My neighborhood grill and bar: Grille 26

The first meal Megan and I ever had in Sioux Falls was at the old Spezia in the Park Ridge Galleria back in 2005. We were interviewing for jobs at the Argus, so I don’t remember anything about the food (I was more concentrated on making a good impression on Patrick Lalley and Janet Kittams-Lalley in hopes of landing a job).

I also wasn’t thinking, less than a year later, we would be buying a home just a few blocks away, officially making Spezia our neighborhood go-to hangout.

I always ordered the spaghetti and meatballs (or sausage). I think Spezia did a good job with the basic dish, and some of the other things on the menu didn’t sit right with me (sweet apple pizza that everyone liked just wasn’t for me).

But I still consider the 2009 change to Grille 26 an upgrade. The bar area is great, warm and welcoming (they have big screens for sports too), and the food has been clever and seasonal basically from the beginning.

There is a fairly large standard menu, but there is always a slate of seasonal offerings that I appreciate. Right now, it’s the summer menu. It runs through Sept., so you still have time to catch one or two of these if you’re interested.

Turkey & Brie Sandwich (above, bottom): Great flavor with the melted brie, roasted turkey and Granny Smith Apples on a cranberry wheat bread. It was a bit dry, however, and could probably have used a cranberry jam or sauce to punch it up.

Thai Shrimp Tacos (second from bottom): These I really liked. Shrimp glazed in a soy ginger vinaigrette, rolled up with chopped cashews, snap peas, scallions, carrots and cabbage. You get three of them with a little peanut dipping sauce. I begrudgingly shared two of them with the table, and was THIS close to ordering another plate. Some other time…

Chicken Putanesca (top): A salty and flavorful pasta dish. Spinach fettuccine, Parmesan, roasted tomato, garlic, capers, Kalamata olives and crushed red pepper. Whew! This alone would have been a great plate of food and fully enough for one belly. But there is also a charbroiled chicken breast on top! I get that most people want a meat with their meal, and adding chicken breast is a time-honored pasta and salad tradition (how many Caesar salads do you know that DON’T offer this as an option?), but I thought it was unnecessary here. The pasta was good, the chicken just okay and I ended up avoiding it actually.

Black and Blue Bull Bites (Regular menu item, second from top): I’ve heard people rave about these, but had never had them, so I ordered them up for an appetizer. The people are right on this one; this is some fun, cheezy-goodness-added, chislic that I will be ordering again. Blackened steak, cubed, served with fries and a glorious Gorgonzola cream sauce that only could have been better if it came in a ramekin twice the size.

If you haven’t been to Grille 26, or haven’t in awhile, I’d give it a shot. They have a nice, half-price apps and pizza Happy Hour and some solid beers on tap.

Maybe it’ll become one of your favorite neighborhood haunts too.