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Aug 29, 2007 11:58 AM

El Tovar at the Grand Canyon.....Just ok....

Has anyone else had a mediocre experience at El Tovar?

Went to visit friends that live at work at the Grand Canyon this weekend and went to El Tovar for dinner. I was very excited and had been looking the the menu for a few days, so by the time I got there....I knew what I wanted.
While the apps and martinis were very good, my entree fell short. VERY short.

I ordered the beef tournados with a roasted garlic truffle demi-glace and duck pate.
I was expecting too much, maybe. My demi-glace was more like a heavy gravy and totally overpowered and ruined the dish. It was inedible. at $31.00...I made a stink and had it taken off the bill. Not to mention that the food was only warm when it got to the table.

Our friends who live up there said they have had the same experience a couple of times.

They redeemed themselves at breakfast the next day.....sort of.
I ordered the florentine benedict and my eggs came out with the yolks hard. The waitress asked me if I wanted them poached soft...I said no, I wanted them poached. There's only one way to poach an egg.
It was fixed and it was yummy.

Anyone else have strange experiences up there?

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  1. We stayed there one night in May 2006, and had dinner and breakfast the next day. Dinner was mediocre - a shame, since the room is so lovely. I think their aspirations and/or pretensions exceed the ability to execute. Breakfast was much better, although honestly I don't recall what we ate for either meal. I don't think our room was worth it, either. But I don't regret the experience, as I'm unlikely to duplicate it.

    1. I've had one superb dinner at El Tovar and one merely average one. I think that part of the problem is that chefs may rotate in and out frequently. It would be hard to live long term at Grand Canyon Village, especially with a family, so I don't think a talented chef is likely to stay for several years at a time. It may be luck of the draw.

      1. Though it's been a while, we had two very lovely (surprisingly so) meals at El Tovar. I do not have notes on the dishes, but both evenings were great. The wine list was not bad, either, considering that they are in a National Park. Sorry that your meal was not up to par. I have recommended, them, based on older dining. Maybe I need to re-evaluate.


        1 Reply
        1. re: Bill Hunt

          I was disappointed by the food a number of years ago, and it sounds as if it hasn't improved. Is it possible to go for a drink and an appetizer, or dessert, before or after the peak dinner hour and just enjoy the ambiance? Problem is, of course, that there's nothing much better around.

        2. I worked at the Canyon a couple of years ago and I got everything for 50% off. Still, the only food we considered halfway decent was the fried chicken at the Yavapai Lodge cafeteria.

          Someone was cooking Korean food at a diner in Tusayan just south of the park, only one or two days a week. I never got to try it, though, and don't know if it's still going on. Tusayan would be an awesome location for a good Asian restaurant, considering the enormous amount of Asian tourists and the poor quality and overpriced food served at the Canyon and Tusayan restaurants. Of course people don't go to visit the Grand Canyon as a culinary destination!

          1. Dinner is expensive, and hit or miss (remote location, rotating staff....not to mention the logistics of getting fresh food here everyday). My recommendation..breakfast. The dress code is relaxed, prices are lower, and the elegance of the place really gives a good start to the day. The hot chocolate is the best we've ever tastes like melted chocolate bars. It arrives at your table steaming hot, in a silver pitcher. A couple of cups of this and you'll forgive everything else.