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Best (non-chain) restaurants around the Grand Canyon,AZ

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  • Pezzy Mar 17, 2009 10:32 PM
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I'll be traveling from Torrance, California to the Grand Canyon for four days during April to be a tourist. What are all the must try restaurants (tourist and hole in the walls)? I'm open to trying all sorts of cuisines! Also, any stops on the way to AZ would be helpful. I know i'll be taking the Interstate 10 for a good chunk of the way, my route isn't all planned out yet. Thanks =)

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  1. To be honest the eats around the entrance to the park and within the park are very slim. We usually pack food and have a picnic when we're up there. Can't beat the scenery as a dining room. Haven't eaten at El Tovar ourselves...reviews seem to be mixed. Have grabbed a meal at a couple of the other cafeterias in the park - nothing special at all. Last trip up we had dinner with some friends at the steakhouse outside the park (in the Grand Hotel). It was OK, again nothing spectacular. Really, the best meals we've had there we've packed in ourselves.

    If you travel through Sedona, stop at Cafe Elote for dinner(not open for lunch). This is definitely worth a stop.

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    El Tovar Hotel Dining Room
    Village Loop Drive and South Entrance Road, Grand Canyon, AZ

    cafe elote
    arizona, AZ

    5 Replies
    1. re: ziggylu

      I'm not sure if I'm stopping in Sedona but i'll make note of that. Cafe Elote, I know that means corn...is it Mexican food?

      Thanks for the heads up. I think I'm going to be around Flagstaff for part of the trip as well.

      Thanks so far!

      1. re: Pezzy

        Elote Cafe is indeed a Mexican restaurant. The place link below leads to a link for the restaurant's website where you can view the menu.

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        Elote Cafe
        771 State Route 179, Sedona, AZ 86336

        1. re: hohokam

          Does anyone know the cost of menu items at Elote? Their website doesn't list prices. Would you say this is the one must-try restaurant in Sedona in terms of local, healthy, organic, etc.?

          Also looking for good value meals in South Rim / Tusayan area of Canyon. We're on a low budget ($10 breakfast or lunch, $20 dinner) but healthy is preferable to chain fast food. OR where to buy ingredients for a great picnic?

          Finally, looking for that great cup of morning coffee in Grand Canyon and Sedona. Fair trade organic bird-friendly etc. is a bonus, but the most important part is freshly roasted beans and great latte/espresso. Thanks!

          1. re: Food Tourist

            We are staying at the Kings Ransom hotel in the fall and this Elote Cafe is at our hotel. I have heard it is a must try and I do love mexican. We will be at Grand Canyon and looking at the prices of El Tovar they do look high. Is the the price tag worth the quality and ambience?
            I have read several posts of travellers packing lunches for grand canyon rather then eating at carfeteria's

            1. re: Food Tourist

              <Would you say this is the one must-try restaurant in Sedona in terms of local, healthy, organic, etc.?>

              Yes, that's another reason why I'm such a fan of Elote Cafe. The chef-owner supports local, sustainability, and organic, cooking with high-quality ingredients. He uses local AZ products, like cheese from Fossil Creek Creamery in Strawberry and Black Mesa Dairy in Snowflake, and fresh herbs and vegetables from local Sedona gardens and farms. The menu also features antibiotic-free lamb, free range chicken, all natural pork, grass-fed beef, and sustainable seafood.

              Price wise - this is from a menu I have from a couple of months ago:

              Small plates run $6.50 for the elote, $7-8 for soup and salads, up to $11 for one of my faves - the hearty fundido de charro (melted cheese with chorizo, carnitas, mushrooms, and roasted poblano peppers, served with tortillas).

              Some entree prices:
              Smoked chicken and salsa verde enchiladas $17.00
              Colorado lamb shank adobo $21.00
              Puerco en cascabel (a favorite) $17.00
              Pepita-crusted wild Pacific snapper $18.00

      2. It has been 30 years since I ate at El Tovar so no comment about the food or the price. I will say the dining room and the building are spectacular and worth seeing.

        1. I was looking at a travel site for more ratings and reviews, and people seem to like Sophie's Mexican Kitchen in Tusayan. Any thoughts on Sophie's as a destination for supper?

          Also, any experiences at the North Rim dining room or cookout?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Food Tourist

            When I went to the North Rim two years ago, the food choices were pretty grim. The best food was at the Lodge. Here's the summary I wrote at the time:
            "The food at Grand Canyon's North Rim is not its strong point. Given limited choices, I might go back to the Lodge to eat, but I'd be tempted to either get a snack at the deli, or bring food to the park in a cooler...As at Bryce Canyon, a major criticism is the pretension of the restaurant. It tries to come across as a fine dining venue. It isn't."

            I seem to recall there's now another choice (perhaps the cookout to which you refer), but am not sure. Other than that, it's a looooooong drive to anywhere else.

          2. Ate at El Tovar last summer (after ascending from Phantom Ranch - so I was hungry). The food was decent, nothing chow-worthy. It isn't terrible, and somewhat reasonably priced. It is a classy hotel, and certainly a special place, but not a destination. They have a great deck, so maybe get a beer and snacks there, but I am not sure I would bother with much more.

            Bottom line, I would agree with everyone else - pack a picnic, and find a rock. The canyon is spectacular, and you should maximize your time there, looking at it (not eating in an old hotel).

            There is a grocery store within the park boundaries. It is expensive of course, but they have everything you could need. There was a full service deli attached to the grocery, that looked pretty good. It was busy, if that is any indication of its quality.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Booger

              I too have read about the mexican restaurant Sophies for good food but if your staying at a lodge it might be a waste of driving back and forth for dinner.

              I think we may cancel our dinner reservations at El Tovar maybe go for breaky and just eat at the lodge cafeteria.. Rather save my coin for a chowhounder favorite