The second smallest capital city in the country has the population of around 14,000 people. What it’s full of is South Dakota history and family-owned businesses (and legislators). After taking a jaunt on the Trail of Governors, or stopping by the town staple, Bob’s Lounge for a beer, try one of these destinations in Pierre.
106 E. Dakota Ave.
La Minestra has made a name for itself in Pierre, and it’s just one of many businesses that have occupied the historic building.
“The building was a saddle company, a mortuary, and then a grocery store,” said owner and chef Mark Mancuso. “From there, this was a beer parlor and then an old bar.”
Now it serves American-Italian specialties, including New York style pizza made with homemade dough, like the Atomic Goat with pepperoni and jalapenos topped with sriracha goat cheese.
Their pasta is made fresh every day, and their Chicken Tortellini is so popular that Mancuso says he’s never been able to take it off the menu. But there’s one dish that’s his favorite, which is why it was titled – you guessed it – Mark’s Favorite. The dish has Italian sausage from their secret family recipe, and is sauteed with sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and roasted red peppers in a red sauce over rigatoni.
Mancuso explained, “I went to culinary school in Seattle. I got a job in Bellevue, and every day for lunch I would make this specific dish. When we opened the restaurant, I titled it ‘Mark’s Favorite Dish’ because that’s all I ate when I was working.”
There are other items that aren’t Italian heavy, like Duck Wings, the Spicy Shrimp & Rice Bowl, Coconut Chicken Risotto, and much more.
Taste local beers available, like Highway 79 Brewing Company’s Beach Ball Kölch, Fernson Brewing Company’s Lion’s Paw, or Lost Cabin Beer Company’s Lord Grizzly Scottish Ale. They also have cocktails like the Cucumber Lime Bloody Mary and the Tiramisu Martini.
Check in for daily specials.
Open Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., 5-9 p.m.
35,000 flights flew in and out of the Pierre in 2017
CULTURAL HERITAGE CENTER
900 Governors Dr.
Even if you don’t go inside, seeing the outside of the award-winning Cultural Heritage Center is a bucket list experience. As part of South Dakota’s 1989 Centennial Project, the state legislature committed $6.5 million to build the earth-covered establishment. The 63,000 square foot underground building preserves the state’s past and present cultural resources in a structure “recalling the ancient Arikara earth lodges that once were found near the Missouri River Valley.”
They do this through the South Dakota State Historical Society with exhibits that showcase the state’s earliest history up to the 20th century.
Director of the S.D.S.H.S. Jay D. Vogt pointed out, “I want to emphasize the logo of the South Dakota State Historical Society. It’s based off of one our best artifacts in our collection: the Great Sioux Horse Effigy. It has been on two international exhibitions in the past … It is truly a magnificent piece. You notice the 10 red marks on the body of the horse, which represent the 10 shots believed to have been fired at the horse during the Battle of Little Bighorn.”
One of the newest exhibits is “The Spirit of the ‘70s,” which features people, places, and events that influenced history, society, and popular culture both in South Dakota and around the nation in the 1970s.
This unique attraction also is home to the State Archives, where the S.D.S.H.S. collects, appraises, accessions, describes, organizes, preserves, determines, and makes available manuscripts collections, South Dakota state, county, and other town government records, photographs, maps, and other archival materials which have permanent historical and research value.
The State Archives contain over 12,000 cubic feet of records.
Guided group tours are available with a maximum of 25 people per group with more than one group welcome (they suggest scheduling one week in advance). The group rate is $3 per person, and tours are one hour. General admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors 60 and older, and is free for children 17 and under and for Society Members. There is free admission the first Sunday of the month.
Open Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., and Sundays and holidays 1-4:30 p.m.
ABOUT THE STRUCTURE
- The Cultural Heritage Center is one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the region.
- The hill the Center is built on is covered with native prairie sod from Jones County.
- Native wildflowers, meadow herbs, yucca, and skunk-brush grow on the natural cover.
- You can find mule deer often nibbling on the blue grama, western wheat, green need, and buffalo grasses.
Pierre was challenged by Huron for the capital & won because it is the geographic center of the state.
MAD MARY’S STEAKHOUSE & SALOON
110 E. Dakota Ave.
As you walk into Mad Mary’s Steakhouse & Saloon, it’s like you’re in a time capsule of the Wild West. The quirky atmosphere is a collection of eclectic memorabilia from customers, family members, estate sales, and antique shops.
The western theme carries over into the menu, with items like the Deadwood Trail Mix Up appetizer, the Billy the Kid Burger, and Wild Bill and Calamity Jane’s Favorite.
If you decide to come by owner Mary Etzkorn’s establishment, come hungry. Actually, come starving, because it’s known for its charming style and delicious food.
“The French Onion Soup is homemade by Mary Lou, my mom,” continued Etzkorn, “and it’s one of our staples here at the restaurant.”
Appetizers include Shrimp Cocktail and Pistol Pete’s Pickle Spears, while dinner entrées range from items like Salmon Filet, Filet Mignon, and the Double Mad Burger. Steaks are cut in-house and the restaurant grinds their own burgers.
Dinners include homemade soup or salad with your choice of a side, like the Herb Linguine. A Mad Mary’s favorite are the Tin Taters – sliced potato, bacon, and onion wrapped in foil. Home-baked bread also comes with your meal (did we mention to come hungry?).
Add Crab Stuffed Shrimp, Grilled Cajun Shrimp, Jumbo Shrimp, or King Crab to your meat, if you wish.
And it doesn’t stop at food. Don’t leave without trying cocktails like the Peacemaker, the Cowboy Cosmo, or the festive South Dakota Sunrise, which is served in a boot mug.
If you’re not falling over from feasting, try Desserts by Vicki. What is it, you ask? We’re not sure, but it says to “ask your server.”
Open Monday-Saturday 5-9 p.m.
NO PLACE FOR “WELL DONE”
Mad Mary’s gives a fair warning that they’re not the place for well done meat. It reads: “We do not guarantee medium well or well done steaks.” Think red or pink.
EIGHTH-MOST POPULOUS CITY IN SOUTH DAKOTA
BILL OF RIGHTS BREWERY
1601 Harrison Ave. Ste. 5
Owner Brian Trimble has been homebrewing for 15 years. Deciding it was time for the area to have a brewery, Brian and co-owner (and wife) Amanda opened their (patriotic) doors last April. The name Bill of Rights Brewery came from the couple wanting to celebrate the area and the culture of the capital.
“We’re trying to bring the constitution and history back, which can be forgotten very easily,” said Amanda. “We name some of the beers based off of Pierre, our history, and our surroundings.”
Beers swap out around every three months. During 605’s stop, they had Jalapeno Amber Ale, Ben Franklin Milk Stout, En-Joy Mint Stout, Long Ball Lager, Hefeweizen, and 1st Amendment Honey Basil.
Try a flight of four for $6, or a flight of six for $9. Want to take some home? Purchase a glass growler for $30 or a stainless steel growler for $60. Refills are around $17, so make sure to save growlers for later. Wine is also available.
Not in the mood, or you’re the (admirable) designated driver? There are delicious cream soda and root beer float options. T-shirts are also for sale, as well as honey balm, raw honey, honey sticks, and 10 lb. bags of ice for $1.
The most popular brews are Jalapeno Amber and Honey Basil Ale.
One of the most unique features? All of the signatures from the Declaration of Independence are on the bar.
Make sure to stop by for a variety of hand-crafted beers where the couple says families, friends, and neighbors can come together to enjoy each others’ conversation, and to “celebrate our country’s founding documents and those who serve to protect them.”
Open Wednesday-Saturday 4-10 p.m.