One of the things I love best about living in the Black Hills of South Dakota is all of the small towns — and all the surprisingly good places to eat! But my all-time favorite city for eating out is Custer. Custer restaurants do not disappoint! In fact, Custer restaurants can go head-to-head with restaurants in Southern California, Denver, and Chicago.
Don’t believe me? I think you owe it to yourself to find out!
Ask anyone the three best restaurants in the Black Hills, and Skogen Kitchen will be on everyone’s list. And whether or not they’ve been there, they’ll be equally as enthusiastic. After all, Skogen Kitchen has built a reputation for fresh, quality ingredients (fresh Truffles from Burgundy, anyone?). They’re also all about innovative recipes (butter cake with popcorn ice cream is the stuff foodie dreams are made of!). And chef-driven recipes (that you won’t find anywhere else in the Black Hills).
Owners Joseph and Eliza Raney make an incredible team. Eliza is the General Manager and will often greet you at the door when you walk in. Joseph, chef extraordinaire, will come out to your table to shave those fresh Burgundy truffles right onto your petite filet!
We’ve been there twice now and are considering just setting up a standing monthly reservation. Because, I admit it, we just can’t get enough of this kind of cooking. Cooking that — let’s face it — I just can’t do at home.
If you know me at all, you know I’ll eat brunch all day every day. That’s why new brunch spots are always on my radar. And the newest Custer restaurant, Hjem A.M., does not disappoint!
We first heard of Hjem from the bulletin board at Buffalo Ridge Camp Resort. (Highly recommend the treehouse and super cute wedge cabins. But they also have teepees and glamping tents!)
Any take on Avocado toast always intrigues me, and Hjem’s version does not disappoint. And what in the world is Japanese French toast?? Trust me — it’s divine. Thick brioche bread topped with fresh butter and Miso ice cream — the perfect sweetness so you won’t even need syrup! Yum.
The first day we were fortunate enough to walk in and get a seat on the patio. We dined alongside a magazine taking food photos for an upcoming feature. (I’ll link to the article when it comes out.) It was so good we decided to get reservations and visit again another day! Plus I just had to return for their perfectly foamed lattes!
I am happy to report that the quiche is the best I’ve ever tasted! It was thick and moist, unlike any quiche I’ve ever tasted before. It’s also filled with mushrooms (and bacon — that’s a win in my book!), and topped with fresh snap pea pods.
Owners Cami and Mark make a great team. In fact, Cami was sweet enough to share the story of how she made her way to Custer. And how the two of them met! (With my wedding photography past, you know I could have listened to their story all day!)
They opened their homey and unique breakfast restaurant this past spring (with a little help from their family at Skogen). And their first season has been amazing!
By the way, “hjem” means “home” in Danish. And, like Skogen, the focus is on fresh, seasonal flavors, a welcoming atmosphere, and Scandinavian / American recipes.
Okay, if you know me at all, I’ve been Mom to “Burger Boy” for almost 21 years. Which means our family is constantly on a quest for the next best burger. You’ll be happy to hear that we found our new favorite burger in — you guessed it — Custer, South Dakota.
For months, we had been reading reviews of Black Hills Burger and Bun. But every time we tried to go, we were intimidated by the wait.
This time, though, after hearing that they were voted “Best Burger in the Nation” on TripAdvisor, we bravely added our name to the waitlist. Ninety minutes later, we finally got in to this tiny burger joint.
And yes, it was 100% worth the wait!
All burgers are ground in house daily, on in-house baked and toasted buns! (Yes, homemade buns really do make all the difference!) The burger are cooked to perfection, juicy, tasty, and so, so fresh! We also had the coleslaw, which was some of the best we’ve ever had. (And I am pretty sure their pickles are made in-house too. Is there anything they don’t make on site?)
In case you’re wondering, they also have a great beer selection on tap (what’s a burger without a beer?). And (though we didn’t partake) we noticed a few fun shakes and malts on the menu.
Now on to the part you’re waiting for: Best place to get dessert in Custer.
I almost considered making this one a tie, because there are just so many good desserts in Custer. But I’ll share the best dessert in Custer first (then give you a few runners up in case you want to decide for yourself).
My husband and I both agreed that the carrot cake at Sage Creek Grille is the best dessert in Custer (maybe even in the Black Hills). Seriously, this dessert is amazing — with chunks of carrot, nuts, and pineapple, and just the right amount of cream cheese frosting in so. many. layers.
Dinner at Sage Creek Grille was amazing too. I highly recommend the Field Greens salad, topped with a perfectly cooked piece of Wild Sockeye Salmon. Perfection.
I will tell you that Sage Creek Grille is a seasonal restaurant; they close October 15 for the winter season, just FYI.
If you can’t get there in time to get in a bite of carrot cake heaven, you can still find great desserts in Custer.
The first runner up for best dessert goes to … (drum roll, please) … The butter cake with popcorn ice cream (and garnishes of homemade caramel corn) at Skogen Kitchen! Not only is it a work of culinary genius (who ever heard of popcorn ice cream??), but it’s the perfect sweetness to complement any meal.
And the second runner up for best dessert is the strawberry rhubarb pie at Bobkat’s Purple Pie Place. I highly recommend buying a whole one and taking it home to share with your family. I’m not even a pie person, but these pies are good enough to make me reconsider.
Finally, I have to give a shoutout to Custer Wolf for their onion rings. They also have some great South Dakota beers on tap (including Lost Cabin beers, my favorite). We’ve had some pretty decent burgers here too, though I must say I’m partial to their onion rings.
But I also have to mention that onion rings been off the menu for some time. So, if you can’t find them there, the onion rings at Buglin’ Bull are also freshly cut and will satisfy your craving. (And if you happen to get there on a day when their rooftop bar is open, it’s a pretty sweet place to spend a few hours on a cool summer night.)
The tiny town of Custer (population: 1,900) is a foodie’s dream. They even have a Restaurant Week! You can happily spend four or five days eating your way through this town, like we did, then hike Little Devil’s Tower to work off all those calories.
Custer may be the oldest city in the Black Hills, but its food scene is entirely modern — and not to be missed!
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