Grand Canyon dining question

Mar 21st, 2006, 07:41 AM
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Grand Canyon dining question

We will be staying at the rim of the canyon in mid June. I would like to have one dinner at El Tovar, and would like recommendations for what the best time is. I'm conflicted as to whether to be sure to be done before sunset, to get a great rim location, or whether we would want to be at dinner for it. Any recommendations?
LoisL is offline  
Mar 21st, 2006, 08:05 AM
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My wife and I are also going to be there in mid-late May, and had the same exact dining-time question. We'll have the opportunity to catch 2 sunsets there, guessing that they are both so valuable that we'd want to hit dinner either before or after?

ALSO - wondering what the dinners are like at the less-expensive Arizona Room and Bright Angel Dining Room (name?) Are all 3 "fancy," or will jeans and a nice shirt/shoes be fine for all 3?
Mr_Senor is offline  
Mar 21st, 2006, 08:46 AM
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I've just read, on Fodors dining site, some very negative comments about El Tovar, from recent visitors. Now I'm wondering if we even want to include this in our plans!? I'm thinking, perhaps we should plan to do breakfast there, to experience it, and yet not regret pricey dinners, if the food is disappointing. Anyone who has been there recently with an opinion?
LoisL is offline  
Mar 21st, 2006, 10:14 AM
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We stayed at the El Tovar a couple of years ago . . you have to remember that you are eating at a Federal Park , ,

We had two diners in the dining room and enjoyed both . . food was good and service was average . . decent wine selection . . nothing to rave over, but nothing to complain about either.

Options for dining in the park are limited, I consider El Tovar to he the best.

We had one breakfast in the dining room and it was good.

You will not be able to see the sunsets from the dining room, so we timed dinner for after sunset . . You do have to book ahead . . the farther ahead the better.

We got up early for sunrise and it was perhaps more impresssive than the sunset. We watched both from in front of the hotel, at the canyon rim. In the morning we were joined by the deer that roam the park. . nice suprise!

Hope this helps . . Rich
Rich is offline  
Mar 21st, 2006, 10:33 AM
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Agree with Rich. There are deferring opinions on El Tovar, but I was glad we had a meal there just to experience it. Depending on where they seat you, you may not have a view of the rim. I called the restaurant and asked them when the earliest date was that we could make reservations and they also told me what time the sunset was supposed to be on that date. It isn't too early to call (may be too late). We had dinner after the sunset and it was just like another restaurant. I liked our breakfast better, because it was light out and you could see the canyon.

Mr Senor -- I don't think we took anything but jeans with us. Definitely don't have to dress up to eat anywhere.
maj is offline  
Mar 21st, 2006, 03:43 PM
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I'm sure denim is more than acceptable at all national parks, there is nothing fancy about any of the Grand Canyon restaurants. El Tovar windows are on the smallish side and you will be lucky if you see anything, but the room is really nice, historic and picturesque, so you should be happy, I'm sure.
desertduds is offline  
Mar 21st, 2006, 04:02 PM
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I'm curious about this place myself. The recent (last few months) reviews on Tripadvisor are atrocious---poor quality food (like canned soup, wilted lettuce, etc.), poor or indifferent service, and bad seasonings/combinations for the food. We have dinner reservations in April, but am wondering if we should consider something else. The Arizona Room?
enzian is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2006, 12:49 AM
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Agree with Rich. You have to remember you are dining at a national park. I've stayed at the rim all the 4 times I've visited the grand canyon. El Tovar, although nothing to rave about (food wise), it's the best you can find there. Unless you are willing to drive the so many hours to a town, you are not going to get any better. The dining room is nice, very log cabin(ny) feeling but there are little to no really great views of the canyon from the dining area (The whole property sits at almost the edge of the rim but there is a rather wide lawn area form the dining area of the building to the actual rim trail). I would suggest to reserve dinner for after sunset. Besides, sunsets at the grand canyon are magical and breath taking. I remember my first sunset there. I was so amazed at the beauty, I held my breath for a long time forgetting to breathe. I can't imagine expecting to want to do anything else but watch, really. I also agree, sunrises are more spectacular.

Jeans are the norm and are expected. We even went straight from a hike to dinner so still had on hiking boots and it was perfectly fine.

I've had breakfast and dinner at the Bright Angel lodge restaurant. Both are fine. Food-wise about the same quality as El Tovar although the latter TRIES to be more upscale and gourmet(ish)so the selection is slightly different.

Having said all of that, I would've regretted not having dinner at El Tovar. It's part of the whole experience...

Hope that helps.
maria_so is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2006, 03:38 AM
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South Rim dining options, as mentioned above, are limited. There is a steak house in lower level of Bright Angel lodge - we ate there 2 years ago and had decent basic American grilled meat, etc. Service was fine - if it were not at Grand Canyon probably would not have chosen it as a place to return to, but no real complaints - meats were done as ordered, water glasses filled, service efficient, etc.

There is a coffee shop in Bright Angel - think they serve Breakfast and lunch. Ate one breakfast there. Not impressed - usual tourist-area over-priced breakfast items, although some attempt was made to give them interesting names and touches.

Somewhat back from Rim is a cafeteria - the kind with multiple food stations (sandwich, pasta, etc.). Also serve breakfast items and take-out. This was actually better than coffee shop if you pick carefully. Great to pick up a bagel, piece of fruit, OK coffee in AM.

Then there is El Tovar. We had one memorable dinner there - but only because of the atmosphere. It was in the middle of a violent summer thunderstorm, complete with vivid lightening, frequently flickering lights, teeth-rattling thunder - that combined with dark wood, historic nature of setting made it incredible. Lots of deer grazing outside window as well. But I have no memory of what we ordered, so it must have been average (if it was wonderful or horrible I would have remembered)

These are only options I remember - anything else is outside Park and at least 20-30 minutes away. On way out of Park I remember a long strip with chain hotels, so I doubt fine cuisine is to be had there either.
gail is online now  
Mar 22nd, 2006, 09:30 AM
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Thanks to all for the personal experiences. I do plan to make a reservation for El Tovar, but have decided to go with breakfast instead of dinner, and do that after sunrise.
LoisL is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2006, 02:54 PM
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I was just there a week ago and ate at Bright Angel restaurant and Arizona Room (also in Bright Angel Lodge). Both were fine as far as food goes but VERY slow. We almost missed our shuttle to South Kaibab trail and we'd been there an hour (for breakfast). We sat right down but it took forever for someone to take our order and even longer to get the food.

Connie is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2006, 05:47 AM
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Dinner at Bright Angel Lodge restaurant was fine. See "Back from Arizona: trip report.")

Ozarksbill is offline  

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