Start your morning at Cook’s Kitchen in downtown Brookings. This local diner serves classic breakfast combos of epic proportions. Go ahead and try not to order everything but the kitchen sink. After filling up on cinnamon rolls and cheesy hash browns, take a stroll down Main Avenue for a perfectly hot and frothed latte at Cottonwood Coffee. Next, browse the shelves at The Carrot Seed Kitchen Company and inspire your inner chef.
Once the caffeine buzz has worn off, belly up for lunch at Nick’s Hamburger Shop. Slinging two-ounce burgers since 1929, Nick’s is world famous for its nostalgic 50s diner-vibe and mouthwatering mini burgers. Don’t even think about ordering fries, because there’s no such thing, and get yourself a slice of homemade pie instead.
Sticking with the downtown theme, when dinnertime hits (or supper, depending on where you’re from), grab a seat at Old Market Eatery. Brookings has a knack for repurposing old banks into restaurants and Old Market nails the ambiance. The limited menu changes with the seasons and many of their items are sourced from local producers. Oh, and – a meal is not complete without a handcrafted martini and homemade cheesecake.
Sleep in and go for brunch at Cottonwood Bistro. The sister store to Cottonwood Coffee specializes in healthy breakfast and lunch options made from scratch with local ingredients. It’s the perfect start to a previously gut-busting day. Take a tea to go and satisfy your sweet tooth at Choco Latte Coffee & Handmade Candy. No need to choose favorites, mix and match homemade fudge and save a few for later, if that’s possible.
Take a break (or walk off your previous meals) at Dakota Nature Park. Every good foodie needs a chance to digest, take a cat nap and work up another appetite. Hit the trails on foot or bike, or test your floatation skills in one of their rentable canoes or kayaks. Either way, you’ll feel fully refreshed and ready for the next food challenge.
Settle in for the evening and try this next mission, if you choose to accept it. Bring the team together and order pizza from a few of our local joints, plus a tried and true chain location. Find our list of pizza places in the restaurant section. Once all the ‘za has arrived, let the taste testing begin and make your call for which pizza joint is the best. Who knew pizza would have a shot in a food lover’s tour of Brookings.
Gut-busted yet? If not, grab a piece of cold pizza and saddle up for one more day of culinary treats. One cannot indulge in a food lover’s paradise without ice cream. Luckily, Brookings comes equipped with a few options. Your first and famous option lays claim to inventing Cookies ‘N’ Cream back in 1979 on the campus of South Dakota State University when a few dairy science students and a plant manager began experimenting. To this day, guests can witness the cow-to-cone process, creating more than 60 flavors of ice cream and sherbet at the SDSU Dairy Bar.
For a classic twist, try Zesto Drive-ln. They offer some of the best softserve strawberry ice cream in a waffle cone this side of the Missouri River and have been in Brookings since the 1950s. If you must, a chili cheese footlong is a great addition to a scoop of ice cream.
Finally, for something savory and sweet, bring it home to the Pheasant Restaurant & Lounge. What started as a small gas station café has grown into the oldest full-service restaurant in Brookings and has been in the same family for nearly half a century. The menu at the Pheasant features items unique to South Dakota including bison burgers, pheasant salad wraps, and Grecian lamb burgers. Finish off your meal with Trevor’s Artisanal Ice Cream, made in-house using fresh, simple ingredients and pairings you never thought would be good together.