The State Game Lodge Dining Room (13389 U.S. 16A, 605/255-4772, www.custerresorts.com, May–Oct. daily 7–a.m.–9 p.m., breakfast $10, lunch $10–12, dinner $20–30) is a casual place for breakfast and for lunch. Dinner has a more elegant and formal atmosphere. Breakfast offers all of the standard items, but there are a few interesting specialty items here as well, including banana-stuffed French toast and a buffalo Benedict.
Lunch features an array of soups, stew, sandwiches, and pasta. House specialties include buffalo stew, buffalo burgers, and a salmon BLT. At night, the lodge seems to gleam. The lobby’s hardwood floors shine with rich polish, the dining room tables are covered with white tablecloths, and tables are spaced well, giving each party a sense of privacy and intimacy.
The dinner menu is extensive. Highlights include local game, such as bison, pheasant, and trout, as well as a wide variety of salads and pasta. The restaurant has an extensive wine list, and wine recommendations are included with every entrée listing. There is also a full bar for cocktails.
The Legion Lake Lodge Dining Room (12967 U.S. Hwy. 16A, 605/255-4521, www.custerresorts.com, May–Oct. daily 7 a.m.–9 p.m., closed in winter, breakfast $8, lunch and dinner $8–15) is the most casual dining facility in the park. I’d have to agree with the park brochure describing this facility as a “quaint deli, bakery and burger joint.” Breakfast includes the basics, such as buffalo sausage and eggs, omelets, French toast, and pancakes. Lunch and dinner share the same menu, with burgers, sandwiches, salads, and pizza the primary fare. One of the more interesting dinner choices is trout grilled in pecan butter. Yum.
The Blue Bell Lodge Dining Room (25453 Hwy. 87, 605/255-4531, www.custerresorts.com, early May–mid-Oct. daily 7 a.m.–9 p.m., closed in winter, breakfast $7–9, lunch $8–15, dinner $14–25) is casual and keeps with the very Western theme of the Blue Bell Resort. The lodge, a dark brown and cream log cabin structure, is set back from the road, surrounded by tall pines. The inside is all Western, with chinked log walls, wooden tables, and trophy animals displayed on the walls.
The menu looks like a newspaper tabloid and food selections have Western-style titles. Appetizers become “Bits & Spurs,” entrées are described as “Big Vittles,” and sandwiches are “Bread n’ Fixins.” Any of the sandwiches can be requested to go for a box lunch in the park. Dinner features include a large number of steak dishes, pasta, and a variety of buffalo and fish entrées. There is a bar on-site where you can “Wet Your Whistle” with wine, beer, or cocktails.
The Chuck Wagon Dinner (adult $42, child under 12 $32, under 3 free) includes a hay ride out to a nearby meadow. Long lines of picnic tables await patrons, who can choose to dine on either an eight-ounce sirloin steak or a 1/3-pound hamburger with cowboy beans, cornbread and honey, potato salad, cole slaw, watermelon, cookies, coffee, and lemonade. After dinner, a sing-along country/folk band entertains throughout the evening. Participants meet at the lodge at 5 p.m., and arrive back at the lodge at 8 p.m. with a souvenir cowboy hat and bandana.
The Sylvan Lake Lodge Dining Room (24572 Hwy. 87, 605/574-2561, www.custerresorts.com, May–mid-Oct. daily 7 a.m.–9 p.m., closed in winter, breakfast $9, lunch $12, dinner $18–30) is lined with windows, and the furnishings are light wood. The best feature, though, is right outside. Perched high above the lake, views of Harney Peak are clear from every spot. Dine outside on the patio and you are in paradise. The breakfast menu is fairly limited, with just a few standard egg and pancake dishes. Lunch includes a variety of soups, salads, and sandwiches; the staff can pack you a lunch to go, so that you can enjoy an outdoor picnic in the park. Dinner specialties include elk medallions, buffalo rib eye, as well as trout, walleye, and salmon.
© Laural A. Bidwell from Moon Mount Rushmore & the Black Hills, 1st Edition