Chow’s On! Best Grand Canyon Dining

Dine where presidents once supped or grab fried chicken to go at these casual yet enticing Grand Canyon eateries.

By definition, national parks are out-of-the-way places, and therefore, dining options are limited. The Grand Canyon is no exception. There are a handful of Grand Canyon restaurants to choose from, ranging from elegant and expensive to casual cafeteria style. However, you’ll be a happier camper if you abandon delusions of finding the next great chef here and instead focus on getting a table with a fabulous view and plenty of ambiance. With this in mind, here are my favorite Grand Canyon dining options in the park, categorized by location and then listed in order of preference.

South Rim Dining

El Tovar Dining Room

By far the finest dining establishment in the park—and the only one on the South Rim that takes reservations—the El Tovar Dining Room is housed in the historic 1905 hotel of the same name, perched perpendicular to the canyon rim. The Dining Room is all about the Old West, designed with rough-hewn pine logs and native stones, and was said to be one of Teddy Roosevelt’s favorite restaurants. Expect upscale cowboy favorites for dinner, like the juicy strip steak, served with a pile of buttermilk-cornbread-battered onion rings. Park regulars will tell you that this is the best breakfast in the canyon, with regional specialties like polenta corncakes served with prickly pear butter and blackened trout and eggs.

Reservations are accepted six months in advance—and if you’re visiting during summer or spring break, this advanced planning is essential. Request a window table—although these are not guaranteed. If you can’t get a table inside, check out the outdoor veranda (open seasonally), which serves drinks and appetizers.

Bright Angel Restaurant

Located behind the Bright Angel Lodge, the Bright Angel Restaurant is a tidy, casual dining space that specializes in truly delicious southwestern specialties like fajitas and fish tacos, and also offers a wide selection of salads, pastas and sandwiches. Leave room for my favorite dessert: the hot apple grunt (warm apples topped with granola and ice cream). It’s a rewarding way to replenish the calories you’ve burned from hiking the canyon. Be sure to arrive here early in order to avoid a long wait during the busy season. Also onsite is the Bright Angel Fountain, which serves ice cream and snacks alongside the canyon rim (closed in winter).

Arizona Room

Grand Canyon’s Arizona Room in the Bright Angel Lodge is a wildly popular sit-down restaurant, especially in the summer, thanks in part to its proximity to the canyon. The dining room is pleasantly basic, often noisy, and always perfectly appropriate for those still sporting hiking shorts and T-shirts. Hearty fare like spoon-tender beef brisket and baby-back ribs with prickly pear barbecue sauce are better bets than the somewhat bland salads and sandwiches.

Canyon Café at Yavapai Lodge

Grab burgers, pizza and fried chicken in this cafeteria-style venue. Eat in at the communal tables or pack up the food to go. The Canyon Café is open at 6 a.m., so you can enjoy a hot breakfast and still hit the trails before the crowds.

Maswik Cafeteria

Located in the Maswik Lodge, this is another, somewhat nondescript cafeteria-style eatery, with selections nearly indistinguishable from the above-mentioned Canyon Café. The Maswik Cafeteria serves wine and beer, and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Canyon Coffee House

For those of us who can’t start the day without an eye-opening cup of coffee, the Canyon Coffee House, located in the Bright Angel Lodge, offers up shade-grown organic coffee and a variety of specialty espresso and cappuccino drinks. You’ll also find muffins, scones and fresh fruit to take with you.

In the Canyon

Phantom Ranch Canteen

Available only to those who venture down into the canyon overnight, this rustic eatery serves up equally rustic grub in a convivial atmosphere. Reservations at Phantom Ranch Canteen are absolutely required, and note that there are assigned seating times—if you are late, you will be shut out. The early dinner seating offers different fare from the late seating: If you want steak or a meatless meal (both served with side veggies and cake for dessert), book the 5 p.m. seating time; if you want a more casual hikers’ meal (e.g., stew served in a bread bowl), book the 6:30 p.m. seating. Breakfast is for early risers, with the first seating at 5:30 a.m. and a second at either 6:30 a.m. or 7 a.m. (depending on the season).

North Rim Eatery

Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room

The gorgeous high ceilings inside and spectacular views of the canyon and surrounding pines at the Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room, make it an elegant indulgence for a North Rim dining experience—and indeed, it’s the only in-park restaurant on this side of the canyon. Because of the high altitude, and the resulting weather that makes the entire area inaccessible in winter, the restaurant is open only from mid-May to mid-October—as is the adjacent lodge.

Breakfast and lunch buffets turn over patrons at a fast pace and get hikers up and out quickly. Reservations are highly recommended for dinner. Try the blackened cowboy steaks, served with creamy mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables, and save room for the fresh, in-season fruit pies.

Note: For reservations at the Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room, Phantom Ranch Canteen and the Canyon Coffee House, call 303-297-2757. 

Destinations: Grand Canyon National Park

Themes: Culinary

Activities: Eat

User Comments

For advance dinner reservations at Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim call: (928) 638-2611 or (928) 645-6865 The North Rim also has the Grand Cookout Experience where you can enjoy fun entertainment plus satisfying your evening appetite with a "Chuck Wagon" style dinner. Slow cooked beef brisket, roasted chicken, and freshly baked biscuits are just a few of the many tasty items on the menu. Guests catch a ride on the Grand Canyon Cookout Experience "Train" to and from The Cookout at the Lodge. The Grand Canyon Cookout Experience is specifically designed to be a fun highlight of your Grand Canyon memories. Children are encouraged to attend. To place your reservation, or to receive additional information visit the Grand Canyon Lodge front desk. This Cookout and Show starts daily at 6:30 p.m.