It is the time of year that many folks head this way for a spectacular visit to Mesa Verde National Park. It is a great park, where you can see the way the ancestral puebloans lived over 1000 years ago.
We live in the area and go to MVNP often. We usually pack a lunch and picnic. This past weekend, we were there all day and decided to have dinner at the park. We had dinner at the Metate Room.
We have lived here for almost 4 years and had always heard that the food was really good, but somehow we just never got around to trying it. the chef from last year actually bought one of our local restaurants this year, so it is a new chef.
The room is lovely, with Native American theme, as one would expect. They do not take reservations, but this early in season, a table by the window was easy to get. The views are nice, looking over the mesa tops, not the bests views by far - those are elsewhere in the park.
Service was pleasant, though our server forgot to tell us about 1 of the evening specials [we heard another server tell the table next to us about the specials].
We started with a spicy shrimp cocktail with a prickly pear jam. It was nicely presented in a martini glass. The jam was sweet with a bit of heat, nice overall. It was $12 for what turned out to be 4 shrimp.
We got a basket of bread with a black bean hummus spread. The spread was good, but seemed to be missing something - cumin? The bread was good, foccaicia and some pita shaped bread.
We each got a nice dinner salad that had crispy tortilla strips on it with a bit of corn and red beans. It was clear they were trying to maintain a tie to the Puebloan culture.
DH had a stuffed poblano chile [similar to chile rellenos] with polenta and red chile sauce. It was one big chile, that was battered and deep fried. It was tasty. $18
I had a turkey napoleon; slices of heirloom tomatoes, red peppers, and turkey medallions with a cherry sauce. The sauce was excellent, the turkey, which was crusted, had no taste at all, veggies were good. $22
We did not have dessert, they brought a tray over with 4 different items on it. Nothing looked particularly appealing [visually] and not worth the calories, despite us hiking all day.
Overall, I think the food just missed the mark; it all seemed to need just a bit more spice, zip, flavor, I don't know, it just didn't do it.
Ironically, when we got home, there was a feature story in local paper about the restaurant and the new chef.
There are 3 options for dinner if you stay at park [camping or at Far View Lodge near the Visitors Center]. The Far View Cafe and Spruce Tree are casual; The Metate Room is much more upscale.
You can also dine in Cortez, which is a 10 minute drive from the entrance of MVNP [plus 35 minutes from Visitor Center to entrance of MVNP].