The term “opera” may spark thoughts of stuffy high-note performances, but it’s anything but at this downtown gathering place. Locals swing in for the comfy couches, piping hot coffee and light meals at the Coffeehouse or duck through the brick archway to Charley’s for its lunchtime burgers or drinks and dinners.
Our timing wasn’t right, but you might be lucky and catch local musicians jamming in the spacious brick lounge or catch the bands that spill outdoors in the summertime when the street may be blocked to cars and the barbecue is smoking.
No matter what brings you here, it’s a gathering place and point of pride in the community. The actual Opera House is on the second floor, and visitors can ask to take a peek at it. Used for private and special events, it’s been restored to its 1889 glory with lush lakeside murals, stencils of fauns marching across a chandelier alcove and the Pied Piper leading a line of children.
Most of the action these days is on the lower level where comfortable couches, tables and nooks in the Common Ground Coffee House make it ideal for light meals and breaks mid-morning or mid-afternoon with steaming coffee, iced drinks and South Dakota State University ice cream and a variety of pastries. Archways lead to Charley’s, which serves sandwiches and burgers, including the popular Oh My Goss burger with bacon, fontina, guacamole and chipotle sauce for lunch.
We tried shrimp and sirloin on Charley’s dinner menu. The sweet potato fries were a bit on the greasy side, and the vegetables were blah, but the meat was tasty and the crisp dinner salad came nicely accented with a housemade champagne vinaigrette dressing. If you’re there on Tuesdays, look for the date night specials with two of everything—house wine, entrees and dessert—for $36.
The biggest draw here really is the setting. Food and live music offers a good excuse to wander among brick-walled rooms and wooden floors that creak with character.
Charley's for dining: $15-$35 for dinner