Finding a place to eat on vacation is something I take just as seriously as my itinerary. Why would I dine at a franchise I have at home when I can do that anytime? I always try to hit up local favorites and popular places anytime I travel!
There are many great places to eat in and around Mount Rushmore. Many places close during the off-season and some establishments may keep odd hours but you will not go hungry, even during the off-season. The area has small-town coffee shops, cafes, as well as sit-down restaurants.
The best way to find great dining in the Black Hills of South Dakota (or anywhere) is to ask the locals! Since I happen to be a local, I’m going to give you a list of my favorite places to eat! To make sure I didn’t miss anything I took the liberty to ask other locals as well!
I decided the best way to present the information to was to break it up by towns near Mount Rushmore. I also listed breakfast places separately from lunch and dinner. Hopefully, this will be a nice place of reference you can refer back to at any time.
Before I Begin:
I have tried to link the different restaurants to this post but keep in mind some of these establishments are small-town places and may not have an actual website.
Another note is that you should always check these restaurants’ hours of operation. Because many places close during the off-season you will want to check before you go.
In this article, I cover establishments in Keystone, Hill City, and Custer.
Keystone is where Mount Rushmore is located. The town is tiny and basically, all of the restaurants are on the main street along with the shops and hotels. This makes it quite convenient if you are staying here!
Hill City is a short drive (or train ride) from Keystone. It is only 12 miles away, about a 20-minute drive. You’ll have gorgeous scenery the entire ride. It will take you an hour if you go by train.
Custer is a little bit farther from Keystone, taking roughly 33 minutes but the scenery is also lovely and there is plenty to do while you are there.
- Don’t miss When is the best time to visit Mount Rushmore?
- Check out How much time do you need at Mount Rushmore?
|The Front Porch||Keystone||$$|
|The Powder House||Keystone||$$|
|Grapes & Grinds||Keystone||$$|
|Holy Terror Coffee||Keystone||$|
|Black Hills Bistro||Hill City||$$|
|Hill City Café||Hill City||$$|
|Caboose Coffee Co.||Hill City||$|
|Calamity Jane Coffee Shop & Grill||Custer||$|
Keystone – Breakfast
- Peggy’s Place: They offer comfort foods like chicken fried steak and patty melts. The place looks like a hole-in-the-wall joint but it is always packed with people. They are only open seasonally.
- The Front Porch: This place is also seasonal. They serve traditional breakfast and you can literally eat on the front porch. The food is tasty and sitting outside on a warm summer day is relaxing.
- Powder House: The Powder House is one of the most popular and recommended places to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The prices will be a little bit higher than some of the above-mentioned places but the quality is too. They offer fun dishes like the Prospector, which is a 6oz sirloin steak served with eggs, toast, and potatoes. You can also get the Tatanka, which is exactly what you think it is… buffalo. You can get a single patty served with 2 eggs, toast, and potatoes.
- Grapes & Grinds: This is a cute coffee shop in the heart of town, right next to the mini golf course and wax museum. They serve café-style pastries and bagels as well as specialty coffees and wine. They have lots of fun souvenirs too!
- Holy Terror Coffee: This is my favorite coffee shop and souvenir place in Keystone. It might be because I frequented it every morning on my first trip to the Black Hills before I moved here, but it has always had a place in my heart. The staff is so incredibly sweet and helpful, most being foreign exchange students who come for the summer. A local Hill City family owns the SODAK apparel line that is available in Holy Terror Coffee Shop. Grab a T-shirt or hat, they are so cool!
Note: I struggled to find ANYTHING open in the winter months in Keystone so I’m afraid you might have to stick with Hill City or Custer for food unless you eat at Carvers Café in Mount Rushmore. Don’t worry though because aside from a few gift shops, I don’t think there is even lodging here in the winter.
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Hill City – Breakfast
- Black Hills Bistro: This is a local favorite with a relaxed vibe and dogs are allowed! They offer traditional home-cooked meals as well as bakery goods and espresso drinks.
- Hill City Café: This place caused quite a stir on Facebook when I asked for some local favorites. Some said it wasn’t good and others argued otherwise. I think I need to go check for myself. If you’ve been, please leave a comment and let us know YOUR experience!
- Caboose Coffee Co: A SUPER cute little coffee shop that is extremely reasonable, if not cheaper than most coffee shops I’ve seen in the area. They offer a fun variety of coffee drinks as well as Italian soda, pastries, and breakfast burritos. Definitely a budget-friendly place for a quick breakfast on the go.
Note: All of these places in Hill City are open year-round but as usual, don’t take my word for it and always check before heading to one of them.
Custer – Breakfast
- Our Place: Our Place is a cute and quirky place to eat with nostalgic decor! It’s open year-round and serves an American-style breakfast with affordable pricing. Kids menu too!
- HJEM A.M.: This place can be a tad bit more pricey, however, you can order adult beverages and pancakes called “The Bob” that entail lingonberries, lemon cream, and maple syrup. Menu items are a bit more adventurous. HJEM A.M. is a hit with locals and tourists alike. Make a reservation if you want to make sure you get a seat! This is one of those places that is not open every day so check on that before showing up or you may be disappointed.
- Calamity Jane Coffee Shop and Grill: Traditional coffee shop with a flare for the old west. Plenty of space to sit down and look over your Black Hills Itinerary while consuming a coffee and pastry before heading on your way. Prices are slightly cheaper than regular coffee shop chains too!
|Powder House Lodge||Keystone||$$|
|Alpine Inn||Hill City||$$|
|Chute Rooster||Hill City||$$|
|Mangiamo Pizzeria||Hill City||$$|
|Prairie Berry Winery||Hill City||$$|
|Black Hills Burger & Bun||Custer||$$|
|Buglin Bull Restaurant & Sports Bar||Custer||$$|
|Laughing Water Restaurant||Custer||$$|
|The Pounding Fathers||Custer||$$|
Keystone – Lunch/Dinner
- Carvers’ Café at Mount Rushmore: The café surprisingly has a very large, affordable menu including basics like burgers, chicken sandwiches, buffalo dishes, and pizza. Menu options for vegetarians, gluten-free, and children are also available. There is plenty of room for dining inside or out.
*Note: In my research of Carvers Café, I learned that they are committed to purchasing 70% of the food from local and/or sustainable sources. There is more on their website regarding this which I found interesting. Plus they are committed to healthier options and 40% of their beverages have no added sugar.
- Cruizzers Pizza: This is not only my favorite place to eat in Keystone but my favorite pizza place I’ve had to date in the Black Hills. This pizza is worth the hype I’m giving it but if you ask my husband, he would tell you to order one of their gigantic calzones. They have sub sandwiches and chicken wings too! Sit outside on the top deck and watch the traffic “cruise” by while you enjoy your tasty meal!
- Ruby House: I would highly recommend taking a relaxing evening off in order to sit in this 1900-style fine dining establishment. The menu is quite fancy as well as rich in flavor and price, but worth every penny. Don’t let me scare you; the prices are actually not bad, even for the filet (which is around $25). If your budget is a little stretched, they do offer amazing dishes that are more affordable like buffalo stew in a bread bowl, (yes we like our buffalo in S.D.) or Indian tacos. The menu options are HUGE and this is just a small example. Click their link and you can get a better idea!
- Powder House Lodge: Like the Ruby House, this is fine dining at its finest! The menu is more focused on steaks and game but it has other options too. Prices are higher and most items on the menu are upwards of $20. That said, the food is ridiculously delish and I’ve heard people say it has the best prime rib in the hills.
Hill City – Lunch/Dinner
- Alpine Inn: My absolute favorite place to eat in the Black Hills! There’s so much I can say about it that I wrote an entire article about the Alpine Inn. Make sure you fit this into your schedule. The Inn was built in 1865 and is still in operation. It serves the best house-made European food. My favorite is the Monte Cristo sandwich and the grilled Havarti, bacon, and apricot sandwich. Usually, my husband and I split both. Make sure to save room for dessert too! Frequently there is a line to get in but it moves fast. They take reservations for large parties. Prices are extremely reasonable but they only accept cash payments.
- Chute Rooster: The Chute Rooster is the Black Hills’ original honky-tonk restaurant and bar. Serving American country and southwestern cuisine with prices a little above average but portions to accommodate. This place is a happening joint and is open year-round 7 days a week. Not only is it a restaurant and bar but it has dancing, billiards, and gambling.
- Mangiamo Pizzeria: Delicious wood-fired pizzas and pasta with pricing a little bit higher than average for pizza, but still cheaper than buying separate entrees at most restaurants. What takes it up a notch is the great service!
- Prairie Berry Winery: A beautiful winery in the Black Hills that has won over 1000 international awards. They serve an artisan-themed lunch with above-average pricing but if you love to taste wine then this might be a good option. Enjoy a relaxing lunch surrounded by the beauty of the Black Hills and a glass of their famous Red Ass Rhubarb wine.
Custer – Lunch/Dinner
- Black Hills Burger and Bun: If you ask anyone in the Black Hills where the best burger place is they will always point you here. Made with the freshest ingredients and affordability for families, this place is definitely high up on my “don’t miss out” list. For around $8 you can try a twist of the classic B.L.T and order the B.L.F.G.T which is an amazing sandwich with hand-breaded fried green tomatoes, bacon, red tomato, lettuce, pepper jack cheese, and garlic aioli on a toasted bun. Or stick with a classic burger. Your choice, but you can’t go wrong either way.
- Begging Burro: For some authentic traditional Mexican food don’t miss the Begging Burro! Prices are comparable and portions are extremely generous. Get the chips and guac!! Lunch is considerably cheaper.
- Buglin Bull Restaurant and Sports Bar: For a little bit fancier (if you want to call it that) the Buglin Bull serves up a variety of high-quality steak, buffalo, and seafood dishes. Some signature dishes are a little on the pricier side but when else will you have a chance to try Tatanka meatloaf?
- Laughing Water Restaurant at the Crazy Horse Memorial: You have probably heard of Crazy Horse if you are familiar with the Black Hills and I suggest visiting the memorial if you have time. I’ve written a whole article about visiting the Crazy Horse Memorial to help visitors know what to expect. I recommend a stop here, especially if you want to submerge into South Dakota or more specifically, Native American culture. At the restaurant, you can grab a meal and try a Native American taco made on Indian fry bread or South Dakota’s state dessert, kuchen. I’m not a huge fan of the German pie filled with custard and fruit but don’t take my word for it. Give it a try!
- Skogen Kitchen: Three words: Fancy. Expensive. Reservations. This Norwegian restaurant, meaning “the forest”, sports an award-finalist chef and has add-ons like foie gras and caviar. I’m more of a burger gal myself but if you have a palette for exquisite foods then this place is known to be delectable and purely impressive.
- The Pounding Fathers Restaurant: For a relaxed fine-dining atmosphere that offers a great selection of entrees and serves craft beer, eat here. We ate here and had no complaints at all. With pictures of the presidents “pounding” their beer and burgers, what’s not to like?
There is certainly no shortage of ice cream, candy, or fudge in all of the Black Hills. You will pass many shops as you travel or walk the wooden planks in these rustic old towns. It’s not even uncommon to see two of them right next door to each other.
Here are a couple of my favorites!
- Turtle Town: There is a Turtle Town in both Keystone and Hill City. Ice cream, fudge, souvenirs, you name it!
- Benky’s Cream & Sugar: Benky’s is in Keystone and has some superb ice cream. It is my go-to for a double scoop of ice cream, or sometimes a sundae, when I’m in town with friends or family who are here to see Mount Rushmore. I like to show them the sweet little town and browse the shops.
- Purple Pie Place: Making the world taste better one pie at a time. That’s their motto. And if you ask the locals, they will direct, or better yet instruct, you to go grab yourself a piece of their famous rhubarb pie. I have yet to try it because I don’t like Rhubarb. Or pie. But please take their advice and when you do, we’d love to hear in the comments your thoughts on it!
I have done my best to list some of the best and most popular places to eat in the Mount Rushmore area of the Black Hills. There are of course many more places to eat. You can even spot a couple Dairy Queens in the hills, but don’t expect to find a McDonald’s! You can eat that back home anyway!
Is There Anything Else I Should Know?
Yes! Although eating is a very important part of a trip, there are so many things to see and do in the Black Hills. Other great things to do include Mount Moriah Cemetery, beautiful Spearfish Canyon, riding the 1880 train, going on beautiful gorgeous drives, and much more! Did you know they allow visitors to hike to the top of the Crazy Horse carving twice a year?
There is so much to do! The Black Hills can be confusing because it is a HUGE area.
Most travelers want to visit the most popular sites, yet still avoid crowds. We have a detailed itinerary that gives you a step-by-step game plan so you can get to all the best places at the right times!
But that’s not all! Our itinerary includes a free audio guide to listen to while driving, with over 2 hours of stories about the park!
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