Anytime the James Beard Foundation hands out honors to chefs and restaurants, it's a big deal.

Think of it as the equivalent of a Grammy in the music world, an Oscar in the film world, or a Tony in the theater world.

One South Dakota restaurant now knows the thrill of being a James Beard Award Winner.

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Pheasant Restaurant and Lounge
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The Pheasant Restaurant and Lounge in Brookings has been recognized as a James Beard 2024 America’s Classics Award recipient for the Midwest Region.

The honor goes to 'locally owned restaurants that serve quality food, have timeless appeal, and reflect the character of their communities.'

The Pheasant is the oldest full-service restaurant in Brookings, getting its start as a gas station café in 1949.

The menu has remained largely unchanged over the past 75 years, with dishes like hot roast beef on homemade white bread with mashed potatoes and gravy, Nordic waffles, chef salad, spätzle, and liver and onions.

The restaurant's signature Pheasant Salad Sandwich was introduced in memory of days when World War II soldiers would be treated to pheasant salad sandwiches as they traveled across South Dakota.


  • Pheasant Restaurant and Lounge, Brookings, South Dakota
  • Mandalay, San Francisco
  • Vietnam Restaurant, Philadelphia
  • Sylvia’s Restaurant, New York City
  • Wade’s Restaurant, Spartanburg, South Carolina
  • Peppermill Restaurant and Fireside Lounge, Las Vegas

There's another South Dakota connection to the James Beard Awards in 2024.

For the second straight year, Sanaa Abourezk, from Sanaa’s Gourmet Mediterranean in Sioux Falls, is a semifinalist in the Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI) category.

The finalists will be revealed April 3 with the winner announced June 10.

Detour Dining: Off-the-Beaten-Path Restaurants You Must Try in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa

Beyond the well-traveled tourist paths, there’s a whole different world of food exploration throughout South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. From tiny restaurants in historic towns serving up generations-old recipes to small town dive bars that not only have cheap, cold beer, but unique and unexpected homemade dishes.

We’ve created an exploration of off-the-beaten path restaurants nestled in the charming landscapes of the tri-state area. Take a detour from the ordinary and discover the extraordinary flavors as you travel the roads not-so-often traveled. 

Gallery Credit: Karla Brown / Townsquare Media

10 Small-Town South Dakota Restaurants That Are Worth The Drive

The Sioux Empire is full of restaurants that are long-known to be local favorites.

Sure, they might be a short drive from home, but you won't regret the experience at these hometown mainstays.

Here are 10 of the best small-town restaurants in South Dakota.

Gallery Credit: Andy Gott

Where To Eat When Traveling South Dakota, Here's 20 To Choose From

20 South Dakota Restaurants

Gallery Credit: Dave Roberts

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