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Travel With Bender

Uncovering the best family holidays

Midwest, USA

Where To Eat In Rapid City (If You Only Eat In 1 Restaurant)

Choosing a restaurant for lunch or dinner in a new city can be intimidating. This is especially true when you’ve only got a couple days on vacation - you want to ensure it’s the best experience for your family.

Hopefully our recent article about things to do in Rapid City, South Dakota has inspired you to check out this fascinating and beautiful region. While you’re in town, you’ll want to know where to eat. Luckily we discovered a unique gastronomical experience that you won’t find anywhere else and I’m sure you’ll love it as much as we did.


My #1 Place To Eat In Rapid City

kōl is a trendy restaurant by day and a popular night club by night, which was surprising and impressive, since I couldn’t tell at first glance.

But what captivated me the most was the mouth-watering menu. The right side of the appetizer list is lined with options for the health conscious, headlined as “Fuel the Body”. And on the left side a similar dish for those looking to indulge, under an appropriate name of “Soothe the Soul”.

We tried several angelic dishes and their wicked counterparts. Sometimes the healthy one was more delicious, but more often the deliciousness of the dark side won us over.

We’ve been to hundreds of restaurants in our travels and can quickly determine when a chef “gets it”. Their passion for food is tangible. The attention to detail is palpable. I call it “love on a plate”, and I’m pleased to say you’ll find that here in spades.

All dishes are crafted in-house and most are prepared using a 10,000-pound coal-fired oven (thus the name, kōl). And if they don’t have something you fancy, they will likely find it (such as when our kids asked for ketchup). The arc-shaped open-style kitchen adds an element of transparency and entertainment. 

If you have special dietary requirements you’ll be pleased to know many menu items are gluten-free and they have a generous selection of vegetarian friendly dishes.

Oh, and don’t forget to try a cocktail. This White Cosmo with the spherical ice-cube orchid was just divine.

White Cosmo: before…
…and after
Spicy Fifty – yes, that’s a chilli slice floating in there


I’ll just let these photos to the talking (and you do the drooling). 

Naughty (don’t be fooled by the greens): Artichokes – with red onion, blue cheese, bacon, cage-free egg, arugula, crostini
Nice: Artichokes – with asparagus, zucchini, red onion, cherry tomato, feta & red pepper sauce
Naughty: Brussels – with thick-cut bacon & parmesan cheese
Nice: Brussels – with pomegranate reduction & micro green onion salad
Beets by Blake salad
Beet & sweet chips
Notorious P.I.G. pizza

On Friday and Saturday nights kōl transforms from mild-mannered restaurant to after-dark hotspot. The main seating area is cleared, a retractable 21-foot-wide LED curtain covers the kitchen, and a DJ mezzanine is revealed. 

Kitchen with LED curtain above


Honourable Mention

But while we are on the subject of food in Rapid City, we never took the opportunity to eat at Murphey’s Pub & Grill, but we did walk in and have a look since it’s the sister restaurant of kōl
. Management was so nice and offered the kids a quarter to play arcade games at the back.

In a moment of absolute thrilling astonishment to us all, my 5-year-old played the classic claw game and won himself a fluffy Bison. I’ve never seen anyone win a claw game! He was over the moon.

Win!


The Bottom Line

I’ll be honest, when we first arrived in Rapid City, I didn’t expect to find a boundary-pushing restaurant with such modern, sophisticated dishes. So I’ve learned an important lesson about judging a book by its cover.

Next time I’m in Rapid City, my first stop without hesitation will be kōl. The second stop, if my kids have any say, will be the claw game. What about you?

Here's what you have to say...

"I respond to every comment by private email. So please leave me comments, I love chatting to you" -
Posted by Carmen Everywhere on
Look at all this food. I love the photos of these healthy looking salads, especially Brussels and artichokes. When I read Dakota and Rapid City I thought it would be some chunky burgers and ribs. But I am pleasantly surprised. :)
Posted by Britt on
I was super curious to see what your one pick of restaurant in Rapid City was going to be. I was surprised and kinda disappointed to see it was Kol! I ate there a few months ago and was super disappoint. Maybe I'll have to give it another shot.
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