The Baker’s Bakery (541 Mt. Rushmore Rd., 605/673-2253, www.bakersbakery.biz, summer daily 6:30 a.m.–4 p.m., winter Tues.–Sun., 6:30 a.m.–2 p.m., $5–9) in downtown Custer is a favorite for breakfast and lunch. The small but choice breakfast menu includes omelets, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, and egg dishes; the specialties of the house include homemade bread, great coffee, pastry, and caramel rolls. The restaurant is a cozy, friendly place to start the day. Breakfast is served until 11 a.m. Sandwiches and burgers, wraps, and salads comprise the lunch menu. Vegetarians will be able to find choices on both the breakfast and lunch menu, including omelets and a veggie burger.
Another great place to eat breakfast is the Cattlemen’s Steakhouse and Fish Market (140 Mt. Rushmore Rd., 605/673-4402, May–Oct. daily 7 a.m.–10 p.m., closed Nov.–Apr., breakfast $6–10, lunch $9–10, dinner $13–23). Even though it’s a very large restaurant, the wood paneled walls and booth arrangements make for cozy dining. The restaurant has an extensive menu with flavorful entrées that go beyond the standard bacon and egg dishes; the sausage, cheese, and portobello mushroom omelet is a personal favorite. Lunch entrées include salads, burgers, and barbeque sandwiches. Dinner entrées include buffalo and elk steaks, beef steaks, as well as salmon, trout, and barbecue. Favorites include the buffalo prime roast and the “Road-Kill” sandwich (made of ground steak, mushrooms, onions, and cheese).
Behind the Cattlemen’s and up the stairs, look for the Dark Horse Steak & Brew (140 Mt. Rushmore Rd, 605/673-3833, July–Aug. daily 11 a.m.–11 p.m., mid-Apr.–June and Sept.–Oct. daily 4–10 p.m., closed in winter, lunch $9–10, dinner $12–15). Locally known for its great ribs, steaks, and burgers, the Dark Horse has dark wood furnishings and a great pub-like atmosphere. There are over 100 beer selections available and for entertainment, there is a pool table, dart boards, and several televisions tuned to sports events.
The Wrangler Cafe (302 Mt. Rushmore Rd., 605/673-4271, summer Mon.–Sat. 5 a.m.–9 p.m., Sun. 6 a.m.–9 p.m., winter Mon.–Thurs. 5 a.m.–8 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 5 a.m.–8:30 p.m., Sun. 6 a.m.–2 p.m., breakfast $7, lunch $8, dinner $9) is a local favorite. Due to a fire, the restaurant was entirely rebuilt in 2008. Clean and spacious, this homey, family-oriented restaurant offers great service, generous portions, and an extensive menu of good solid American fare (breakfast items, sandwiches, soups, burgers, and steaks). The house specialty is buffalo burgers and rib eye. In the summer, there is dining available on the outdoor patio.
The Purple Pie Place (19 Mt. Rushmore Rd., 605/673-4070, www.purplepieplace.com, May 1–Oct. 15 daily 11 a.m.–10 p.m., closed in winter, lunch and dinner $8, pie slice $4.25, whole pie $14.95) serves standard American fare, including burgers and sandwiches, but as the name implies, it is a great place to get dessert. A wide variety of homemade pies are served with or without ice cream. A local favorite is the bumbleberry pie, which is made from rhubarb, apples, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Technically, the restaurant name is Reetz Old Fashion Ice Cream and Pie Shop, but don’t expect many locals to know it by that name. The exterior is painted with bright purple and white stripes, which gives the restaurant its name. Inside, the small dining area is more subtly colored, with wood paneling and Western-themed art on the walls.
The Bavarian Inn Restaurant (Hwy. 16/385, 605/673-4412, www.bavarianinnsd.com, May–Oct. daily 4:30–10 p.m., Nov.–May Sat.–Sun. 4:30–9 p.m., $11–18) is a great dinner location for German food, featuring schnitzel, sauerbraten, and brats. There are two separate dining rooms at the facility. The main dining room was renovated in 2008 and the bar and entry areas were renovated in 2009. Think fireplaces and wood furnishings accented with large outdoor scenic paintings. The German food is based on family recipes, but American options (including steaks, chicken, and seafood dishes—try the walleye) is also available. Make sure to save room for dessert. Rose Marie, the owner, makes homemade apple strudel daily. The restaurant is located just north of Custer on Highway 16/385.
The Sage Creek Grille (611 Mt. Rushmore Rd., 605/673-2424, summer Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–2 p.m. and 4:30–9 p.m., winter Tues.–Sat. 11 a.m.–2 p.m. and 4:30–9 p.m., lunch $8, dinner $19–25) is a very attractive restaurant with a light and airy feel to it. With hardwood floors, light oak tables and chairs, and walls painted in warm shades of rose accented with slate blue, the restaurant is a contemporary and casual place to dine. The high ceilings can sometimes make the room a bit noisy. There is a great wine list, and there is a small bar area where a glass of wine complemented by a cheese plate is a nice option. The restaurant features a variety of salads, soups, and sandwiches for lunch. The soup, dressings, and desserts are all homemade. The menu changes weekly and the dishes are not standard South Dakota steak and potatoes, but instead feature selections like an open-faced grilled wild salmon melt sandwich. Dinner entrées include creative chicken, fish, and steak selections.
© Laural A. Bidwell from Moon Mount Rushmore & the Black Hills, 1st Edition