The Grand Canyon is one of the greatest natural monuments in the country, if not the entire world. While the Grand Canyon is indeed without a doubt a great natural wonder, the restaurants within the Grand Canyon cannot exactly said to be five-star establishments. Xanterra has an essential monopoly on all lodging and food within the National Park, as can be seen through all of their stationary within the lodging. While I am sure that the National Park Service has their reasons for choosing to award the concession to Xanterra, a little competition would be nice for everyone.
When I visited the Grand Canyon in late July of 2009, the park was extremely crowded despite the warnings of a large thunderstorm moving through the area. All the good viewing positions were completely occupied and only the advent of rain and lightning drove people away. As everyone sought shelter from the downpour, my family and I did the same. Seeking the path of least resistance, we eventually came to a restaurant.
We ended up near the Arizona Room Coffee Shop near the Bright Angel Lodge. When we first arrived, we were told to wait a few minutes until our table could be readied. One of the reasons we chose the Arizona Room was that the restaurant had windows opening to the outside world and has some of the best views compared to the other restaurants. Unfortunately, the tables with the window views were too small for parties larger than six people. As such, my family then had to sit in one of the interior and larger tables. Because of that experience, I would advise anyone visiting the Arizona Room to either come in smaller groups or be ready to miss out on some excellent sightseeing time while you are enjoying quality food.
My family included two children, ages 10 and 12 respectively, so they received children’s menus. These menus came along with them some oddly shaped triangular crayons (so that they wouldn’t roll off the table) along with crossword puzzles and coloring books to amuse the children. Having been seated, we then realized some of the inconveniences of the restaurant. There were no restrooms within the Arizona Room itself, so people had to leave and go to the nearest restrooms in the hallway.
The wait for the food was actually rather long, not at all what we originally expected. It didn’t help that our waiter wasn’t exactly professional. While he was certainly friendly and outgoing, he lacked a deal of professionalism. I got the sense that he was simply a college student working at a summer job, like many of the other workers.
We ordered a mixture of the house steak, prime rib, chicken breast, salmon, trout and fajitas, as well as a quesadilla. The prime rib meal was undoubtedly the most expensive of them all, but it wasn’t the best out of the various meals. The trout especially did not live up to promise – it was both dry and tasteless. The salmon dish was as dry as the trout, but had a bit more taste due to the sauce. The chicken breast as well as both the fajitas and the quesadilla were mediocre, with only the house steak being of anything appetizing. If you want the best, I would recommend the house steak.
The Arizona Room actually had a interesting selection of deserts, but since everybody was too full to eat any more, we did not order dessert.
Overall, the Arizona Room is a pretty decent restaurant with above-average high prices.