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DeeAnn and Stu Surma of Java temporarily closed their D&D Delights Cafe due to COVID-19 concerns.
DeeAnn and Stu Surma of Java temporarily closed their D&D Delights Cafe due to COVID-19 concerns.

Our Favorite Eats

Dec 21, 2020

We discover many family restaurants, bars and bistros in our travels across South Dakota. Sadly, many are struggling due to the 2020 pandemic. Some have closed forever, some temporarily. Stu and DeeAnn Surma (pictured) of Java closed their D&D Delights Cafe when several COVID cases arose in their little town of 100, but they hope to reopen soon. 

Before the pandemic, we compiled a list of staff favorites. Fortunately most of the establishments are still open. We share it now as a timely reminder of how lucky we are to have such folks. They always appreciate your support, but these days it is a godsend. Most serve to-go orders, and all are concerned about keeping you safe and healthy so patronize them as you can.

Use this as a starter list. Part of the fun is discovering your own favorites … just be sure to share them with us! 


  1. POTATOES BRULÉ, a favorite of regulars at Vermillion’s Cafe Brulé, features diced and broiled potatoes in a creamy cheese sauce.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. BEAN SOUP at the now-closed Fanny Horner’s in Mitchell. Jon and Janice Airhart were given the recipe by a customer called Slim in the 1980s. Fanny’s was also famous for sour cream pie.

  5. 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.

  6. CHISLIC at Meridian Corner, at the junction of Highways 18 and 81 south of Freeman. Hutchinson County is where the cubed and seasoned meat-on-a-stick tradition first arrived from Russia.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!)

  9. A BURGER from Nick’s Hamburger Shop in Brookings. They’ve been deep fried and sold by the bag since 1929. 

  10. IRISH BOXTY (a potato pancake with steak or chicken) at Dempsey’s brewpub in Watertown. Wiener schnitzel and spaetzle are also popular.

  11. 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. CLOSED BY COVID.

  12. REUBEN SANDWICH (sauerkraut & corned beef on rye) at the Dakota Cafe in Hosmer. Knoephla soup — a specialty of the cook, JoAnne Gisi, who grew up with German cuisine — was their Thursday special. CLOSED.

  13. GERMAN FRY SAUSAGE and cheese buttons, was served Thursdays at Dakota Jo’s in Tolstoy before it closed, but the sausage is still available at Kauk’s Meat Market in Eureka. 

  14. ROAST BEEF with real mashed potatoes at D&D Delights in Java — or enjoy the German sausage with sauerkraut and real mashed potatoes. CLOSED TEMPORARILY BY COVID.

  15. PRAIRIE DOG MOUND, a concoction of fried potatoes, onions, bacon and cheese topped with eggs at the Prairie Dog Cafe in McLaughlin. CLOSED.

  16. 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.

  17. MOUSSAKA at the Bay Leaf Cafe in Spearfish, made with grass-fed lamb from nearby Wyoming. Bay Leaf, a resurrected 19th century wood hotel, was one of the state’s most interesting eateries. Moussaka is a lasagna-like dish of lamb with eggplant rather than noodles. CLOSED.

  18. 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.

  19. PHO at the Saigon restaurant in Rapid City. Pho is a noodle soup with beef, chicken or the authentic Vietnamese version of beef meatballs. CLOSED

  20. TAMALES wrapped in cornhusks at the unpretentious little brown shack on E. North Street in Rapid City called Sabor a Mexico.

  21. WALNUT PIE at Desperados on Hill City’s main street. CLOSED FOR WINTER.

  22. 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. CLOSED FOR THE SEASON.

  23. CHOCOLATE DOUGHNUTS at Wall Drug. Or should we use the singular “doughnut” because one is plenty, especially if you just finished the buffalo burger.

  24. HOT ROAST BEEF at any of South Dakota’s livestock auction barns, because you dare not serve average beef to ranchers. Fort PierreBurke and Sisseton are a few favorites. 

  25. 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. 

  26. THE BIG MIKE at Manolis, a quaint grocery store, tavern and sandwich shop in Huron that will celebrate its 100th year in 2025. The Big Mike is a toasted bagel with ham, pepper jack and cream cheese.


03:26 pm - Mon, December 21 2020
Mary Hammond said:
We always stop at a restaurant/bar on Main St. in Roscoe, SD. Can't recall the name
but the 1st time we stopped we had German Kuchen and we were hooked. Love the
people there. They are so friendly !!
04:06 pm - Mon, December 21 2020
Stephanie Angelos said:
Drop in at The Commerce on Main Street in Plankinton . Great food and specials.
05:38 am - Wed, December 23 2020
Brenda Blumenberg said:
We love stopping at all of the small towns! Have you tried the Maple frosted donut at Wall Drug with a scoop of ice cream on top? It was Dad’s favorite!
07:39 pm - Tue, February 1 2022
When we lived near Wall, we used to send Wall Drug donuts to people for Christmas. Even though it was a 'crummy' package of crumbs when the packages arrived, everybody still totally enjoyed those crumbs. I wish someone would send us some Wall Drug donut crumbs to us now that we are retired in Bella Vista, AR. We are next door neighbors to 'Diane and Glen' - Diane used to work at Wall Drug in the bookstore mostly, but also in the other departments - and now we are neighbors - we would all love some donuts!

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