By Denise DePaolo

Images by Liz Painter

Located in the heart of downtown Yankton, Willa B’s Bistro and Emporium is exactly the kind of place a visitor to this picturesque river town would hope to wander into. Think a feminine version of Luke’s on Gilmore Girls. It’s an eatery with a distinct “local” vibe, cozy and crafty, but not contrived.

When we approached the counter on a Thursday afternoon, the woman behind the counter in a chef coat greeted us with a smile, and asked what we’d like as though we’d been there a hundred times. When my friend and I mentioned that it was our first time at Willa B’s, she handed us a menu to peruse. Although it was populated with lunchtime basics, like paninis and salads, it took us a few minutes to narrow down our choices, as each item came with the promise of a homemade, gourmet twist. Since we weren’t starving, it was nice to see that the sandwiches came in half portions. We took that as an opportunity to order soup as well.


After placing our order at the counter, we sat down with our glass bottle Cokes and took in the space around us. In addition to serving as a restaurant, Willa B’s is also a gallery space selling original art, greeting cards, jewelry, scarves, and other artisan products. On our table was a laminated list of “fun facts” about Yankton, greater South Dakota, and food. All in all, it made the short wait for our lunch fly by.

After about 10 minutes, the chef (who appeared to be running a one-woman show), dropped off our food. Looking back at us was the Spores & Beef panini, Smoked Chicken sandwich, bowls of cabbage stew and creamy tomato soup, and sides of Waldorf salad and potato and ham salad.

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Read the full review in the April issue of 605 Magazine or click here



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