Blind Lion (Rapid City, SD)

Our last evening in Rapid City, after a nice walk through town and visiting Lost Cabin Brewery, we decided to check out Blind Lion, one of Rapid City’s cocktail bars and dinner spots. Blind Lion is a speakeasy, one of those hidden bars without signage that have become quite popular in recent years (I particularly enjoyed a 2017 trip to Kansas City where we visited two great speakeasies: Manifesto and Tikicat, both of which have, unfortunately, closed). And, more importantly to Offbeat Eats, Blind Lion also also offers a dinner menu, so we set off for the west end of Main Street to find the establishment.

Getting into Blind Lion retains some of the mystique of the speakeasy era: you start by going around to the back alley of one of west Main’s prominent pubs (in a weak attempt to keep the magic alive, you’ll have to do a bit of research to figure out which one), walk through the door marked “employees only” (and the entrance truly is an employee back entrance, with cleaning supplies and the like), and take the stairs down. At the end follow the hallway, and you come to a safe door where you can give your password, and get lead to your table.

In this era of craft cocktail resurgence, we’ve had a lot of cocktail bars working on ambiance, and the thing that stood out about Blind Lion is that they’ve stuck hard to the “prohibition era speakeasy” vibe. No, not the Roaring 20s polished glass, leather booths, and Chicago gangster theme, but an actual speakeasy in a basement with improvised furniture, mismatched vintage glassware, and even the occasional bathtub. Seriously, as far as “speakeasy ambiance” goes, they actually knock this one out of the park.

For cocktails, they’ve got a pretty wide list of cocktails, and a set of competent bartenders who will do custom drinks. We both had cocktails, but since mine was a custom cocktail from the bar, I don’t really remember what was in it aside from Amaro and egg whites. But such is life on the edge, this was indeed a tasty cocktail.

For our appetizer, we went with the other style of cocktail, the shrimp cocktail. While always a bit hesitant to order seafood this far from the ocean, this worked out well: six large tiger shrimp were perfectly cleaned and cooked, and served up with a very enjoyable, lightly smoky mezcal-based cocktail sauce. A solid opening to the dinner.

While located in the basement of another, larger pub, Blind Lion has it’s own menu, mostly of lighter pub fare and a couple of house special dishes. Carol opted for the rosemary lamb. Served up as a pair of seasoned lamb chops with brussels sprouts and fingerlings, this was a very well-composed dish: a nice rosemary-heavy rub on two perfectly-cooked lamb chops, and a nice bed of veggies. We’d happily try this dish again.

Myself, I was a bit peckish from our earlier outing, so I went with a simpler main course: the mushroom Swiss burger. While sounding a little plain, this was actually quite well executed: made with locally-source beef, cheese, mushrooms, and a house-made ketchup. So while nothing fancy, this was surprisingly good.

Overall, I liked Blind Lion quite a bit. They’ve got solid ambiance, good cocktails, friendly staff, and reasonable pub food. I’d definitely like to go back and try them on a busy night, and maybe check out one of their occasional musical acts. But it’s definitely one of Rapid City’s gems.

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