While South Dakota is well-known for growing crops, raising animals, and serving hearty meat and potato meals, rest assured there’s more on the menu than chislic, steaks, and burgers! Vegetarian dishes are hidden gems at many local restaurants and it's time to give them the spotlight. These are only a few of the mouthwatering meals you’ll want to taste on your next trip to Rapid City.
Feeling something sweet to start your day?
You’ll love the Berries and Cream Waffles at Harriet & Oak – a local coffee shop opening their doors at 7:00am and serving breakfast until close. These warm, fluffy waffles are lightly toasted and served with a generous handful of blueberries and strawberries, syrup, a dollop of whip cream and sprinkled with cinnamon. Bring a travel companion, so you can mix and match with the Classic Acai Bowl and grab a tasty pastry or homemade pop tart to go. (Some refer to these extras as “snacks” – I consider them temporary food souvenirs.)
Prefer savory brunch options?
Stop into Tally’s Silver Spoon, a staple breakfast spot for many locals, for the Vegetable Breakfast featuring garden greens, sauteed veggies, herbs, egg, and toast. My favorite way to eat it: Swap the sunny egg for poached and enjoy with a fresh glass of orange juice.
Looking for our area’s best kept secrets?
I suggest spending your morning at Fork Real Café. The mission of this pay-what-you-can, non-profit café is to build community through food and conversation. Using a “farm to table” model, they serve locally grown produce and even provide space for a food pantry. Dig into Breakfast Charcuterie for Two (minus the meat), which serves up a pancake stack, seasonal fruit, hard boiled eggs, croissants, and jam. Or try a half order of Rolled Crepes featuring flavors like citrusy lemon and blueberries, or Nutella and strawberries.
Do you have a taste for adventure?
If your first instinct when arriving to a restaurant is to ask, “What’s good here?” and you trust the chef to tell you what to order, then Bokujo Ramen is my best lunch recommendation. For starters, savor the unique flavors of the Oko Bun – loaded with your choice of pork belly or shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, Kewpie mayo, and stuffed in the perfect bao bun. Make it a full meal with a veggie-lovers Mushroom Mazemen bowl brimming with Black Hills mushrooms, quark, a soy sauce egg, savory Furikake seasoning and scallions.
Want to add tofu to your food tour?
Let me recommend Pacific Rim Café for lunch. This Asian fusion eatery features Vietnamese dishes and offers a variety of vegetable only options including stir fry, soups, rice dishes, and my personal favorite – fresh Tofu Spring Rolls. Tightly rolled in rice paper, enjoy four beautifully presented pieces stuffed with baked tofu, rice noodles, crisp lettuce, and cilantro. Homemade peanut sauce is served on the side with chopped peanuts dusted on top – and I love the extra crunch it gives to each bite.
Are you a believer in love at first bite?
Step inside Kathmandu Bistro to a welcoming aroma of bold spices and herbs from Indian and Nepalese cooking traditions. The first time I ordered Bhindi Masala it was a new culinary experience, and every time after it’s been a delightful dining ritual. “Bhindi” is the Hindi word for okra, which is a green fruit that grows in a tube-like shape. This vegan dish combines tender okra, tangy tomato, sauteed onions and green peppers cooked in lemon juice and fresh cilantro. I call this my craving cure and love that it’s also available for dinner!
Ready for the best surprise I could find at a steakhouse?
When perusing the menu at Downtown Rapid City’s Delmonico Grill, I was stunned to find more than one vegetarian option. Let me explain why the Falafel Salad exceeds my expectations. Rich and creamy Tzatziki sauce covers the salad plate, and then the layers begin: a fresh bed of baby kale, oil-cured black olives, diced cucumber and tomatoes, pickled red onions, and feta – all drizzled with a delicious black olive vinaigrette. I love the reactions when I recommend a South Dakota steakhouse for vegetarian meals, but it’s my favorite Middle Eastern cuisine.
Hunting for homegrown produce?
Make a reservation for an intimate dinner off-the-beaten path at Juniper. The featured ingredient in their Local Mushroom Ragu is Black Hills Lions Mane served with grey and pink oyster mushrooms, baby portabellas, sweet bell peppers, zucchini, and yellow squash over creamy polenta. To finish, this artistically arranged dish is dusted with Manchego cheese. In addition to year-round staples like this popular ragu, you can taste shareable plates inspired by what’s growing each season.
What could possibly wrap up a vegetarian bucket list this delicious?
Imagine a made-from-scratch 100% all-vegetable patty blending farro, red and black quinoa, tofu, garlic, panko breadcrumbs, and a mix of herbs and seasonings. I must admit I haven’t had the pleasure of dining at Colonial House Restaurant & Bar for dinner (yet!), but I’ve heard great things about the Veggie Burger, and plan to try it for myself soon. Grilled and served with Swiss cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and a side of guacamole – yes, excuse me, I’m ready to place my order.
Find something sweet to end a fulfilling day of dining experiences. As an adventurous eater myself, I enjoy sampling the seasonal menu items at Rapid City’s up-and-coming eateries and shopping local at the Black Hills Farmers Market.
My love of food is tied to travel and experiencing new places one plate at a time. If you share a similar passion, I encourage you to sign up for our monthly e-newsletter, so you stay in the know about Rapid’s rising food scene and food-focused events.