I just got back from a trip to the great parks. Let me tell you the parks are great the food is not. But here is what i found, for what it's worth.
I stayed in St. George at the green valley spa while I was visiting Zion. Beautiful luxury rooms with private patios (pretty expensive, but worth it)
You are hard pressed to randomly find a non chain restaurant. We went to someplace called Famous Daves BBQ which looked like it might not be a chain, until we walked in and saw the decor. It was obviously out of a box. The food was passable, and you got a ton of it. Typical, liquid smoke in the BBQ sauce (which they sell) etc. A few different heat levels and sweetness levels. Not trerrible, but not great.
Irmitas mexican Food "the hotteset spot in town" a small parking lot Mexican restaurant serving tacos, tortas, burritos, and platos: they had carne asada, chile verde and carnitas. It wasn't bad, though I expected the chile verde to be a little more than carnitas with a tiny bit of green salsa stirred in. The refried beans were good (but no lard) the tortillas were not handmade.
Right outside of Zion:
Tsunami cafe (why do people name businesses after killer waves?) a wrap and sandwich place with some decent ingredients and you can have any of the sandwhiches as a salad (just ask for it without the bread.)The dressings aren't homemade but they aren't cloying either.
Springfield fruit company: I guess an organic orchard, though nothing from the orchard was in season. Also a small healthfood store/juice bar. slow service, but they had organic cheese, natural salami, hummous etc, which we bought and ate for lunch a few days running. They had a baked goods line called Barbaras, that seemed homemade-ish with a decent granola.
In springdale there was a place professing to have "famous bumbleberry pie" of course I went in. the first of many disappointing "homemade" pies. This one was actually the best of them with a tasty filling and possibly a homemade crust but the crust was completely flavorless, and, as usual, underbaked on the bottom.
Stayed at the Buffalo Sage B and B: breakfasts were pretty good. Weak coffee, but all these restaurants in Utah seem to have this Italiano espresso maker so you can get an ok coffee.
Hells Backbone grill: boulder Utah a beautiful 1 and a half hour drive from bryce area. a much touted (written about in NY times etc) restaurant run by refugees from Flagstaff arizona.They try to be organic and local, probably pretty hard in southern utah. The food was decent, though slightly over done. The black peppper biscuits with sage butter were my favorite thing. Moist and tender with a little kick from the pepper. Goat cheese fondue was unremarkable. meat loaf using local beef was tasty byt the chipotle cream sauce they served with it overpowered the flavor of the meat. served with lemony mashed potatoes? steamed green beans, and broccoli, grilled fennel and carrotd with herb butter. i thought the vegetables were nicely done. We also had trout (pink and thick) with a bluecornmeal and pecan crust (the crust was a bit thick)the sides were a rice dish with pine nuts, corn and red peppers. and the same vegetables. Dessert was apple pecan cake with homemade vanilla icecream. It was more like apple pecan crunch, like the topping of a crumb pie with barely any cake involved. It was tasty, but I like a little more cake in my cake.
Most of the family restaurants served salads. they weren't great, but nice to get your vegetables on a daily basis, and they are huge, usually enough for two people, especially with the homemade bread they usually serve (soft white roll-like bread). Homemade mashed potatoes were pretty common but always served with package gravy.
good homemade candy at Clarkes in Tropic: fudge, caramels, chocolate covered divinity etc.
Plenty of "homemade" pie around. don't fall for it, it is canned or frozen filling with packaged pie crust, thrown together and baked (and not for long enough either) in house. ALWAYS a dissapointment.
Grand Canyon: Stayed at the Lodge at sedona:Fancy big breafasts touted as 5 courses. Homemade granola and yogurt, a fruit course, juice, coffee, and a main course like a frittata or something. the food wasn't great but it was nice to sit on the patio and eat and they are very nice. they also serve a late afternoon snack, and lemonade and coffee and tea. The place is quite lovely.
the food in sedona...It was hard to get a grasp, they have a terrific healthfood store with an organic salad bar and a deli with lots of prepared foods. That is where we ate. It was good. they are open until 9pm which is pretty late, so after hikes you can pick stuff up.
We went to scottsdale too, but I will make another posting for that.
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