It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it. The 605 team traveled all around South Dakota finding hidden gems and statewide staples. The 605 Best Awards are given to people and businesses who 605 feels deserve some recognition, whether it’s chilling in an igloo in the Black Hills or breaking a beer bottle at a bar as a tradition.
Readers and followers also take a vote for the 605 Best People’s Choice Awards. Here are the winners of 2022.
BEST PLACE FOR PIE
The Purple Pie Place
It’s hard to miss The Purple Pie Place in Custer with its bright purple exterior paint with pink embellishments (and don’t forget the charming purple pig outside). This summer and fall fixture has “the best homemade pies in the Black Hills,” and the restaurant serves hundreds of slices of pie per week each tourism season. Order inside or relax on the patio while you enjoy a pie, float, Purple Cow, sundae, or other delicacies. The Purple Pie Place is equally known for its Chicken Pot Pie. Other items include Mac & Cheese, a variety of sandwiches, paninis, soups and salads, and more.
19 Mt Rushmore Rd., Custer.
BEST ROADSIDE SHOP
Boar’s Nest Roadhouse
Located two miles from Lead, the Boar’s Nest Roadhouse is an eclectic timber- framed restaurant and bar located alongside Whitetail Creek on Highway 85/14A. The parking lot is constantly bustling with antique cars and motorcycles during busy season and is the “bikers, rats, and rods hangout in the Black Hills.” Get your “hogwash,” grab a burger (try the Boar Burger with a beef patty topped with Boar’s Nest’s famous slow-cooked pulled pork served on a specialty bun) and don’t miss Saturday Night Car Shows throughout the summer. Grab one of 60 domestic, import, or craft beers and sit by the creek to relax.
11275 US-14A, Lead.
BEST HEALTHY CHOICE
Daily Clean Food & Drink
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6215 S. Western Ave., Sioux Falls.
BEST PLACE TO GET A MILKSHAKE
Need a reprieve from your I-90 road trip? Pull over in Kimball at the unassuming Conoco gas station and step back into the 1950s at Ditty’s. This classic diner is “here to serve the traveling public,” and does so with comfort food and some of the best shakes in South Dakota. Open Monday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., grab breakfast, lunch, or dinner and stretch your legs. Breakfast includes items like Biscuits-n-Gravy, and lunch or dinner can include anything from a Smokin’ Jack Burger to a Ribeye Steak. Order food for the little ones with items like the Itty Bitty Ditty Burger with Fries.
801 S. Main St., Kimball.
BEST FRESH FAST FOOD
Barbacoa’s Burritos & Wraps
Think Chipotle and Qdoba, but make it local and with the freshest ingredients. That’s Barbacoa’s Burritos & Wraps in Spearfish. Whether you stop in or do the drive-thru, the Mexican-American- Thai fusion restaurant delivers fast, but makes everything from scratch. Besides the flour tortillas, green chile, and desserts, everything is gluten free and everything is pickled in-house. Barbacoa’s also makes its own salsas, including the extra hot favorite, Chuck Norris. Decide between a Burrito, Rice Bowl, Salad, Nacho, or Taco. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a Pabst Blue Ribbon or a Honey Habanero Brownie.
305 W. Jackson Blvd., Spearfish.
BEST MUST STOP BAR
The Ice House
Built in 1928 by John Keller, The Ice House was the first artificial ice plant in the Yankton area. Now, it’s a fixture in South Dakota to hang out and have a domestic beer by “the dock” and to toss the bottle (with permission) below. Now in the hands of the Andersons, it’s been in the family for almost 95 years. There’s still plenty of ice left at The Ice House, but it’s filled with buckets of beers waiting to be consumed by locals and visitors sharing stories and smashing beers.
101 Capital St., Yankton.
Vertex Sky Bar
When guests stay at the historic Hotel Alex Johnson, a Curio Collection by Hilton, they have complimentary access to the Vertex Sky Bar on the rooftop of the hotel. On top of panoramic views of Rapid City, the cocktail lounge and restaurant has a full menu of craft cocktails, wines, beer, appetizers, entrées, and desserts. Enjoy items like the West River Sausage Trio or a 6 Oz. Buffalo Tenderloin while you cozy up around the fire pits. Want access all of the time? Become a member of the Vertex Sky Bar where you get unlimited access to the restaurant, discounts on stays, and special Member Appreciation events.
523 6th St., Rapid City.
BEST DINNER & A SHOW
Olde Towne Dinner Theatre
Olde Towne Dinner Theatre is in its 40th anniversary season “celebrating the art and joy of community theater” in Worthing.
“Olde Towne is special for a number of reasons,” said artistic director John Boe. “First of all, the food can’t be beat.”
Audience members get a four-course, restaurant quality meal served to the table by volunteers during the show. Volunteers are always needed on and off the stage. Individuals, couples, families, and groups are welcome.
“We get so many talented actors down here. The shows are always enjoyable,” said Boe. “But what makes this place so special is a feeling.”
Boe remembers his first play he attended and says he immediately wanted to get involved.
“This place has always felt like a family. Everyone involved does it for the love of theater and Olde Towne,” he continued. “That’s why volunteers and patrons keep coming back.”
Tickets can be purchased per show or as season tickets. “Season tickets are $180 a piece,” said Boe. “There are two big benefits here: First you end up saving about $10 per show, and second you can make your reservations any time.”
Non-season tickets go on sale three weeks before opening night. Regular tickets have a few tiers from $50-$60 depending on seating preferences and dietary restrictions. Shows are held in the fall, over the holiday, winter, and spring.
The current show is 2 Across, which is about two male and female strangers who board a San Francisco BART train at 4:30 a.m.
“They’re alone in the car, each is married, both are doing The New York Times crossword,” said Boe. “She’s an organized, sensible psychologist. He’s a free-spirited, unemployed ad exec.”
2 Across runs December 1-4, 8-11, 15-18, and 29-31 and also runs January 1 and 5-8. Other shows include Leading Ladies in February and March, and The Movie Game in May and June.
“I’ve been involved at Olde Towne for over 15 years,” said Boe. “I love this place, and I love that we are building momentum for the future.”
121 Main St., Worthing.
BEST SOCIAL MEDIA
Tyler Roney is a first alert meteorologist at Dakota News Now in Sioux Falls with over 12,500 followers on Twitter (he notes in his bio that opinions are his own). While there are weather updates from time to time, his account also shares his personal life with humorous anecdotes. The married father of one is also a proud “cat dad” and tweets about their day-to-day lives, his sports and pop culture commentary, and even dabbles on the serious side at times. Here are just a few examples:
“We’re at that awkward time of the year where one neighbor has Christmas lights already hung up and the other has rotting pumpkins on their doorstep.” @TylerJRoney
“My daughter handed me a small bag of mini muffins. I gave her a hug because I was proud of her for finally learning how to share. Turns out she just wanted me to open it.” @TylerJRoney
“Today is #WorldKindnessDay! Remember: It costs $0.00 to be kind.” @TylerJRoney
Ben’s Brewing Co.
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BEST LOCAL ARTISTS
Good Night Theatre Collective
Good Night Theatre Collective (GNTC) is a Sioux Falls-based company founded to embrace the excitement of theater, the growing arts scene, and the production of quality community experiences. GNTC aims to produce work that challenges actors to grow and offers audiences something unexpected. The group of artists have also won awards, like the Hey! Sioux Falls award for Best Pivot of the Year and the Sioux Falls Arts Council’s Innovative Project Award (both were awarded in 2021). Check out the 2022-2023 season and enjoy “a good night.”
Justin Henrichsen has been making an impact in the bar and restaurant industry since 2011 wi Independent Ale House in Rapid City. Along with offering an ever-changing list of craft beer, the go-to on Saint Joseph Street downtown also has a variety of handcrafted salads and pizzas (try The Hasselhoff with ketchup, yellow mustard, ground hamburger, shredded cheddar cheese, onion, tomato, and pickle). Henrichsen has since expanded his portfolio with the purchase of Monk’s Ale House in Sioux Falls, the Spearfish Public House in Spearfish, and (most recently) Windsor Block Bar in Rapid City.
BEST LOCAL PRIDE
Jesse Fonkert hails from Mobridge and graduated from Augustana University with a double major in business administration and government/international affairs. He spent nearly four years as the chamber of economic development director for the City of Hartford, where he still resides with his wife Kelsey and daughter Astrid. During his tenure, he supported community leaders to revive downtown, build a strong Hartford Chamber of Commerce, and enhance the work of the Hartford Area Development Foundation. He now is the president and CEO of the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance, which is a regional economic organization serving 15 rural and suburban communities surrounding Sioux Falls in Lincoln County, Minnehaha County, and McCook County. He’s still an active member of Hartford with the Hartford Area Optimist Club, is part of the Downtown Sioux Falls Rotary, has been a graduate of Leadership South Dakota, is currently in Leadership Sioux Falls, and more. In 2021, he launched the Grow Smarter Conference and hosted it in 2022 in Harrisburg via the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance and continues to expand the brand/offerings through unique resources.
Sadie Swier spent her early career being a champion for businesses, events, and more downtown Sioux Falls with Downtown Sioux Falls Inc. as the community outreach coordinator. Now, she’s cheering on professionals as the director of the SD CEO East Women’s Business Center. Swier’s role is to empower entrepreneurship and women in business in both business and life. This happens through in-person and virtual workshops, webinars, networking events, and conferences. Swier is a graduate of Leaders of Tomorrow, Leadership Sioux Falls, and is a current member of Leadership South Dakota.
Rachel Gage & Tracy Kirby of Isn’t it Lovely
For times like these, a podcast was created by Rachel Gage and Tracy Kirby to look for “the lovely” in things. Isn’t it Lovely? formulated 10 years ago when Gage and Kirby first met and say their sister-like bond started.
“We met at a local sandwich shop after Tracy had just moved to Sioux Falls,” recalled Gage. “When we met, it was like our souls recognized one another and we immediately knew we would not only be dear friends, but that we would work together one day.”
Both South Dakota transplants, the pair says they bonded and found comfort in their friendship. Years later, when Gage says it seemed like most media was “bleak and rife with discord,” they pondered what it would be like to capture inspiring conversations they were already having in coffee shops with other people, and to share those conversations with the public to encourage and inspire.
The duo merged Kirby’s journalism background and Gage’s ability to encourage to launch the podcast that is now in its seventh season.
“Doing this as partners is an absolute dream,” said Kirby. “It’s incredible to have a teammate to lean on, from the workload and goals set to lessons learned and celebrations. Being able to lift each other up and speak into one another’s strengths and believe in each other is so powerful.”
Topics have included anything from surviving addiction to living a life of service. Most recently Gage and Kirby had a sit- down interview with South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem.
“We feel so fortunate to have had the privilege of interviewing a really broad spectrum of guests and are so excited to continue to represent a variety of different stories and voices in the months and years to come,” said Gage.
The co-hosts say it’s fun to look how the show has evolved over the years, and one big change happening soon will be interviewing guests outside of South Dakota as well.
“We are thrilled to be expanding our roster to include incredible guests outside of the 605, while also continuing to showcase amazing people and stories in the state of South Dakota and have some great surprises in store,” said Kirby.
As creatives themselves, Gage and Kirby say the local creative community has been very welcoming and supportive throughout their journey.
“We have fallen in love with the unbelievably supportive community of entrepreneurs and creatives in the area and are overwhelmed by the generosity and encouragement we have received,” said Gage. “It can be terrifying to enter the creative arena, but when you’re met with others that simply cheer you on, it helps you dream even bigger.”
Miner Brewing Co. Igloos & Prairie Berry Winery Igloos
Order a pint, grab a blanket, and take a seat inside the outdoor igloos at Miner Brewing Company in Hill City. Enjoy two hours or more in a private igloo surrounded by winter in the Black Hills.
“Our igloos are clear, so you can enjoy the beauty that surrounds you, while being able to intimately enjoy the company of your guests,” said brand and marketing manager Shanna Hockert.
Each of the seven igloos are equipped with adjustable space heaters for comfort, though Miner Brewing Company does recommend guests dress for the weather and can bring a blanket if they desire. Igloos are available November through mid March each year and are reservation only. Weekday pricing (Monday through Thursday) is $25, and weekend pricing (Friday through Sunday) is $35.
Board games and bluetooth speakers are available to check out at the taproom, and guests can order food and wine from Prairie Berry Winery next door. Hockert notes that there isn’t table service at the igloos, and menu items must be picked up at the brewery or winery.
“We encourage our guests who wish to order food to enjoy during their igloo reservation to do so when they check in at Miner,” said Hockert. “Our food is all house-made at the Prairie Berry kitchen next door. We also have a variety of snacks at the Miner taproom.”
Each igloo is lit, so guests can experience them at night as well. Igloos are intended to seat six adults, and children are welcome.
Dogs are welcome on the lawn, but not inside the igloos.
Hockert says the igloos have been used for many types of experiences. “We’ve had all types of gatherings take place in our igloos, from team building, friends enjoying the afternoon, family get-togethers, and we’ve even had a few wedding proposals take place over the last couple years,” she said. “You may rent as many igloos or time slots as you would like.”
Something that is new this year is full-day reservations during weekday hours.
“Come when it’s convenient for your group,” said Hockert.
This winter, Miner Brewing Company will be hosting its annual Black Hills Winter Festival, which is a weekend of outdoor events and activities. Dates and details will be announced in the near future. There will also be other heated tents on location to continue “patio season.”
This unique opportunity has been created to still appreciate the outdoors in the winter with close friends, family, and acquaintances.
“Guests often say they love the opportunity to enjoy the view and our brews while still being somewhat secluded with their own group,” said Hockert.
23845 US-385, Hill City.
BEST WAY TO PAMPER YOUR PET
Ellyn Montag of Shop Dog Boutique
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5015 S. Western Ave. Ste. 130, Sioux Falls.
1880 Train Holiday Express
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222 Railroad Ave, Hill City.
BEST COMMUNITY VIBES
Built in the late 1800s, Halley’s Store in Keystone “has everything you needed in the 1890s, and everything you might not need, but want in the 21st Century.” This treasure trove is full of charm with antiques of all kinds, taxidermy, instruments, and so much more. Pull up a seat at the bar—or practically anywhere—and have a beer while you catch up with locals and visitors from all over. “Home of the world’s okay-est burger with near adequate service,” grab a bite while you browse. The comradery is just as special as the carefully-curated store, whether it’s hearing a great story or jamming out to music. Speaking of music, Halley’s hosts live music events, including games like bean bags and ping pong. Leave your mark with a dollar bill on the ceiling.
501 1st St., Keystone.
BEST FAMILY ATTRACTION
WaTiki Indoor Waterpark & Resort
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1314 N. Elk Vale Rd., Rapid City.
Black Hills Playhouse
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24834 S. Playhouse Rd., Custer.
Lewis & Clark Resort
Sitting on 30 acres of grass with 2,000 feet of lake shore is Lewis & Clark Resort in Yankton.
“This allows us to have two beaches, two volleyball courts, a basketball court, bocce ball courts, an outdoor pool, and a playground without feeling cramped,” said owner and operator Mike Grave.
The resort along the Missouri River has something to do for everyone, including 20 miles of bike and walking trails, a marina, and spots to simply be in the moment.
“Now with a coffee bar on site, you can get your morning latte and relax in an Adirondack chair overlooking the water,” said Grave.
There is also a variety of lodging options, including campsites, motel rooms, two-bedroom cabins, three-bedroom cabins, four-bedroom cottages, and The Lodge. The Lodge sleeps up to 28 people and is a 4,000 square foot building designed to specialize in family reunions, weddings, corporate retreats, or family vacations.
“The Lodge has an amazing view with great space to accommodate tents and any outdoor types of events, and the interior can see up to 100 people,” said Grave.
Two of the 3,000 square foot cottages are new and were built last winter. Both have four bedrooms and three bathrooms that sleep up to 20.
“These were built to fill a hole in our offering between cabins that sleep 10 and the lodge that sleeps 28,” said Grave.
Along with a 1,300 square foot great room that has a double kitchen, the cottages have a 60×20 patio that overlooks the lake with firepits, a gas grill, and picnic tables. Grave says the best feature of the new cottages is the view.
“The sunrise over the dam and the sunsets on the water making the bluffs glow are just breathtaking and never get old,” said Grave.
Each cottage has its own theme. One is Dakota themed and is called the Buffalo Cottage, which was inspired by the large buffalo in the great room. The Beach Cottage is nicknamed the “Kayak Cottage,” as it has a handmade kayak from a local woodworker in town as its main display piece.
Lewis & Clark Resort also recently added six full hookup campsites to accommodate a family reunion. The Resort will take reservations up to five calendar years out allowing for big groups to plan ahead, but it can also take last minute stays with the new expansion.
When it comes to lodging, Grave says there’s nothing like being surrounded by the outdoors.
“When your door opens out to the grass and lake, it changes the whole lodging experience,” said Grave. “Sitting at a campfire at night instead of sitting on your bed watching TV is something that creates memories.”
BEST UP-CLOSE ENCOUNTER
Butterfly House & Aquarium
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4320 S. Oxbow Ave., Sioux Falls.
BEST OUTSTANDING ENTREPENEUR
Kara Hagen of Southern Hills Mercantile & Taproom, Moccasin Springs Natural Mineral Spa, and Scobi Kombucha
Kara Hagen has worked in property management for over 34 years and is making an impact in Hot Springs and South Dakota. One property she has put her heart and soul into is Moccasin Springs Natural Mineral Spa, with four outdoor natural mineral spring pools, spa treatments, yoga, and more. Last summer Hagen opened Southern Hills Mercantile & Taproom (nicknamed “The Merc”) with partner Mike Sommer, which offers flights of craft beer, kombucha, and menu items like Shrimp Cocktail and Wagyu Sliders. The kombucha is also Hagen’s company, Scobi Kombucha, which has its kombuchary and taproom located in The Merc.
BEST MUST-GO RESTAURANT
The Alpine Inn
The people have spoken, and Alpine Inn in Hill City continues to be a South Dakota favorite. This historic landmark was built in 1886 as the Harney Peak Hotel and has been family owned and operated as Alpine Inn for over three decades. On the corner of Elm and Main Street, it’s typical to see a line around the block waiting to experience the old world charm and Eurpean cuisine. Items include the Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon, Reuben, Kaes Spaetzle, and Schnitzel.
BEST NEW BUSINESS
Cirka Performance Arts
Cirka Performance Arts is a premiere, insured aerial and circus event performance group based in Sioux Falls by Katie Herrmann and Kayla Mathieu. The group consists of aerial teachers and “life-long students” that bring their passion to events, like weddings, festivals, and corporate events. Each setup is custom to the event and can include performances like juggling, aerial silks, fire performances, and aerial hoops.