We'll be staying at the Wawona Hotel, hiking and driving in the immediate area and to the valley floor, western side of the park, possibly along the Tioga Road (just opened for the season!). What are the best chowhound options for dinner? Wawona has a pricey menu, and I'm always wary of "fine dining" at places with a nearly captive patronage but perhaps it would be worth the convenience. The menu at Erna's Elderberry House looks a little overwrought, with $95 prix fixe. Tioga Mobil Gas Mart, on the other hand, looks like a hoot. Any opinions regarding these or other options gratefully received.
Just an FYI, Erna's Elderberry has an a la carte menu now. It looks as if it's more wallet-friendly.
Erna's in Oakhurst and the Tioga Mobil on Hwy 395 aren't considered to be in the immediate area by any means. The Ahwahnee has a nice brunch on Sundays and the Wawona does a BBQ lunch on the lawn on weekends (Sat and Sun, iirc).
If you're staying in the Valley, your options are very limited. Camp Curry has a food court, which has really mediocre grub - the pizzas, as I recall, were at least edible, and looking at the other food, we were glad we went with the pizza. There's a bar there that makes really good Bloody Marys. I had two of them, virgin style, after a long hike to get some salt and water in me. They use these spicy pickled green beans, and a generous dollop of horseradish. Those were easily the most chowish thing I had there.
I haven't ever stayed or eaten at the Wawona, but a friend who was just there for a week recently reported that the food was good. Given the long distances to anywhere (it'll probably take you more than two hours or more to get to the Tioga Mobil, for example) I'd say it probably is worth eating at the Wawona at least some of the time.
If you are going to the western part of the park (Hetch Hetchy?) than look into the possibility of dinner in Mariposa one night. (about an hour from the Valley. Do NOT make the mistake of believing Google that you can get there from Wawona via the Chowchilla Mountain Rd: it is closed and dangerous). Anyway, if you do go to Mariposa (which has some attractions such as a mining museum and a few nice antique stores) try Savoury's for dinner.
To the OP: make sure that Tioga is open...I drove past it on 395 Monday and all the signs said it was closed...so if its opened it literally opened yesterday or today.
I have eaten at Wawona, and that's probably your best bet. They do an outdoor barbque some nights., as I believe someone mentioned.
I usually do a lot of picnics when I'm in Yosemite.
Unless you're heading to the Eastern side of the park (Tuolo\umne Meadows, Bodie, Mammoth, June Lake, etc.) it's probably not worth heading to the Tioga Pass Mobil Station. If you are going to be around there then go for it because it is quite good.
There's a restaurant at Yosemite Lodge near Yosemite Falls that's actually pretty good and not horribly expensive (although not cheap either). There's the nice (and expensive) restaurant at the Ahwahnee as well.