On a South Dakota Tour, Eat and Drink Like a Local
Take a break from exploring the incredible outdoors in South Dakota to get introduced to its culinary scene. Seek out places that serve farm-fresh fare and local specialty items. Because agriculture is the No. 1 industry in South Dakota, eating food fresh from the farm is a way of life. Locally grown and sourced specialties include beef, bison, pork, chicken, produce and dairy products. In fact, the state is the No. 1 producer in the USA of bison and No. 5 for beef cows and lamb. Corn, soybeans and wheat are among the state’s top crops.
Restaurant menus throughout the state feature local favorites created over the decades from the melding of Native American, German and Scandinavian influences. There’s sweet, savory and everything in between: Try the state dessert – kuchen - a German pastry with custard and fruit; state bread - Indian fry bread - a flat bread eaten plain or with toppings; state bird - pheasant; and state fish - walleye. Just about anywhere, you can find an unbelievable steak.
Friendly locals will introduce you to other South Dakota specialties. Don’t worry about the pronunciations. What sounds too exotic will please the pickiest of palates. Keep your eyes open for bierocks, bread filled with meat and cabbage; chislic, pieces of grilled or fried meat on skewers; kolaches, mini pies with fruit or cream cheese fillings; lefse, Norwegian flatbread with butter and sugar; rhubarb, a tart stalk vegetable featured in sweet desserts; Indian tacos on fry bread; bison burgers; and hot beef sandwiches with gravy covering roast beef, mashed potatoes and bread.
Experience more of South Dakota’s flavors by sampling its beer, wine and spirits. Tour vineyards and winery operations and linger in tasting rooms throughout the state. In addition to traditional grapes, some of the most unique South Dakota wines are made with native fruits, such as chokecherries. Among the cluster of wineries thriving in eastern South Dakota are Schade’ in Volga, Strawbale in Renner, Tucker’s Walk in Garretson, Wilde Prairie in Brandon and With the Wind in Rosholt. In the Deadwood and Sturgis areas, sip at two Belle Joli locations. Try a trio of options in Hill City – Naked Winery, the award-winning Prairie Berry Winery and Stone Faces Winery & Distillery – and visit Firehouse Wine Cellar in Rapid City for more local varieties.
Need help plotting a course to eat and drink your way across South Dakota? Check out the myriad offerings with tour providers showing visitors the best places.
- Whether it’s caught wild or harvested from a farm, you must try walleye, South Dakota’s state fish. Popular presentations of the mild, flaky and versatile fish include breaded and fried, baked, pan-seared, steamed and grilled.
- Two must-try Native American foods are wasna, a Lakota-inspired protein-rich mix of bison meat and berries, and wojapi, a traditional Lakota recipe for sweet and fruity dipping sauce for Indian fry bread.
- There are nearly two dozen breweries throughout the state, and most are near Rapid City, Spearfish and Sioux Falls.
- Distillers in the state offer samples of their spirits, including whiskey, vodka and moonshine. Distilleries worth a visit include Black Hills Contraband in Rapid City, Black Hills Dakota in Sturgis and Glacial Lakes in Watertown.
- Those seeking an international flair in larger cities like Sioux Falls and Rapid City will find authentic restaurants serving Chinese, Japanese, Nepalese, Vietnamese, Indian, Mexican and European fare.