The Black Hills area of western South Dakota is a nature-lover’s paradise. In addition to the Black Hills National Forest, there are numerous state and national parks, all offering hiking trails, lake activities and other outdoor fun. With all that activity, I’m sure you’re going to be looking for some great restaurants and maybe even a cold beverage. Rest assured, there are plenty of great restaurants in the Black Hills!
If it’s a cold beer you’re looking for after a long hike, you’re in luck there, too! There are several breweries, wineries and even a distillery in the Black Hills. In fact, the Black Hills and Badlands Tourism Association has an official Tasting Trail Map that you’ll find just about anywhere that carries the traditional tourist information.
No, it’s not the foodie scene that you’ll find in New York City or Chicago. And it doesn’t truly compare to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail or the Napa Valley wine region. Still, there are plenty of great places to eat and drink in the Black Hills.
While we can’t say that we’ve been to every restaurant in the Black Hills, we have visited the area several times and eaten at many different restaurants along the way. So, we’ve compiled our favorite restaurants in the Black Hills. There really is a wide variety of food and drink in this region!
*Keep in mind that the Black Hills is primarily a summer destination. If you’re visiting in late Fall, winter or early Spring, some establishments might be closed.
(Disclaimer: When we link to places you can buy our stuff or places we stayed, we are using special codes which earn us commissions on the sales at no additional cost to you. Please see our Review Policy for more information.)
With a population of about 2,000 people, Custer is actually one of the bigger cities in the Black Hills. It’s also where we tend to stay. With its proximity to Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, Mount Rushmore National Monument, it’s very central to some of our favorite places to visit. It’s also home to several tasty restaurants and a brewery.
Beggin’ Burro Mexican Bistro & Tequila Bar
Named after Custer State Park’s iconic burros, the Beggin’ Burro serves a variety of both traditional Mexican dishes and regional specialties. I chose the more traditional Chicken Enchiladas, which were covered with a tasty guajillo sauce. The sauce was just different enough to offer a unique flavor while still being a fairly traditional enchilada.
Grant opted for the Streets of Mexico platter, which the menu described as “a tour of Mexico featuring authentic street food from various regions.” The platter included a marinated pork taco, a shredded beef taco and a chicken enchilada.
Along with chips and salsa and a couple of house margaritas, this meal was more than enough food after a long day of hiking at Devils Tower National Monument. If we hadn’t been visiting in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we might have been more eager to hang out and enjoy the tequila bar – it sure looked inviting!
Baker’s Bakery & Cafe
Open only for breakfast and lunch, Baker’s Bakery serves most dishes on or with their homemade bread. They offer a wide range of traditional breakfast and lunch items, plus fresh pastries and donuts.
We went in for breakfast, where Grant enjoyed the Breakfast Burrito that the Everyday with Rachel Ray Magazine named the best breakfast in South Dakota in 2014. While the burrito itself was outstanding, the green Chile sauce is what really made the dish for Grant. You can decide if you want the sauce on the side or covering the burrito. Since Grant firmly believes a burrito should be handheld, he opted for sauce on the side.
I enjoyed the Western Omelette, which was served with traditional hash browns and homemade toast. We opted to skip the pastries for this visit but they sure looked tasty. I’m sure we’ll be back one day – I’ll have to try one on our next visit.
Buglin’ Bull Restaurant and Sports Bar
On our winter trip to the Black Hills back in 2018-2019, we met our friends (and Custer residents) from Nature Tech Family at the Buglin’ Bull for lunch. We always love having an opportunity to eat game meat, so Grant chose the Elk Burger, while I had a Bison burger. Both were tasty and cooked just right.
The Buglin’ Bull offers many traditional sandwiches, salads and entrees, along with several South Dakota specialties. They also have a good selection of local beer on tap and a few specialty cocktails.
In the summer, you’ll sometimes find the rooftop bar open. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to enjoy it on our most recent trip. If you’re looking for a comfortable restaurant with a diverse menu, the Buglin’ Bull is a good option.
If you’re interested in a casual meal or are just trying to social distance, Maria’s Mexican food truck is a great option. We both chose their most popular item, a fajita burrito. The filling included not only the traditional fajita toppings of chicken (or steak), peppers and onions, but rice and beans as well.
The burrito really was a great way to have a fajita in a nice, compact, easy-to-eat wrap. There are picnic tables behind the food truck for you to sit and enjoy your meal.
Black Hills Burger and Bun Co.
If you’re craving a burger, Black Hills Burger and Bun is THE place to go in the Black Hills. We ate here when we were in town for the 2019 Buffalo Roundup. I have to say, the Black Hills Blues burger is, hands down, the best burger I’ve ever had in my life. With blue cheese crumbles, bacon, garlic aioli and grilled onions, it was the perfect blend of flavors.
I’m not exaggerating here, y’all. It really was that good! Grant’s burger was good but not nearly as good as mine.
Black Hills Burger and Bun is open limited hours and is extremely popular, so arrive early or be prepared to wait. It’ll be worth the wait, I promise.
Mount Rushmore Brewing
If you’re looking for a good local beer, head on over to Mount Rushmore Brewing and take your pick from their extensive beer menu. Seriously, there were so many options we each had a flight of 5 beers and still only sampled a portion of the menu. We enjoyed several interesting beers, including the unique Trust Buster, a Scottish Export.
The brewery offers several appetizers, small entrees and pizza. We opted for the Buffalo Poutine, traditional poutine of French fries covered in cheese and a brown bison gravy. It was the perfect accompaniment to our flights. The attached Pounding Fathers restaurant has a bigger menu.
Custer State Park
While Custer State Park is known for its wildlife, hiking trails, granite spires and scenic views, it is also home to a couple of the best restaurants in the Black Hills. All had a limited menu during the Summer of 2020 and were a little understaffed, due to COVID-19. Still, our meals were tasty and the service was good, if a little slow.
Dockside Grill at Legion Lake Lodge
The Dockside Grill at the Legion Lake Lodge is great for a quick lunch or dinner or even just an afternoon snack. In fact, their outdoor seating by the lake is the perfect place to enjoy a beer after a morning of hiking. Or, you can enjoy the cool air conditioning inside.
We opted for the appetizers of Pretzel Cheese Curds and Spicy Fried Pickles for an afternoon snack. The pretzel coating on the cheese curds was just different enough to provide a unique texture and flavor. Grant loved that the fried pickles were spears, rather than the traditional chips.
Regardless of what you order, the Dockside Grill is a great place for a casual meal.
Blue Bell Lodge
The dining room at the Blue Bell Lodge is known for its Western decor and menu. Grant chose the Buffalo Chili and I opted for the Black Hills Buffalo Stew. Both were tasty and delicious and perfect for the cold, rainy day! We also both really enjoyed the cornbread that was served on the side.
You’ll also find traditional burgers, salads and a few basic entrees on the menu. And, you can wash it all down with a beverage from the full bar.
State Game Lodge
As the most formal of the dining options, we saved the State Game Lodge for a nice dinner, as a late birthday celebration for both of us. Even with the limited menu, we were pleasantly surprised to find a few non-traditional offerings.
We started with the Rabbit & Rattlesnake Sausage. I’ll have to admit that I was a little nervous about this dish, but knew that it was unique and worth a taste. The sausage definitely was not as gamey as I expected it to be. In fact, if you didn’t know that it wasn’t a traditional sausage you might not think anything of it. There was just a slightly different taste to it, though, which we both enjoyed.
For entrees, Grant had the Elk Osso Bucco and I opted for the Bison Sirloin. Both were well-prepared and had a fabulous flavor. We finished the evening with a homemade Key Lime Pie. I’m not sure it was the best Key Lime Pie we’ve ever had, but it was certainly an authentic taste. And, when you’re more than 2,000 miles from Key West, I’ll mark that as successful!
Bottom line, the State Game Lodge is one of the best restaurants in the Black Hills for a nice dinner.
We didn’t spend much time in Keystone, so only ate at one restaurant. There are a variety of options, though, if you’re spending more time there.
For lunch after visiting Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the National Presidential Wax Museum, we stopped at Palomino’s for lunch. Located on the south end of the main drag of town, Palomino’s offers sandwiches, soups and pasties, which are traditionally found in Michigan. They also have a good variety of beer, both on draft and in the bottle.
Grant chose the French Dip and I opted for the Philly Cheesesteak. Our sandwiches were good, though a little under-filled with meat and veggies. Still, it was nice to sit outside and enjoy lunch away from the hustle and bustle of the main shopping area.
Known as the “Heart of the Black Hills,” Hill City is a cute little town that offers a lot more than you might expect at first glance. What we liked most about it, is that it is home to several breweries and wineries.
If you want a good steak at a great price, head on over to the Alpine Inn in Downtown Hill City. The Alpine Inn offers a German menu with limited offerings at dinner. That’s right, there are only two things on the dinner menu at the Alpine Inn: steak or a vegetarian dish. Both are served with a wedge salad and Texas Toast.
For the steak, you can get a 6 oz or 9 oz Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon, which also comes with a baked potato. The vegetarian dish is Kaes Spaetzle Primavera (German dumplings and Swiss cheese, with steamed vegetables). Don’t worry about the price of the Filet Mignon, though. The larger size is still only $13.95. The smaller steak and the primavera are $11.95 (as of July 2020).
You can easily see why we vote the Alpine Inn as one of the best restaurants in the Black Hills for a steak dinner.
You’ll also find a decent beer and wine list, along with a fairly extensive dessert menu. Unfortunately, we were stuffed after our meal and skipped dessert. As you might imagine, this is a fairly popular restaurant and they do not take reservations, though you can call ahead for groups of 8 or more.
We got there right at 5:00, when dinner service starts, and were seated within about 10-15 minutes. It is a fairly large dining room and with a limited menu, service moves fairly quickly.
Alpine Inn offers more options for lunch, some of which look really good. I certainly think we’ll be stopping in for lunch on our next visit!
ProTip: The Alpine Inn does not accept credit cards. Thankfully, you won’t need too much cash, thanks to their very reasonable prices. There is an ATM on site if you need it.
Smoke Jumper Station
Smoke Jumper Station is the Hill City tasting room for Firehouse Brewing and Firehouse Wine Cellars, which are based in Rapid City. If you’re like Grant and I, where one of you prefers beer and the other prefers wine, this is a great place for some afternoon or evening drinking. Heck, we won’t even judge if you stop in before noon!
As always, we opted for a couple of flights – wine for me and beer for Grant. For now, I’ll focus on the wine (see the Rapid City section for more on the beer). A wine flight included tastes of 6 different wines for only $5. And, as has happened at several wineries, the server added in one more sample just because. I certainly can’t complain about the price or what we got for it!
Of the white wine, the Prairie Flower was my favorite. It’s a bit sweeter than I generally like but also unique and easy to sip on a warm afternoon. I generally prefer red wine, though, and Firehouse offers several that are nice. I especially enjoyed The American, made from South Dakota Marquette grapes. We came home with a bottle of Tradition (Year Three), which is their port wine, also made with Marquette grapes from South Dakota.
While all of the Firehouse wines are produced in South Dakota, many of the grapes are actually grown in Washington or Oregon. For me, that makes the wine not quite local, which is one reason we bought a bottle made with South Dakota-grown grapes.
Regardless of where the grapes are grown, the wine was nice and our experience at the tasting room was fabulous. The Fruit & Cheese plate was a perfect accompaniment to the wine tasting. Grant loved that he could enjoy some more beer by Firehouse Brewing.
Naked Winery & Sick-N-Twisted Brewery
Naked Winery and Sick-N-Twisted Brewery is another two-for-one stop for both wine and beer lovers. We enjoyed not just the beer and wine here but the atmosphere as well. I’ll be honest, though, the playful names might have had a little something to do with that.
The winery offers white, red and sweet wines. As usual, we preferred the reds but did find a few white wines that were nice and crisp. One interesting line of wines that Naked Winery offers is the Outdoor Vino collection. These are packaged in plastic bottles, allowing for easy transport for camping, going to the lake or any other outdoor activities.
Again, we found several interesting wines. We came home with a bottle of Climax, a red blend of Zinfandel, Syrah and Tempranillo. I have to admit, this was one of the most complex and interesting wines we’ve tasted in a long time.
In terms of beer, Grant enjoyed the Aces and Eights, an Amber, and the Naughty Red Head, an Imperial Red Ale. Again, the wine and beer names are just some of what make a visit to Naked Winery and Sick-N-Twisted Brewery fun!
Like Firehouse Cellars, most (maybe all) of the grapes for the winery are grown in Oregon or Washington. While we prefer to find a winery with local-grown grapes, we really just enjoy a good glass of wine. We certainly found that here.
Prairie Berry Winery
If it’s truly local wine you’re looking for, Prairie Berry Winery is where you want to go. Yes, they get some grapes, such as Chardonnay and Zinfandel, from other regions since those really don’t grow well in South Dakota. Many of their grapes and wild berries do come from South Dakota, though.
Prairie Berry is best known for the Red Ass Rhubarb and you’ll likely see billboards and ads for it throughout the Black Hills. As you might expect from the name, this is a rather sweet wine made with rhubarb. While it was created as an accident (you can hear that story at the winery), the Red Ass Rhubarb is now the most famous and most award-winning wine made in South Dakota!
We preferred its companion, Rosy Ass Rhubarb, which was not quite as sweet. For us, that was the “problem” with most of the Prairie Berry wines – they were just too sweet for our palate. If you like sweet wines, though, you’ll find some great ones at Prairie Berry.
The Hill City location has a large tasting room, where you can sample 5 wines absolutely free! Yes, you can pay a little more for additional samples. The pressing, fermentation and aging all happens right there at that facility.
After several years of winemaking, the folks at Prairie Berry decided to open up a companion brewery: Miner Brewing. While the tasting rooms are separate, they are right next to each other and easy to visit together or separate, depending on your schedule.
During the summer of COVID-19, Miner Brewing was not offering traditional flights. Still, we were able to get small glasses of a few different beers to sample. Grant enjoyed the Kellerbier, which was easy to drink and tasty. He also had the Mango Cream Ale at a restaurant, which he really liked. I’ll admit, I wasn’t really a fan of it but I also don’t really like mango or cream ales.
I started with the Watermelon Wheat, which was light, refreshing with just a hint of watermelon. While I have gotten to where I like beer more than I used to, I am still very picky about it. Fruit beers can always be a bit of a gamble; this one was not overly sweet with a noticeable, but not overwhelming, flavor. For my second drink, I went with the Honeydew Hard Seltzer. Again, I really liked that it was not too sweet and was a bit of a non-traditional seltzer flavor.
If you’re looking for food, Miner Brewing offers a small menu. We really enjoyed the Mexican Pizza, a think crust focaccia with chorizo, black beans, roasted corn, onion, green chilies and cheese. The Pretzel Bites, with beer cheese dip were quite tasty as well – we only wish they hadn’t been out of the jalapeño pretzel bites.
Located in the northern Black Hills, Spearfish is home to the scenic Spearfish Canyon and a cute, vibrant downtown. We haven’t spent much time in Spearfish but would love to come back for a longer visit in the future!
We stopped in at Spearfish Brewing after a few short hikes in Spearfish Canyon. With a wide range of beer from traditional Pale Ales to Sours, you’ll likely find at least a couple of beers to enjoy at Spearfish Brewing.
Not wanting to overdo our drinking before driving back to Custer, we opted to split a 6-beer flight. Our favorites were the Haizon, a dry-hopped Hazy Saison, and the Liquid Sunshine, a classic German Kolsch.
Our visit was a fairly quick one, but we really enjoyed the atmosphere of the brewery and of the town. We certainly are looking forward to visiting both again the next time we’re in the Black Hills.
Sturgis is another town that we haven’t actually spent much time in. Honesty, though, if you’re not a biker, it’s probably not the town for you. While we don’t have anything again motorcycles, the biker scene really isn’t our thing. So, we stopped by for some food and drinks but that’s about all we’ve ever done in Sturgis.
Belle Joli’ Winery
In terms of a winery, Belle Joli’ is quite nice. You’ll find two locations in the Black Hills: The Sparkling House, just off the interstate in Sturgis, is the bigger of the two and overlooks a 5-acre vineyard. There is also a small tasting room in Deadwood, which might be a little more convenient.
We headed over to the Sparkling House for a quick tasting early one afternoon. We each had a 4-wine tasting and then enjoyed a couple of glasses out on the patio.
I really liked the Demi-Sec Rose, a sparkling wine that was just a tad sweet. While a little sweeter than I generally prefer, it was still a nice wine that was perfect on a warm afternoon. Of course, we also tasted their South Dakota-grown Marquette, which was quite nice.
If you really want to sit and enjoy a glass of wine, I certainly recommend heading over to the Sparkling House in Sturgis. The site in Deadwood was much smaller and its downtown location is not nearly as scenic.
After our wine tasting, we were ready for some food, so headed over to the Knuckle Saloon for lunch. I’ll start with this: the Knuckle Saloon is everything you would expect from a saloon in a town that is best known for the largest motorcycle rally in the country. Basically, don’t expect polish.
We both opted for burgers, with Grant choosing their signature Murtha Burger. Topped with jalapeño jelly, cream cheese and fried onion tanglers, Grant really enjoyed this unique burger. I went for a traditional bacon cheeseburger, which was quite tasty as well.
Unfortunately, the associated brewery was closed, but Grant was able to get a pint of their White Knuckle Pale Ale. I opted for one of their mixed drink specials.
If you’re looking for a burger and a beer in a relaxed atmosphere, Knuckle Saloon is a good option. Just don’t expect anything fancy.
As the biggest city in the Black Hills, you’ll find a wide range of places to eat and drink in Rapid City. In addition to the usual fast food and fast casual options, you’ll find several local restaurants and breweries.
We visited Firehouse Brewing, South Dakota’s oldest brewery, on our very first trip to the Black Hills back in 2012. We enjoyed it so much, we made a point to return when we visited in the winter of 2018-19. At Firehouse Brewing, you’ll find a wide range of rotating brews, along with a fairly extensive food menu.
During our most-recent tasting of Firehouse Brews at Smoke Jumper Station in Hill City, Grant particularly enjoyed the Semper Fi and Ale Riders Reverly Red, both Red Ales. Of course, their menu changes frequently and may have a wider selection in Rapid City.
Hay Camp Brewing
If you’re looking for more local beer, check out Hay Camp Brewing, located just a few blocks off the main street in downtown Rapid City. I’ll be honest, the beer here was good but nothing exceptional. We eat got a flight and found very drinkable beers; just nothing that stood out above the others. There is no kitchen but you’ll sometimes find a food truck nearby.
I do have to say, the bar and tavern space here is really nice. We enjoyed the raw wood and western flair. The way the space is set up seems nice for both big and small groups.
Black Hills Contraband Distillery
Right down the street to Hay Camp Brewing, you’ll find the Black Hills Contraband Distillery. What’s interesting about this distillery is that their flavored bourbons are actually considered liqueurs. So, if you’re looking for an inexpensive mixer, Black Hills Contraband is a good option.
Additionally, there are 14 flavors. Some are more traditional, like the Cinnamon, which is similar to Fireball or Jack Fire. Others are more unique, like Watermelon and Coffee. At the bar, you can sample the various flavors or try out a mixed drink.
While not a traditional bourbon or whiskey, you will find some interesting and unique flavors at Black Hill Contraband.
Sickie’s Garage Burgers and Brews
If you’re looking for a unique burger, head on over to Sickie’s. It’s a small chain with a few locations the midwest that was recommended to us during our winter trip. I have to say, there were burger options that I never would have dreamed of.
I opted for a fairly traditional burger topped with beer cheese and bacon bits. Grant enjoyed the Nodak burger, topped with fried jalapeños and BBQ sauce. Neither of us were adventurous enough for the burger that uses glazed donuts for the buns!
As the name would suggest, you’ll also find a good selection of beer at Sickie’s. We found this to be a great sports bar, where you can certainly enjoy an afternoon of food, drinks and fun with friends or family.
For a nice dinner in Rapid City, we recommend Kol, which offers menu items cooked in their coal-fired oven. The specialty cocktails are quite nice, as well.
We chose Kol for an early New Year’s Eve dinner back in 2018 and had a wonderful experience. An appetizer of meatballs was followed by entrees of four-cheese Mac & cheese with cajun smoked chicken and pork belly with cornbread pudding and bacon braised greens. The smokiness from the coal fire oven was just divine and really added a nice flavor to all the dishes.
For dessert, we had table side Smore’s, where we roasted our own marshmallows right there at the table. What a fun way to end the night!
And, I can’t ignore the cocktails, that were not only delicious but attractive as well! Seriously, how could you not love a cocktail served in a honey bear-shaped glass?
This still stands as one of the most unique and interesting meals we’ve had in quite a while.
Final Thoughts on Restaurants in the Black Hills
As you can see, there are several great restaurants in the Black Hills and plenty of places to eat and drink! Whether you are looking for a casual, inexpensive meal or want to splurge on a nice meal, you’ll find it in the Black Hills. And, if it’s day drinking that you’re interested in, well… you’ve got a good pick of breweries and wineries!
On each visit here, we find new establishments to enjoy. Seriously, it’s always a toss up between returning to an old favorite or checking out something new and interesting. Even after a three-week visit, we left feeling that we missed out on several restaurants and breweries that we wanted to try.
Alas, at least we know we have something new for our next visit!