Desperados Cowboy Restaurant (301 Main St., 605/574-2959, May 1–Labor Day daily 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 4:30–9 p.m., closed in off-season, $8–19) is one of the newer restaurants in Hill City  and gets rave reviews for both its food and service. Bring cash with you as they don’t accept credit cards or out-of-state checks. Don’t let the rustic appearance of the outside of the building fool you. Inside the restaurant, the chinked log walls and cowboy decor makes for a cozy dining experience. Located in the oldest commercial building in town, a log cabin built in 1885, the Western-themed restaurant features walleye, ribs, buffalo burgers, sweet potato fries, and veggie wraps. A children’s menu is available.
There are not many places open for breakfast in town, but check out the Slate Creek Grill (158 Museum Dr., 605/574-9422, summer daily 7 a.m.–9 p.m., winter Sun.–Thurs. 7 a.m.–8 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 7 a.m.–9 p.m., $8–10). Located at the north edge of the downtown shopping district, the Grill is not a fancy place—access to the restaurant is through the bar and pool room. There is a great deck outside, however, with a pretty view of town. Lunch and dinner feature traditional American fare from burgers to steak.
The Bumpin Buffalo Bar & Grill (245 Main St., 605/574-4100, www.bumpinbuffalollc.com , mid-Mar.–Oct. daily 11 a.m.–9 or 10 p.m., closed for winter, lunch $8, dinner $15) is a good family choice. There’s a full menu of basic American fare, including steaks, pasta, chicken, and fish. Many of the tables are furnished with television sets that keep the kids from getting bored and allow for a leisurely meal for the adults, or alternatively, keep the adults up on the latest sports news. The decor is an interesting mix of beer signs and trains, including a train model that circles the room. With high tin ceilings, it can get a bit noisy, but overall this is a great place for a beer and a sandwich.
The Hill City Cafe (209 Main St., 605/574-4582, summer daily 6 a.m.—9 p.m., winter daily 6 a.m.–2 p.m., $7–10) is the place most likely to be filled with locals. It has a bit of a dusty diner feel, but it’s a friendly kind of place located right in the middle of the downtown boardwalk shopping district. Breakfast offerings are especially hearty, featuring more than a couple of steak and egg combos. Lunch features a wide variety of burgers and other sandwiches and dinner options include grilled chicken, steak, and pork chops.
Alpine Inn (225 Main St., 605/574-2749, www.alpineinnhillcity.com , summer Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 5–10 p.m., closed Sun., winter Mon.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 5–9 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 5–9:30 p.m., closed Sun., $9–11) is always a great place to eat—and if you enjoy outdoor dining and people-watching, it’s the best spot in town for lunch. The lunch menu is also more extensive than the dinner menu. A large variety of contemporary European sandwiches and German sausages and salads are offered, complemented by a wide assortment of desserts. In the evening, dinner is perfect for folks who have a hard time making decisions, since the only entrée on the menu is filet mignon: You can have a six-ounce filet mignon or a nine-ounce filet mignon. On the other hand, there are still over 30 desserts to choose from. The inn was built in the late 1880s as the Harney Peak Hotel. The restaurant is located on the lower floor of the building and is richly decorated in the Victorian style of the era in which it was built. Inside, dining tables are scattered throughout in several small and cozy rooms. Have lunch at the Alpine at least once during your time in the hills.
The Prairie Berry Kitchen (23837 U.S. 385, 605/574-3898, year-round Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Sun. noon–4:30 p.m., $8–10) is located at the Prairie Berry Winery  just three miles north of Hill City  on Highway 385. It’s a wonderful choice for lunch for those looking for a healthy alternative. European in nature, appetizers, soups, and panini sandwiches are created daily to complement the wines. Everything is homemade and delicious. The summer specialty is a Czech potato salad. There are several tables set up on the winery’s patio for summer dining. Prairie Berry wine is available with the meals. In winter, the homemade soups fly out of the kitchen.
The Black Forest Inn (23191 U.S. 385, Rapid City, 605/574-2000 or 800/888-1607, www.blackforestinn.net , open year-round, by reservation only) is located about eight miles north of Hill City off of U.S. 385. This well-respected dining establishment features two restaurants. From June through early September (weather permitting), dinner is served outdoors in front of the inn at the Bistro on the Terrace. Dinner is served daily 4–8 p.m. and entrées run about $15. House specialties include light Mediterranean cuisine, as well as rib-eye steaks, fish, and chicken dishes. In the winter, dining moves inside the inn. There’s only one dinner seating and the time is set based on the first reservation made. So, if you are the first to make a reservation and would like to dine at 7 p.m., that’s when dinner is scheduled. Dinner entrées average $20 and choices typically include rack of lamb, rib-eye steak, duck, and various chicken and pasta dishes. The dining area is small and cozy with a fireplace, candlelit tables, and lots of lace. It’s a very romantic setting.