Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Restaurant Review: Exploring the depths of Caverna Coffee & Bistro

Nathan Feller
Caverna Coffee & Bistro in Whitewood, S.D., focuses on providing innovative, locally sourced food and beverages.

Walking into the dimly lit, small, but strangely cavernous building you will immediately set your eyes on a restaurant with a story. With crystals, geodes and rocks abundant, and plants littering every surface, the dining room of the restaurant will give you the slow, dark comfort of an industrial mineshaft reclaimed by nature. Work by local artists covers the walls and gives a sense of community in the cozy town of Whitewood, SD. 

Turn to your right and you will be greeted by the welcome faces of the two owners of Caverna Café & Bistro, Luke and Cheyenne Larson, at a walk-up style bar, where you can then order from a copious menu of burgers, breakfasts and bagel sandwiches.

Not only does this cafe and bistro offer a creative selection of foods, but they also offer a wide assortment of drinks, ranging from a basic latte to unique beverages such as the mushroom mocha, made with reishi, lion’s mane, turkey tail and cordyceps mushrooms, along with cocoa, that was created in collaboration with local distributor, Black Hills Mushrooms. 

The owners of Caverna stay true to the area, and they do their best to celebrate and appreciate local businesses. 

Though they appreciate their local distributors, they have an extra sense of gratitude for their native Whitewood customers.

“We have locals that are in Whitewood that consistently support us daily,” Luke Larson said. “We’re extremely appreciative of every one of them.”

While they have strong emotions towards their regulars, they also take exceptional care with their new, out-of-town customers as well.

Recommendations, small talk and even ignoring the pick-up counter and bringing your order all the way to the table, when they’re not packed full of eager customers, shows that these business owners pay close attention to what will satisfy their customers.

They take care of their customers all the way down to making sure to ask if you’re okay with dairy milk–an extremely helpful addition for a forgetful lactose intolerant person like myself.

With an iced, sweet matcha latte and a hot, spiced dirty chai on the way, both with oat milk, my guest and I sat at one of their adorable, mushroom-themed tables with charming, mismatched furniture. 

I admired the festive Halloween decorations alongside their routine plants and rocks. Witches sat in corners of the room, looking down upon patrons, and skeletons were playfully hung on nooses from ceiling. 

Our drinks arrived and I quickly appreciated the creamy-textured matcha. Just enough sweetener was added to make the subtle, grassy flavor of the tea pop and truly balance with the nutty notes of the oat milk. 

The spices in the chai perfectly complimented the roast of their fresh espresso, and the silky, steamed oat milk brought a comforting warmth that called to frosty winter nights by a crackling fireplace.

Once the food came out, I was watering at the mouth. First came the Honey Jalapeno Popper Smashburger, topped with a flavorful and sweet raspberry-jalapeno infused honey, house pickled jalapeno, and a dollop of cream cheese, set on a fluffy, slightly sweet brioche bun to finish. Served with a dill pickle spear, which will always be a win in my book, and kettle chips on the side. The kettle chips were on the forgettable side, with little to them that necessarily caught my attention, but the burger itself was so packed with flavor that it was extremely forgivable.

The biscuits and gravy that I was lucky enough to wrestle away from my guest to taste were delightfully filled with chunky Dakota sausage and elevated by a generous garnish of tangy, spicy mayo, upon recommendation by Cheyenne. The sausage and the mayo combined to form a chorizo-inspired flavor that gave me an entirely new appreciation for the Midwest classic, which was a common theme throughout their diverse menu.

An item called the Kewsabi Cucumber Smashburger particularly caught my attention on this front, the burger being an Asian-American fusion dish featuring a wild combination of both feta and Swiss cheese, kewpie and wasabi mayo, Korean-inspired gochugaru cucumbers and nori.

While I wasn’t able to try this burger this time around, as well as many of their other items on the menu that looked to-die-for, I will be taking the drive again to expand my understanding of this restaurant. I would say that Caverna is absolutely worth the trip.

About the Contributors
Taylor Sanfilippo, Food Critic
Nathan Feller, Editor-in-Chief