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Our South Dakota restaurant tour revealed several delicious ethnic dishes, like pho, a Vietnamese soup that we sampled at Saigon in Rapid City.
Our South Dakota restaurant tour revealed several delicious ethnic dishes, like pho, a Vietnamese soup that we sampled at Saigon in Rapid City.

A Tasty Resolution

Jan 24, 2017

Only 8 percent of those who make January resolutions keep them, according to a study by the University of Scranton. Apparently most people make their resolutions too complicated or difficult, ending in failure. We’ve prepared the following bucket list of our favorite menu items from across the state and propose you adopt visiting them as your new resolution for 2017. Our writers travel thousands of miles exploring South Dakota, and we’ve found some favorite treats. We could have listed hundreds instead of the 26 below, but finding your own may be part of the fun — and part of your resolution.

  1. POTATOES BRULÉ, a favorite of regulars at Vermillion’s Cafe Brulé, features diced and broiled potatoes in a creamy cheese sauce.
  1. A TASTEE with fries and a black raspberry malt at Tastee Treet, a fast-food dinosaur still going strong in downtown Yankton. What’s a Tastee? A tavern, of course — or a loose meat sandwich, a sloppy joe or a Maid-Rite.
  1. ROAST DUCK at Czeckers in Yankton, with all the Eastern European trimmings — dumplings, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and a kolache for dessert. Duck is featured Friday nights and roast beef on Saturdays.
  1. BEAN SOUP at Fanny Horner’s in Mitchell. Jon and Janice Airhart were given the recipe by a customer called Slim in the 1980s. Fanny’s is also famous for sour cream pie.
  1. CHILI FRIES (or enjoy cook Dorothy Berg’s famous chili a la carte) at Joe’s Cafe in Alexandria. Dorothy has been at the grill for 24 years.
  1. CHISLIC at Meridian Corner, at the junction of Highways 18 and 81 south of Freeman. It’s where the cubed and seasoned meat-on-a-stick tradition first arrived from Russia.
  1. TABOULI at Sanaa’s 8th Street Gourmet in Sioux Falls. Tabouli is a Mediterranean salad made of parsley and bulgur wheat — healthy, tasty and fresh.
  1. SAMBUSA at Lalibela, an Ethiopian restaurant in Sioux Falls. The triangular pastry is stuffed with beef, chicken or lentils along with sautéed onions, peppers and spices. (Also try the vegetarian sampler!)
  1. A BURGER from Nick’s Hamburger Shop in Brookings. They’ve been deep fried and sold by the bag since 1929. 
  1. IRISH BOXTY (a potato pancake with steak or chicken) at Dempsey’s brewpub in Watertown. Wiener schnitzel and spaetzle are also popular.
  1. BROASTED CHICKEN at the Palm Garden Cafe in Aberdeen. The recipe dates back to 1932 when the cafe was founded. Though closed for decades, the popular eatery on Highway 12 reopened a few years ago.
  1. REUBEN SANDWICH (sauerkraut & corned beef on rye) at the Dakota Cafe in Hosmer. On Thursdays, enjoy it with knoephla soup — a specialty of the cook, JoAnne Gisi, who grew up with German cuisine.
  1. GERMAN FRY SAUSAGE and cheese buttons, served Thursdays at Dakota Jo’s in Tolstoy. The sausage comes from Kauk’s Meat Market in Eureka. Try the rhubarb desserts in season.
  1. ROAST BEEF with real mashed potatoes at D&D Delights in Java — or enjoy the German sausage with sauerkraut and real mashed potatoes.
  1. PRAIRIE DOG MOUND, a concoction of fried potatoes, onions, bacon and cheese topped with eggs at the Prairie Dog Cafe in McLaughlin.
  1. STEAK TIPS at Sparky’s in Isabel, where the chef serves more than seven tons of beef a year in a town of 300. Ryan Maher and his crew cut their own meat, marinate the marshmallow-size tips overnight and serve them with a salad bar, potato and Texas toast.
  1. MOUSSAKA at the Bay Leaf Cafe in Spearfish. Bay Leaf, a resurrected 19th century wood hotel, is one of the state’s most interesting eateries. Moussaka is a lasagna-like dish of lamb with eggplant rather than noodles. The lamb is grass fed in nearby Wyoming.
  1. BUFFALO RAVIOLI at the Deadwood Social Club. Pasta stuffed with buffalo sausage and topped with three cheeses and a homemade red sauce. The Deadwood Social Club occupies the second floor of the historic Saloon No. 10, where locals re-enact the killing of Wild Bill Hickok every afternoon.
  1. PHO at the Saigon restaurant in Rapid City. Pho is a noodle soup with beef, chicken or the authentic Vietnamese version of beef meatballs.
  1. TAMALES wrapped in cornhusks at the unpretentious little brown shack on E. North Street in Rapid City called Sabor a Mexico.
  1. WALNUT PIE at Desperados on Hill City’s main street.
  1. BREAKFAST BURRITO at Baker’s in Custer. Eggs, sausage, hash browns, salsa and cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla and topped with homemade green chile sauce.
  2. CHOCOLATE DOUGHNUTS at Wall Drug. Or should we use the singular “doughnut” because one is plenty, especially if you just finished the buffalo burger.
  1. HOT ROAST BEEF at any of South Dakota’s livestock auction barns, because you dare not serve average beef to ranchers. Fort Pierre, Burke and Sisseton are a few favorites. 
  1. STRAWBERRY PIE, the standard at Al’s Oasis in Oacoma for decades, is still available in season but Chef Donnie Dominiack now bakes a lemon cream cheese pie that regular diners can’t resist. 
  1. THE BIG MIKE at Manolis, a quaint grocery store, tavern and sandwich shop in Huron. The Big Mike is a toasted bagel with ham, pepperjack and cream cheese.

What did we miss? Share your South Dakota menu favorites with fellow readers at our online restaurant bucket list.


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