Vertex Sky Bar (Rapid City, SD)

After a week of recovery back in New Hampshire, we found ourselves quickly heading out again to Rapid City, SD, to rendezvous with friends from Fitpacking for a hike along South Dakota’s Centennial trail. We were hiking the northern third of the trail, from Nemo SD to Bear Butte. Before we rendezvoused with our hiker colleagues, we spent a night at the historic Hotel Alex Johnson downtown. Built by its namesake Alex Johnson, a railroad baron with the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, it’s an interesting old grand hotel, and supposedly haunted by multiple ghosts. While we didn’t encounter any such hauntings on either of our visits (we stayed there after our trip as well), staying at the hotel has another nice perk: access to the Vertex Sky Bar, their rooftop bar.

The main attraction at Vertex is, of course, the view. The Hotel is one of the the tallest buildings in all of Rapid City, with panoramic views over the entire city, and, during the day, even sports a decent view of the Black Hills to the west. They’ve done a very nice job outfitting the rooftop bar, with two different deck levels, glass walls, and multiple fire pits you can sit around enjoying your food and beverage.

Settling into a nice high-top table next to the glass overlooking the lower terrace, we first enjoyed a round of cocktails, both opting for the same thing: the Paloma de Fuego. A nice, spicy riff on the standard paloma, this had Mezcal, grapefruit, lime, agave, and candied lime. A nice, refreshing drink after a long day of travel, and a damn fine view to boot.

While the dinner menu at Vertex had a lot of great options, I was drawn to a slightly unusual selection for me, the pan-seared tofu. Some nicely-seared slabs of tofu, served up with sauteed micro-vegetables and roasted fingerlings in a red curry coconut cream sauce, this ended up being a not-terribly-photogenic dish, but quite a delicious one despite that, with quite a bit more heat than I was expecting.

Carol, meanwhile, opted for a burger, their Vertex Sky Burger. Certified Angus Beef Burger with gruyere, bacon jam, fried onions and arugula on a brioche bun. This was a well-prepared, properly cooked burger, and bacon jam and housemade red pepper ketchup were nice additions. Overall, a solid and satisfying burger.

We rather enjoyed Vertex Sky Bar. While the primary attraction here is the most excellent view over the town (especially at nice, with the city lights and bits of neon), the drink menu and dinner selections are quite good as well; I can see why this is one of Rapid City’s top dinner destinations.

(And, with this review, Offbeat Eats has now posted reviews from 34 different states! 16 to go!)

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