Traveling from Las Vegas to the heart of the Mojave Desert feels like leaving civilization for Mars (there’s a reason why Star Wars was shot in Death Valley). It may only be a two-hour drive from Las Vegas, but Death Valley National Park’s undulating badlands, golden sand dunes, and windswept mountains that soar more than 11,000 feet above the white salt flats below give the 3.4 million-acre park an otherworldly feel. While a trip to the desert wilderness feels far out both literally and figuratively, there’s no need for travelers to subsist on trail mix alone. In true desert oasis fashion, these restaurants in and around Death Valley offer cold beers and hearty meals to the weary desert traveler — and none of them are mirages.Read More
Where to Eat When Visiting Death Valley National Park
The best restaurants inside and outside the sprawling desert park
Located in Death Valley’s remote western edge, this tiny desert outpost offers outdoor seating with views of the distant Panamint sand dunes and a surprisingly huge craft beer selection. The menu typically features burgers, pizza, and salads, but is subject to change.
In the era of the California Gold Rush, stomping into a saloon in cowboy boots made sense after a long day. The Badwater Saloon, located at Stovepipe Wells in the heart of the park, hearkens back to that time with dim lighting, a mirrored bar, and an oftentimes lively crowd. Diners can sip prickly pear-infused margaritas and eat goat cheese-stuffed dates, pulled pork quesadillas with lime crema and burgers topped with chili.
Last Kind Words Saloon & Steakhouse
In 2018, the Ranch at Death Valley (formerly the Furnace Creek Ranch) got a glitzy makeover, and with it came The Last Kind Words Saloon. Longtime Death Valley visitors will recognize this as the location of the former Corkscrew Saloon, a dive bar that was known more for its pizza than its ambiance. This new incarnation feels more like the set of Westworld — think taxidermy, wooden accents, and antique guns. The menu includes steak, ribs, prickly pear-glazed salmon, chili, burgers, and plenty of whiskey to go around.
The 19th Hole
Death Valley is home to lots of surprises, but perhaps most surprising of all is one unique resort amenity at the Oasis at Death Valley: a golf course. The lowest golf course in the world isn’t just a great place to practice one’s swing, it’s also the site of The 19th Hole, a seasonal outdoor restaurant serving burgers, beers, and excellent views of coyotes stealing balls on the golf course.
Coffee & Cream
This casual restaurant at the Oasis at Death Valley serves a small menu containing salads, wraps, wings, pizza, and a few barbecue items. This is an ideal place for takeout after a long day of hiking in the desert. Diners should note that the hours here are limited and subject to change based on the season, as is often the case with restaurants inside the national park.
The 1849 Restaurant, which is a reference to the California settlers who crossed the harsh desert to seek gold in 1849, is located at the Oasis at Death Valley amid the charming Western village of the ranch portion of the resort. This casual spot is open for breakfast and dinner. It offers breakfast staples — baked goods, eggs, and bacon — and a salad bar and carving station in the evening.
The Inn Dining Room
The Inn at Death Valley (formerly known as the Furnace Creek Inn) exudes Old Hollywood glamour from its perch on a desert slope. Located inside the 1930s treasure, The Inn Dining Room serves as a retreat from the rugged surroundings, where Death Valley explorers can savor an evening of fine dining and California wine. The menu features classic American fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a focus on desert-inspired ingredients such as dates, prickly pear and fresh avocado.
Happy Burro Chili & Beer
The Death Valley gateway town of Beatty surprises with wild burros wandering the streets and whiskey drank out of a Mason jar. To experience it at its most authentic, desert connoisseurs should spend some time at the Happy Burro Chili & Beer. True to its name, the cash-only saloon serves spicy chili and cold beer along with burgers, hot dogs, and plenty of conversation.
Tecopa Brewing Co.
Just east of the national park (though it may feel quite a bit further than that given the dizzying effect of remote desert travel on twisting roads with low speed limits), the tiny town of Tecopa draws travelers in with hot springs, palm trees, and a surprising number of restaurant options. One highlight: Tecopa Brewing Co. Located at Delight’s Hot Spring Resort, Tecopa Brewing Co. has the ideal desert trifeca: barbecue, beer, and outdoor seating. After a day of hiking or a long desert drive, there’s nothing like a soak in natural hot springs followed by pork ribs, beef brisket, and homemade ice cream for dessert.