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road trip thru the southwest

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My sister and I and three of our adult children will be taking a July road trip that will originate in Santa Cruz, California, linger in Montana, then continue on to South Dakota (with the Black Hills as the major destination), then wander back to California via Wyoming or Colorado, Utah and Nevada (we have more family in Las Vegas), and returning to Santa Cruz through through Southern California. We're traveling cheap and light (probably camping most of the way) and I wonder what highlights might be along the way. I have no idea what our route will be (or whether we'll try to fit Idaho in at all) nor do we know how long we'll be in any one area. I know we have 14 days. We're still in the planning stages. So I'm hoping to discover some destination restaurants that can kind of focus our meanderings.

I would love to know of any unique places that serve good and/or interesting food at a reasonable-to-cheap price with local character. I'm a big fan of trying regional far, oddities included, and supporting local economies.

I've got California & Vegas covered for food experiences, but I'd love advice about the southwest.

This will be our first trip through this area for all of us and the first time we've all traveled together as adults....so it should prove interesting in many ways.

Thanks in advance for any and all advice and/or comments!

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  1. Assuming you will be traveling through Utah on I-15, here are some places to consider:

    Maddox - outside Brigham City, north of Salt Lake. Not cheap, but a good value, and uniquely Utah. The fare leans towards meat as the stockyard is right next door. They also have a drive-in with yummy burgers depending on time and schedule.

    In Salt Lake proper, the best places are the ethnic gems: Red Iguana for unique Mex, Mazza (2 locations) for the KILLER Middle Eastern (Lebanese) fare, Thai Garden and Settebello for Neapolitan pizza that is to die for. All are mid-priced (entrees no more than $15) and represent a good value.

    If you are through downtown in the morning, stop by Les Madeleines and get Kuong Amun if there are any left. The most delectable baked good I've yet to put in my mouth.

    If it's lunchtime and Friday, Pat's BBQ is the number one choice as they sell their burnt ends at that time. Get there at 11 or don't bother.

    South of SLC the pickings get a bit sparse. Arshell's in Beaver is a quirky diner that is famous for their pies. Been there for breakfast which was just fine. There's the Top Spot in Cedar City, a good burger drive-in joint with a more than acceptable green chile cheeseburger. In St George about the best place for an inexpensive meal any time of day is The Fairway Grill. There's also Irmita's, a funky little taco shack that is not bad.

    2 Replies
    1. re: GroovinGourmet

      St George, Utah: The Painted Pony is a great little cafe on St George Boulevard in Ancestor Square. They serve lunch and dinner. Great. Portobello sandwich, burgers for lunch. A more elaborate (and expensive) dinner menu is also quite tasty.

      For breakfast/brunch: The Bear Paw cafe is also on St George Blvd about a block from the Tabernacle. Very good pressed sandwiches, quiche, eggs.

      Coffee/snacks: Jazzy Java on Bluff Street. Good espresso, etc.

      1. re: AnnBR

        I'm in St. George this weekend. Will have to give Bear Paw a try. Painted Pony menu looked pretty nice the last time through.