First off, I'm new here. Hello.
Second, I'm from Sioux Falls, SD. There hasn't been a lot of talk on this board about what there is to offer here in my hometown lately, so I thought I'd do my part to throw out some reviews so that three years from now, when you find yourself heading to Sioux Falls for some reason, you can at least have a shot at what options there are (from a local point of view).
Third, I travel to the Cities a lot (and elsewhere somewhat less often), so when you read these reviews, know that they weren't written in a complete vacuum. While I'm probably not the most experienced chowhound, I enjoy a truly great restaurant (probably more than the average person).
A little bit about Sioux Falls and the way the locals treat restaurants. I've heard (but never researched) that Sioux Falls has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the United States with a population over 100,000. If true, and I would believe that it is, it's because there isn't much to do here except eat. As a result, when a new restaurant comes to town (regardless of quality), it gets pummeled by the locals because it's something new. This goes for chain restaurants as well, and we've got a ton of them. Also, Sioux Falls isn't very big, so many people tend to drive to a new location if the wait is over 25 minutes. We're an impatient bunch as a whole, so it seems like the restaurants have reacted to this in our little gastrosphere and service is usually pretty timely.
Ok. On to the specific restaurants. I'll focus on the higher-end, bigger, more expensive places for now, or this post is going to be WAY too long. This means I'm going to miss my favorites for now, but I don't want to die keeping this information to myself.
There's been some talk about Minervas on this board in the past, but I'm going to put it out there. It's 'alright'. Good steaks, with an outdated interior sporting lots of brass. This restaurant is run by one of the more prominent restaurant families in the area and has launched several spinoffs due to it's success. Due to it's longstanding presence in Sioux Falls, it is frequented by an older crowd.
A more modern version of Minervas (although not affiliated). Similar offerings (steak, chops, pasta, seafood). Slightly above average on a national scale, but probably one of the better places in town if you're looking for an upscale meal. Nice upscale bar area. For food, my personal favorites are the bone-in ribeye, the french onion soup and the walleye cheeks appetizer. Very tasty stuff. The scene is younger than Minerva's, frequented by business people and has a bit of a see or be seen vibe, but in a town the size of Sioux Falls, it's hard not to be seen no matter where you go.
Used to be Theo's, and was much better when it was, in my opinion. When Foley's came on the scene and drew the 'ooooh, a new restaurant' crowd, Theo's shut down, redecorated in a bizarre artsy art deco kind of feel -- swapping out their menu and steakhouse attitude for a very high-end (and neon-infused?) approach. This didn't go over well and didn't lure back the locals. They've since combined their new menu with some favorites from the old, but the quality (and especially the service) just isn't there. In addition, they lost one of the partners (who was also the head chef), who started up his own catering business. I haven't been there since, so I can't vouch for how they're doing now.
The Country Clubs.
If you are ever visiting locals and get invited to one of the country club restaurants (The Minnehaha Country Club and the Westward Ho Country Club), avoid them at all costs. Really not good. Bad. Laughable even.
This one has been mentioned on this board a few times. Originally a Minervas spinoff, it split off entirely last summer on it's own. Very popular locally, Spezia is an American Italian restaurant that offers consistently good food. It won't blow your mind, but it's good. Look for the Giglio Pasta (with green pesto sauce), the pork roast, or the Arcadian Chicken Pasta (spicy brown sauce). Also immensly popular for their Sunday Brunch, I've never seen anything like it anywhere. It's truly immense and quite good, with a wide variety of unique breakfast pizzas, pastas, meats, breakfast items, pastries and salad items. In season, they offer special menus based around specific locally grown ingredients. Their heirloom tomato menu comes to mind. Worth checking out.
Started up by the Spezia crowd this spring, Bracco is a carribean inspired restarant (with a little mexican/sushi/other stuff thrown in for good measure) that gives me a big 'ho-hum' kind of feeling overall. They turned down experienced wait staff in favor of young, green servers with no clue what they are doing, so the service is awkward. There are good items on the menu (the appetizers and sandwiches are good stuff). Overall, it's a very popular spot, but the service, the food, and the mixed drinks just aren't there for me. That being said, the patio is a very nice place to catch an afternoon breeze, although it's open inconsistently for some reason. Overall, I guess I'm just surprised that the owners can't replicate the consistency of Spezia with Bracco.
That's probably enough Sioux Falls coverage for now. How am I doing so far? Should I go back to lurking, or was this helpful at all?