Watecha Bowl is a Native American restaurant in Sioux Falls
I can sum up what I know about good food in two sentences.
First of all, great food is where you find it. Second, good food not only fuels your body, it can also fuel your mind and spirit. These two rules were highlighted during a visit to the Watecha Bowl for lunch on a bright summer day.
Native American owned and operated, the Watecha Bowl focuses on Native American style foods. Watecha Bowl recently made the transition from a strictly brick and mortar food truck. I say strictly food truck because as I understand it Watecha Bowl still operates a small fleet of food trucks for catering concerts and special events. The brick and mortar location is at 2305 W. Madison Street. It is in the heart of the West Sioux district. Not on the west side. Not exactly North End. West Sioux, steps from the intersection of Madison and Burnside.
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The West Sioux neighborhood has always intrigued me. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see proof of a small community that existed within the larger community of Sioux Falls. Much like the communities of Dundee or Benson in Omaha, these were places where people found small grocery stores or stores that met most of the daily needs of residents. But, alas, the commercial development and overall expansion of the big city has not been favorable to the small West Sioux neighborhood, and it shows. The dream âif we build it, they will comeâ from the so-called sports and entertainment district remains elusive.
But there are signs of an exciting new activity and the Watecha Bowl is certainly one of them.
So what’s the food here? Good question. The short answer is, we’re talking about a fried bread extravaganza. By fried bread, I mean dough disks made with flour, baking powder for a little rise, sugar for a hint of sweetness, and milk or liquid to hold it all together. The discs are patted and fried until golden brown in shortening or some other form of fat. Magically delicious in itself, fried bread is also the basis of many delicious dishes. Let go of your carb aversion and let Watecha Bowl show you the possibilities.
For example, place a fresh burger and a slice of cheese with the usual toppings in a piece of hot fried bread and you have a Big Indian Burger. Or, go with buffalo or even a vegan patty. Add fries. (I said there would be carbs.)
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Put ground beef or buffalo on fresh fried bread with grated cheese, diced tomatoes, black olives, lettuce, salsa and sour cream and now you have the famous Indian taco.
If you have time for a four-hour nap after your meal or if you’re planning on running an ultra-marathon, you can get the buffalo roast, which consists of shreds of braised roast on a scoop of mashed potatoes. placed on a piece. of, you guessed it, fried bread.
You might also stumble upon a chislic special made from pieces of fried buffalo or venison. When we were there the special came with fries. And fried bread.
Fried bread also makes a good dessert. It can be rolled in cinnamon and sugar or torn and dipped in wojapi, a sauce made with fresh berries.
Whatever you get, make sure you have a large cup of powwow lemonade to wash it off.
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Now, let’s tackle the question some people might have about programming like this and what makes it particularly native. If you look closely at the Watecha Bowl’s advertisement and menu, you should understand that their menu items are basically what you find at rodeos or powwows. I’m not talking about the PBR events at Premier Center. I mean rodeos in places like Mission, Eagle Butte or Pine Ridge ie reservations. It is the fair food of the Indian country. Think about it. Fried bread and funnel cake are pretty much the same thing. This is exactly the taste experience that the Watecha Bowl will offer you.
For me, the fried bread was also a great food for thought. The Lakota people were not known for their grain milling skills. On the other hand, history is replete with evidence and examples of the ingenuity and resilience of the early occupants of these lands. And, if you’re perfectly honest, a lot of the events that make up what we call history weren’t exactly kind or native-friendly, to say the least. Frybread has roots in this story. The ingredients came from an allowance of flour and other ingredients. In other words, a commodity. Like many great dishes, fried bread started out as a survival food that grew into a cultural superstar.
Personally, I am convinced that fried bread has magical properties. It is absolutely impossible to eat fried bread and feel bad at the same time. Don’t take my word for it. Go visit the Watecha Bowl on West Madison, or locate one of their food trucks. See what fried bread can do for you.