Sioux Falls:  Scenic Beauty and Culinary Surprises

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Sioux Falls, South Dakota, “the Heart of America,” is centrally located close to most major mid-western cities. With its stunning waterfalls in Falls Park, a vibrant art scene and a walking/bike path that follows the Big Sioux River, this rapidly growing city has received many awards and accolades for its high quality of living. But it’s the city’s burgeoning culinary scene that is attracting attention among food aficionados and creating a buzz among the locals.

With more than 650 restaurants, Sioux Falls has many of the chains you would find in most cities. But it’s the independent entrepreneurs in and around the downtown area that are carving out their own culinary niche in this burgeoning flavortown.

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A Touch of Paris in the Midwest

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You don’t have to travel all the way to France to enjoy some of its best offerings. Here are a few eateries saying, “Oui, nous l’avons” (yes, we have it).

Walking into CH Patisserie might have you imagining you popped into a little pastry shop on the streets of Paris. Delectable eclairs, tarts, and neon-colored macaroons beckon from behind the glass.

All this is the work of Chris Hemmer, a Top Chef Just Desserts season two winner, who has set up his pastry shop on Phillips Avenue in the heart of downtown. His European-inspired confections are becoming an indulgent habit for many in Sioux Falls. Be sure to try his Chocolate Dream; a little shiny dome of decadent chocolate deliciousness.

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At MB Hasketts, CIA-trained chef Michael Haskett creates his own version of French-inspired cuisine. After a remodel in 2014, his small space is always packed with hungry patrons looking for a taste of something different, such as his savory crepes (you can watch them being made just as you could on the streets of Paris), quiche, and daily specials. During my visit, I devoured the Red Flannel Hash with beets, potatoes, salmon, fennel, and poached eggs.

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If you have ever tried a baguette in France, you know that finding that sort of similar quality here in the U.S. can be a challenge. Fortunately, Breadico Di Napolitano is as far as you will have to go in Sioux Falls. Owner David Napolitano uses his 29-year-old sourdough starter and old-world methods to create deliciously crunchy-on-the-outside and moist-on-the-inside loaves of bread that will make you think you are on the Left Bank. They are so good, in fact, that they are carried by many of the restaurants in town.

Ethnic Eateries in Suburbia

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When Sanaa Abourezk wanted to open an affordable, gourmet Mediterranean restaurant in the meat-and-potatoes country, all of her friends thought she was “out of her mind.” Undaunted, she founded Sanaa in a nondescript little strip mall near the railroad tracks. Unique and exotic flavors, it seems, is just what many here were craving and today her loyal customers rave about her fare. Her Pomegranate Fatayer (think Mediterranean calzone) is made with ground beef, pomegranate molasses, and chili sauce and is a local favorite.

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It might seem strange to find a restaurant specializing in enchiladas but not here. At Mama Lada’s Enchiladas Shop & Wine Bar you can enjoy cheesy home-made beef or chicken enchiladas with some killer salsa. They also serve some truly refreshing red or white sangrias, premium wines, and a variety of beers to wash down all that Mexican goodness.

Regional and American-Inspired

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For 31 years, Rosie’s Cafe has been a Sioux Falls institution. With only 49 seats (including the counter) this is where you would go for down-home cooking and friendly, local conversation. In addition to affordable breakfast dishes, lunches here such as meatloaf, turkey and stuffing, and liver and onions, are only $5.50. A slice of homemade banana cream pie will set you back a minuscule $2.00.

Minerva’s Restaurant in downtown starts getting packed from the minute it opens its doors. A popular place for the lunch crowd, the menu offers eclectic American fare in a warm, inviting atmosphere. Here you can find everything from aged steaks to seafood to pasta. They also have a mega-salad bar that includes cheeses, soup, fresh fruit, and salmon.

Cafe Britt

Fresh fish in the Midwest? Indeed, Parker’s Bistro flies in fresh seafood twice a week and strives to use local, organic ingredients in its offerings. In addition to seafood, Parker’s also has a nice choice of steak and poultry options.

Chef from Bros.

Adorned with local artwork, Bros. Brasserie Americano has a Creole influence. Try their Andouille and chicken gumbo, or New Orleans strip steak with pepper cream gravy, mashers and vegetables du jour. Another entrée in demand is their pork belly with creole aux choux, sweet potato gnocchi, and Dr. Pepper demi-glaze.

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K Restaurant in the East Bank neighborhood offers patrons a contemporary American dining experience. Long-time Sioux Falls resident Tina Kuehn chose a quieter place, away from the busy downtown section to offer what she calls a “gourmet bistro feel” in an intimate small space. Most of her business has come from word of mouth and everything is made from scratch. One of her signature dishes is the 12oz beef sirloin steak, grilled, with a gorgonzola hazelnut sauce; served with roasted fingerling potatoes & sautéed asparagus. “You could eat your shoes with that sauce,” laughs Tina. Another favorite is her super creamy and rich crème brûlée made from an old and closely guarded secret recipe she obtained from a chef in San Francisco.

Sweetness you can eat and drink

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With several locations in Sioux Falls, B&G Milky Way is the sort of simple drive-in your parents and grandparents would have loved. The plain lines of the red-and-white building underscores its ice cream simplicity. They make their own strawberry soft-serve and have put smiles on faces since 1954.

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Speaking of smiles, the motto at Oh My Cupcakes! is “To Shine God’s Love and Make People Smile with Cupcakes.” Having started with a mere $67, owner Melissa Johnson opened the first gourmet cupcake shop in Sioux Falls. She has been featured in “Top 100 Cupcake Shops in America” and makes everything from scratch. They have many unusual flavor combinations such as stuffed French toast, lemon drop, and root beer float made with the real thing.

Constructed out of straw bales, the Strawbale Winery is owned by Don and Susie South who used their various talents to start their own vineyard and offer fruit wines to the public. Their tasting room is made from recycled materials and they offer tasty grape, fruit, and specialty wines. While you are there, ask to see their incredible jumping chicken.

[bctt tweet=”Residents of this town think it is more than a catchy slogan but rather, a way of life.”]

Of course, there is more to Sioux Falls than just great food. Other diversions include the Washington Pavilion with a kids’ museum, visual arts center, and the Husby Performing Arts Center featuring major artists and performers.

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At the Sertoma Butterfly House and Marine Cover you can find large tanks with blue and yellow tropical fish, stingrays, and a tidal pool. Step into the adjoining section to relax on a bench and you will be surrounded by wings of color as 800 butterflies from all over the world flutter about and land on the lush foliage.

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There is also the unexpected, like the full-size replica of Michelangelo’s statue of David in a public park. Sculptures dot the landscape in downtown, created by local artisans whose work is the subject of plenty of photo ops and “selfies.”

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So what can you expect when visiting Sioux Falls? In addition to the exceptional and diverse cuisine, many attractions and local scenery, you can expect friendly people who seem to go out of their way to say, “hello” and make you feel welcome. This is, after all, the Heart of America and the residents of this town think it is more than a catchy slogan but rather, a way of life.

 

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