South Rim meal options range from hot dogs to fine dining. Leave your white tie at home, though; dinner is a casual affair at Grand Canyon, and a clean shirt and jeans will do just fine. All the lodges in the park except Thunderbird and Kachina have their own restaurants or cafeterias, and Tusayan boasts fast-food chains, steak houses, and several options in between.
With the exception of El Tovar, you won’t need reservations, but the wait can be long during peak hours. Room service is available at El Tovar.
Inside the Park
Restaurants and Cafeterias
Without a doubt, the El Tovar Dining Room (dinner reservations 928/638-2631, ext. 6432, eltovar-dinner-res-gcsr [at] xanterra [dot] com, breakfast 6:30-11 a.m., lunch 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., dinner 5-10 p.m. daily) is the finest dining inside the park. Dinner reservations fill up quickly and can be made up to six months in advance by hotel guests with a reservation or 30 days in advance without room reservations.
Breakfast can be as simple as a pastry ($5) or as hearty as one of the chef’s Southwestern egg specialties ($12). Lunch selections include soups, salads, sandwiches ($6-12), and entrées ($10-15). The dinner menu includes appetizers, soups, and salads ($6-14) as well as entrées ($18-31) highlighting organic and sustainable items. A perennial favorite is the Wild Alaskan Salmon Tostada ($25). Half-portions are offered for children at discounted prices. The wine list has a wide range of choices by the glass or bottle, with many sustainable selections.
The adjoining El Tovar Lounge (11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily) offers light fare indoors or on the veranda. No reservations are necessary, but you might have to wait for a table. It’s not only one of the best spots in the village to sit back and people-watch with the canyon as backdrop, it’s also the kind of place travel writers think twice about divulging.
Bright Angel Lodge offers several dining options. The Bright Angel Restaurant (928/638-2631, 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m. daily, breakfast $2-11, lunch $4-9, dinner $4-15) celebrates Harvey Girl history on its menu, where you’ll find traditional comfort food along with regional specialties. If you want atmosphere, try to get a table in the narrow ell with mullioned windows overlooking the canyon. Next door, but with its own outdoor entrance, Bright Angel Fountain (hours vary, spring-fall) tempts people off the Rim Trail for ice cream cones, hot dogs, and other light fare (under $5).
The Bright Angel Bar (from 11 a.m. daily, closing time varies by season) serves up refreshing beverages and salty snacks in a casual atmosphere. Canyon murals cover the walls, and on summer evenings you might catch some live Western or folk music. If you overindulge and fall asleep at your table, you’re in luck: The bar transforms into the Canyon Coffee House in the morning (hours vary, open seasonally), serving coffee and pastries.
The Arizona Room (928/638-2631, lunch 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. daily Mar.-Oct., dinner 4:30-10 p.m. daily Mar.-Dec.), also located in Bright Angel Lodge, is a classic Western-style steak house. Lunch offerings ($5-13) range from soup and salad options to burgers and barbecue. Dinner highlights steaks, chops, and ribs ($12-26), but vegetarians can opt for the roasted vegetable-and-black bean enchiladas ($15). Beer, wine, and cocktails are available; margaritas are a specialty. Reservations aren’t accepted, and sometimes the wait list is lengthy, but you can spend the time browsing the lodge’s history room or gift shop.
Maswik Cafeteria (928/638-2631, 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily, under $10) has five food stations to help lines move quickly. Selections include hot and cold breakfast items, burgers and sandwiches, pasta, and Mexican cuisine. The adjoining pizzeria (noon-11 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 3-11 p.m. Sat.-Sun.) sells pies ($17-23) and slices ($2) to eat in or take out. A pub atmosphere takes over in the evening, with beer, wine, and TVs tuned to sports events.
The Canyon Café (928/638-2631, usually 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily, hours vary by season, under $10) at Yavapai Lodge serves up family favorites like pizza, burgers, fried chicken, and a salad bar. The cafeteria-style restaurant and lodge close for a few weeks each winter, usually in January.
In Market Plaza at Grand Canyon Village, the General Store’s Canyon Village Deli (928/638-2262) serves up salads, sandwiches, fried chicken, and more at a counter at the front of the store. You can sit and eat at the tables or order something to go. Most entrées are less than $10, and it’s cash only. You’ll note a lot of locals eating here, including park rangers. Check the store aisles for ready-to-eat picnic fare and smoothies.
The Hermits Rest snack bar (9 a.m.-sunset daily), located at the end of Hermit Road (West Rim Dr.), is convenient when the overlooks and Rim Trail have tempted you into lingering longer than you planned. For a couple of bucks, you can get a cold or hot drink and a snack to sustain you until you get back to the village.
Frankly, most of us would choose the Desert View Trading Post Snackbar (928/638-2360, usually 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, hours vary by season) only out of convenience, but for those camping at Desert View, this counter-style deli is a blessing. Sandwiches, pizza, and hot breakfasts are available for a few bucks.
The General Store (928/638-2262, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily summer, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. daily winter), located in Market Plaza at Grand Canyon Village, sells groceries, picnic supplies, and everything you need to cook at your campsite, from stoves to firewood to fully loaded s’mores kits.
Desert View Market (928/638-2393, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. daily summer, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily winter), near the East Entrance Station of the park at Desert View, is a bit smaller, but if you’ve forgotten something for your cooler or campsite, you’ll probably find it here.
Outside the Park
Tusayan exists merely to serve Grand Canyon travelers, and you’ll find numerous dining choices here. For quick meals on a budget, Wendy’s (928/638-6484), Pizza Hut Express (928/638-4629), and McDonald’s (928/638-2208) are all represented in Tusayan, along with local options like a couple of Internet cafés and Carvel Ice Cream and Bakery (125 E. Hwy. 64, 928/638-0101).
If you crave something spicy, Sophie’s Mexican Kitchen (Hwy. 64 across from IMAX, 928/638-4679, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily, $5-17) serves favorites like burritos and quesadillas.
Three local hotels offer buffet or off-the-menu breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, including JJK’s (406 Canyon Plaza Lane, 928/638-2673, $8-26) inside the Canyon Plaza and the Western-themed Canyon Star (149 Hwy. 64, 928/638-3333, $8-28) at the Grand Hotel. The best bet and a longtime local favorite is the Coronado Room (100 Hwy. 64, 928/638-2681, $20-30) at the Best Western Squire Inn.
Tusayan’s midsize grocery, the General Store (928/638-2854), also sells souvenirs, RV supplies, camping gear, and firewood. Look for it on the east side of Highway 64.
In Valle, 20 miles south of the South Rim at the junction of Highways 180 and 64, the Grand Canyon Inn (928/635-9203) has a reasonably priced full-service restaurant, serving American-style food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The adjacent gas station and convenience store has snacks and sandwiches to go. Fred’s Diner (928/635-2600, 6 a.m.-8:30 p.m. daily summer, shorter winter hours), located across the highway in the Flintstones-themed campground, has sandwiches and burgers.
Cameron and Gray Mountain
If you’re traveling to the canyon from the east, the Cameron Trading Post (1 mile north of the junction of U.S. 89 and Hwy. 64, 928/679-2231 or 800/338-7385) is a must-stop. It’s more than 50 miles from here to Grand Canyon Village, with only the Desert View Snackbar standing between you and hunger pangs. If you want to fill up before a long stretch of sightseeing, the trading post restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner—mostly traditional American selections, along with some tasty Southwestern fare. What you won’t find on the menu is alcohol: The trading post is on the Navajo Reservation. Breakfast and lunch are inexpensive to moderate, but you can go the whole hog at dinner ($8-23) with steak, shrimp, or prime rib. The enormous Navajo taco ($10) is made with fry bread, a favorite of regional-food junkies. A children’s menu is available.
If you’re in a hurry to get to the park, the convenience market inside the trading post has snacks and sandwiches to go as well as a decent selection of groceries and supplies for locals and campers.
Simpson’s Market (928/679-2340, 6 a.m.-9 p.m. daily summer, 7 a.m.-8 p.m. daily winter), located in Cameron at the junction of U.S. 89 and Highway 64, is a full-service grocery with a deli serving up sandwiches and other items.
The Anasazi Inn at Gray Mountain (42 miles north of Flagstaff on U.S. 89 near milepost 457, 928/679-2214 or 800/678-2214) has a restaurant that serves breakfast ($5-8), lunch ($7-13), and dinner ($15-25) either buffet-style or from a limited menu. Beer, wine, cocktails, and package liquor sales are available. Hours vary by season. Box lunches can be arranged, which you can enjoy at one of the East Rim’s viewpoints, an hour or two away.
© Kathleen Bryant from Moon Grand Canyon, 5th Edition