Considered the crown jewel of Historic National Park Lodges, the entire El Tovar hotel location on the canyon rim is a vantage point, including from the dining hall inside. It is the Grand Canyon’s only fine dining establishment, and because of it’s celebrated history, often books up for reservations months in advance.

But even the most exclusive restaurants (mostly) always have space for one.

I had to dine at 5pm to be squeezed into the reservation system, but jumped at the opportunity. Early dinner after the drive to Desert View it was.

The hotel itself was under construction during my visit, but El Tovar’s dining room of native stone and Oregon pine is pristine with an historic charm. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in panoramic views of the canyon walls outside, so ask (at booking) to be seated by the window if you have a chance! Native American murals line the walls and china, and the traditional southwest menu presents a history of the establishment to start your meal.


When you’re dining in a room that’s hosted the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Bill Clinton, Paul McCartney and multiple famed western authors, of course there’s a service standard to be expected. Dress code is enforced, the Wine Spectator-awarded wine list has more than 100 options and many of the well manicured wait staff have been on-site for more than 20 years.

The disadvantage of dining solo of course is that I didn’t get to sample as much of the menu or linger very long to enjoy the ambiance after the meal, but it was well worth experiencing. I happily enjoyed a roulades sampler and the quail with roasted red pepper sauce for an entree.

If you’re headed to the Grand Canyon, be sure to book your reservation up to 6 months in advance!

Images courtesy of El Tovar