Black Hills offers cowboy experiences like no other. Get your tickets for an area chuckwagon dinner and supper show—watch as Dakota-grown beefsteaks are grilled over the campfire, taste Dutch-oven side dishes, and fall back in time to an old-western scene. Grab your tin plate and get in line for beef, beans, baked potatoes, and biscuits, then kick back and enjoy real cowboy shoot-outs and music.
Dine with a view
Not everyone gets the opportunity to dine with the Presidents and Crazy Horse, but here in the Black Hills, people do it everyday. Enjoy delicious cuisine from a cup of espresso and breakfast to a full-course gourmet meal, while you sit in front of a cascading wall of windows showcasing Mount Rushmore or Crazy Horse Memorial.
Taste wild game
Elk with its clean, sweet taste can be found in common menu items such as elk stew, elk ravioli, or the usual burger or steak. Pheasant, which happens to be the state bird, is another game cuisine to taste. The high-protein meat is usually roasted and tastes similar to chicken. Both of these game meats are often served with pasta.
Fishing is a favorite activity of many that call the Black Hills home. With streams and lakes filled with trout and walleye, dinner can be caught fresh and enjoyed right on the spot when you go to a fish-n-fry café. At some locations, visitors can fish with provided poles and bait, then await a meal prepared with their own catch of the day.
Famous for their local mom-and-pop dessert shops, the Black Hills are a sweet-tooth’s haven. For example, the Alpine Inn in Hill City has a wide assortment of homemade delicacies. Or, watch in wonder through the storefront window as salt-water taffy is made in Keystone—or chocolates are created from scratch from Deadwood to Custer. Try a scoop of homemade ice cream in every town you visit. No matter where you go in the Hills—you can create sweet memories to take home.
Use our guide
Whether you’re looking for casual dining or upscale eateries, you’ll find it in our guide here. With a chain options and numerous locally-owned restaurants, visitors can enjoy everything from burgers and steaks to ethnic eats.
The state bread
South Dakota designated fry bread as the official state bread in February 2005, so you know it is going to be good. Indian Fry Bread is a Native American quick bread, and the way it is served varies from region to region—with different tribes holding unique recipes to specific areas. It is light and crispy, and is a perfect combination of salty and sweet.
Don’t spoil it
If, after a long day of sightseeing, you want to head back to your hotel—many local restaurants deliver. Ask your front desk for menus and ordering options. There is something delicious for everyone at the many attractive cafes, winery bistros, and buffets throughout the Black Hills area.