When you are visiting the Badlands National Park, the only place to eat for miles is at Cedar Pass Lodge. So it is a good thing they had a reputation for making excellent Sioux Indian Tacos. I figured we had to try it for ourselves. We were not disappointed!
Although the taco started as a Mexican dish, it is now such a mainstay of American culture and has appeared in non-Mexican versions. For example, Native Americans have the Indian Tacos and Korean Americans started the trend for Korean barbecue tacos.
Sioux Indian Taco
The Sioux Indian taco at Cedar Pass Lodge is a sizeable portion of food. The base is a plate-size portion of Indian fry bread. The refried beans, bison beef, lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese and olives toppings create an open-faced taco. You get sour cream and salsa on the side. I felt full even without finishing my frybread.
The Sioux Indian Taco is pretty much like other Indian tacos but is made with bison meat. Bison meat is really tasty and leaner than beef. When you are consuming this many calories, every little bit helps!
The frybread is what makes the Sioux Indian Taco really stand out. Frybread is the state bread of South Dakota. The main ingredients of frybread are flour, water and salt. The dough is then fried in some sort of fat like lard or oil.
Frybread is supposed to have started during the “Long Walk” when the American army forcibly removed thousands of Navajo from Arizona to New Mexico in the 1860’s. The Native Americans were given rations of flour, salt and sugar which was very different from their usual diet of vegetables and beans. The Native Americans made do and created frybread. The rest, as they say, is history.
Frybread isn’t the healthiest option. Typical fry bread has about 700 calories and 27 grams of fat per serving. Some critics have blamed frybread for the diabetes epidemic in Native American populations.
Frybread and Indian tacos are standard fare at Native American pow wows and festivals. Despite the tragic provenance, frybread has been embraced by Native Americans as part of their cultural identity. There is even a National Indian Taco Championship held in Oklahoma.
On our Western Road trip, I came to appreciate bison meat in the form of bison burgers and the Sioux Indian taco. My family and I are big fans of tacos and the Sioux Indian tacos at Cedar Pass Restaurant got enthusiastic thumbs up from all of us.
Information for Visiting Cedar Pass Lodge
Cedar Pass Lodge is located in the Badlands National Park of South Dakota. The restaurant is open from April through December from 8 AM to 6 PM with longer hours during the peak summer months. It is located on SD-240 a few miles from the Northeast entrance.