Folks PCS from around the country (and world) to Ellsworth Air Force Base. Your new station has a lot to offer, but sometimes you just miss home. For a lot of homesick people, an instant way to teleport back to a familiar place for a few moments is through flavor — tasting those dishes that are distinctly tied to your hometown or to one of your former stations. The Black Hills offer a surprisingly wide array of diverse and high-quality eateries. Restaurants around the Hills offer a taste of regional cuisine found throughout the U.S. and world. Here’s some of our favorite ways to find that perfect jambalaya or artisan cup of coffee.
Some places are just known for their barbecue. Passionately and painstakingly smoking meat becomes a part of the culture and pride of some communities. So if you’re lucky enough to have lived in a place known for its BBQ, it would be a sad proposition to not have ready access to perfectly tender, smoky brisket or juicy, meaty ribs. Fortunately for you, if you PCS to the Black Hills, you won’t need to sacrifice your access to topnotch BBQ. J.R.’s Rhodehouse BBQ Pit, located in Summerset, might just become your new favorite BBQ joint. This Texas-style BBQ starts with the best quality of meat and then is smoked with loving care until it’s absolutely perfect.
The South is known for its big flavors and comforting food. Louisiana has creole and cajun cooking, but all of the southern states have soul food. This is the kind of food that sticks to your ribs and makes a bleak day a bright one. Think fried food, gumbo, jambalaya and lots of seafood. If you’ve spent any length of time in the South, you’ve probably grown accustomed to soul food. You might think that you’ll have to give up these big flavors while you call the Black Hills home, but that’s not the case. Jambonz Deux in Rapid City is doing Creole, Cajun and other soul food right.
Art and science are the right words when it comes to sourdough. This tasty and versatile way of making bread makes the baker a part-time microbiologist. The original and most famous sourdough came out of foggy Gold Rush era San Francisco, and it remains a local favorite. If you find yourself in the Black Hills, though, you can still enjoy this tangy, hearty and unique bread. At The SOUR: A Bakery, located in Rapid City, fresh sourdough creations are baked each morning. And these bakers have imaginations — classic boules, sourdough challah, sourdough croissants and more.
Here’s another one for the carnivores out there. If you’ve PCS’d away from your favorite burger joint, don’t fret; the Black Hills are home to several fantastic burger options. If you’re searching for burger creations that are as creative as they are delicious, look no further than one of our favorites, Sickies Garage Burgers and Brews in Rapid City. One of their claims to fame is their 50 varieties of burgers and their rotating selection of 50 brews on tap. The possibilities are practically endless at Sickies.
A great California roll or an excellent spicy tuna is one of the true joys of life. When sushi is exquisitely executed, it’s hard to get it out of your mind. So if you’ve had to leave your favorite sushi place, that can indeed be a sad thing. And if you were ever stationed in Japan, finding an authentic sushi experience in the U.S. is a difficult task. But, with SUMO Japanese Kitchen in Rapid City, you might just find that authentic Japanese sushi experience that you’ve been longing for.
Artisan coffee shops
Places like Seattle and Portland are known for their dedication to coffee. If you’ve moved from a place with access to those masterfully roasted beans and perfectly brewed cups of coffee, you’ve probably grown accustomed to those delicious and nuanced cups of joe. Can you still get a cup of pour-over or a cortado in the Black Hills? Yes you can. Pure Bean Coffeehouse (with locations in Box Elder, Spearfish and Downtown Rapid City) air roasts their own beans in small batches so that the subtle flavor profiles of each variety of bean can shine. You can really taste the care that is put into each cup of coffee because the good folks at Pure Bean are intimately involved in the entire journey of their coffee — from field to cup.
In case you haven’t noticed, South Dakota is landlocked. So if you come from a place near the coast, you might end up missing what the ocean has to offer — including seafood. But don’t fear, you can still get your fresh seafood fix right here in the Black Hills. Dakota Seafood in Rapid City overnights fresh seafood, so if you’re willing to do a little cooking, you can still experience the joy of fresh oysters, mussels, fish, crab, shrimp and more right here in the heartland.
Are you missing that chewy, soft, toothsome bite you get from a freshly made bagel? Imagine that smear of cream cheese and a piping hot coffee sitting next to it. That’s the breakfast of champions. But that’s just an east coast thing, right? Wrong. Black Hills Bagels is making bagels from scratch every morning. Come check out their Mount Rushmore Road location in Rapid City or their drive-thru kiosk on Haines Avenue to see why this local establishment has been around for over 25 years.
Here’s another one for anyone who’s had the wonderful experience of being stationed in Japan — Ramen. This dish is so much more than the inexpensive, instant soup. Authentic ramen is actually the opposite of the instant stuff; it’s a dish that showcases what happens when cooks take their time and think deeply about the food they’re creating. Bokujo Ramen in Rapid City is creating authentic ramen with a local twist — they’re using local produce and meat — and the results are phenomenal.