From the right spot on Fremont Street, it’s possible to witness a strange sunset ritual. Helicopters appear on the horizon, hovering in a perfectly straight line on their way back to Las Vegas from the Grand Canyon. For most people, the Grand Canyon is a bucket list item symbolizing the greatest of great American road trips, the ultimate sight to see. For Las Vegans, it’s just a few hours away.
Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, once said, “Scenery is a hollow enjoyment to the tourist who sets out in the morning after an indigestible breakfast and a fitful night’s sleep on an impossible bed.” Fortunately, at the Grand Canyon, it’s possible to get a satisfying meal along with one of the best views in the world.
Whether a journey to the Grand Canyon calls for a trip to the South Rim, the North Rim, the West Rim or some other point, these five restaurants are worth trying.
Fine dining in a historic hotel
Vacationing at a national park doesn’t have to mean hot dogs over a fire every night. For a true fine dining experience on the South Rim, the historic El Tovar Hotel’s dining room offers 100 varieties of wine with a focus on Arizona vineyards along with classic continental dishes. Diners can expect charcuterie, Arizona-raised filet mignon, roasted duck and a dessert cart that’s worth saving room for.
El Tovar Dining Room, El Tovar Hotel, Grand Canyon Village, Arizona; 928-638-2631
A locally focused menu
The South Rim’s Arizona Room, located at the Bright Angel Lodge, is the ideal choice for travelers who want to dine as the locals do. The menu features Southwestern, Navajo-inspired dishes such as pozole verde soup made with pork, hominy and green chili and oven roasted native squash with heirloom bean stuffing. Arizona-brewed beer is always on draft.
The Arizona Room, 9 Village Loop Drive, Grand Canyon Village, Arizona; 928-638-2631
That post-hike beer and burger
If that last mile on the Bright Angel Trail inspires visions of beer and burgers, the Harvey House Cafe, located just footsteps from the trailhead, has got the fix. The casual cafe is the place to sit and enjoy an Arizona-grown Angus beef burger on ciabatta, a turkey burger with avocado or a veggie burger on wheat along with a cold Grand Canyon IPA or Grand Canyon Pilsner. Salad, soup, wraps and specialty entrees complete the menu.
Harvey House Cafe, 9 Village Loop Drive, Grand Canyon Village, Arizona; 928-638-2631
A taste of the North Rim
Situated at more than 8,000 feet, the remote North Rim of the Grand Canyon makes up just 10 percent of park visitation numbers. For those who prefer a less crowded experience — coupled with the unexpected sight of a bison herd — the North Rim is the place to be. The seasonal Main Lodge Dining Room serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with a focus on hearty fare such as elk chili, bison short ribs, and Navajo tacos made with fry bread.
Main Lodge Dining Room, Highway 67, North Rim, Arizona; 928-638-8560
Something on the West Rim
After a stroll on the vertigo-inducing Grand Canyon Skywalk, a celebratory meal is in order. The Sa’Nya-Wa’ is located so close to the Grand Canyon Skywalk that it might as well be — but fortunately isn’t — right on top of it. The Sa’Nya-Wa’ is the only full-service restaurant at the West Rim and offers an eclectic range of American, Native American and Asian specialties including quinoa and kale salad, pad Thai and chicken mole.
The Sa’Nya-Wa’, Eagle Point Road, Peach Springs, Arizona; 702-220-8372