Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dining In Utah

In no particular order, we'll run through some of the surprisingly good dining establishments we found in our tour of southern Utah. We're not too sure how to define 'Utah cuisine' and expected to find a lot of frozen pizzas and pasta-alla-Boy-Ar-Dee. We were wrong!

Above is Zion Pizza & Noodle - the best joint in Springdale. Green chile as pizza topping! Chocolate Confusion cake! And the staff seemed happy to be working there.

The Kiva Koffehouse is not well-pictured here -- you'll get a better idea of how niftily built it is on their website. We had a tasty, solid breakfast here and a better than we expected dinner of turkey and potatoes and chicken enchiladas along with some absolutely yummy breads. And more dessert.

Here are a few things overheard at the Kiva:
"Which table can we view petroglyphs from?"
". . . as the oppressors."
"This is the year I'm going to make an effort to enjoy hearty soups."

Okay, we didn't get a meal at The Trailhead Cafe, but we did enjoy a raspberry muffin.

Georgie's Cafe is a Mexican restaurant in Escalante that looks like somebody's house. Their chicken enchiladas were better than the Kiva's. And, as we said before, the food here is overall better than you would expect -- and tastier than the better known Bit & Spur in Springdale. You can sit on a big drum if you like.

Escalante Outfitters has something for everyone. Pizza, espresso, hiking boots, whiskey, quad maps, head lamps, salads, wireless internet, lodging, books, floppy hats, carabiners, magazines, camping stoves, and berry cobbler. The pizza here is, again, better than you would expect. Good crust. Just the right amount of cheese. And no backtalk.

Cowboy Blues looks a lot like many mediocre to terrible midwestern restauraunts that have too extensive menus and really bland food. But! The steaks are amazingly good! And huge! And they had fresh bumbleberry pie! They're having a Halloween buffet. You should go.

The New York Times and other foodie literati have raved about Boulder's Hell's Backbone Grill for a while so you may have heard about them. They whip up schmancy dinners using locally grown ingredients. No small challenge considering their location in dusty, dry, non-agricultural location. We had a breakfast and a dinner there, and liked it so much, we bought the teapot. Best potato pancakes ever. Best black pepper biscuits ever.

And now to the ultimate culinary find of our jaunt. The nearest major airport is in Las Vegas, so we decided to give the In-N-Out burger chain a shot to and from the runway. We hadn't heard much about the quality of the food, but we were intrigued by the not-so-secret menu where you can theoretically order a burger with 8 patties and 16 slices of cheese. We didn't, but the burgers taste like burgers should taste. Beefy. And the french fries are made with potatoes. We witnessed a giant russet go from potato to golden fry in 60 seconds. Why anyone puts up with McDonald's and the rest of the un-fresh faux-food is a mystery. This stuff is good and not as unhealthy as you would think. And, like Zion Pizza & Noodle, the kids who worked there seemed to get a kick out of their jobs. So, if you're in SoCal or CenCal or SoNev or AllAriz, place your order and enjoy how the classic American fast food meal should be.

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