Restaurant Recommendations for
Travelers in the Western United States
We can all agree that meals on the road can be an issue as to both quality and value. Obviously we are all different and have different culinary preferences so it is challenging to attempt to pass along any worthwhile recommendations, but I am going to try anyway...
Before I get into it, please let me establish my bona-fides - I operated a 70 top oceanfront restaurant that aspired to the label of "fine dining" in a tourist destination for several years. I know how difficult the restaurant business is and am under no illusions as to how hard it is to do everything right all of the time for all of your customers. Quality is a rapidly moving target and it moves every minute of every day.
I will not say anything about bad food, bad service, or bad experiences. You will have to find those kinds of things on your own. My rating system is very simple, does not involve stars, and reflects my own opinion and nothing more. If you are on the road you need information about where to get a decent meal. I'll tell you about the restaurants that I have found over the years and I will rate them as adequate, good, very good, or excellent and I will give you the date of my most recent experience in that particular establishment.
I will also try to tell you if I think that the meal was reasonably priced or on the expensive side. Here we get into some difficultly again. How does one compare the cost and quality of a simple meal in a remote area for hikers against the price of an exotic dinner for the swells at a prestigious restaurant in a major urban center? Also, what is the definition of "expensive?" This is the point where I get into very serious trouble. I count myself to be a middle class American (whatever that is). Breakfast in an acceptable restaurant costs me about $12.00. I don't eat a lot of lunches when I am on the road, but when I do have a sandwich and a beer at a nice place it is hard to get away without paying less than $15.00. Dinner is more difficult to price. If I am traveling alone, a hamburger, fries and beer will sometimes suffice and will come in under $20. If I have company with me, dinner including a bottle of good wine can get pretty expensive pretty quickly and can easily top $100 for two.
I do not always eat in standalone restaurants. Sometimes I am in the mood for a good steak at Outback, a taco at Chevy's, or a hamburger (and milkshake) at In-and-Out. I am not including the chains in this list because I presume that you already know all about them and have your own favorites.
I enjoy both beer and wine, but for several reasons including economics, I probably consume more beer than wine. Breweries usually have more extensive food selections than wineries so you will find more brew pubs than wineries in my list. I am allergic to most things that come out of the ocean and so you will not find any good seafood restaurants on my list. Other than my problem with fish, I relish all manner of culinary styles.
Having said all of the above, here is the start of my list of restaurants
that you might consider when you are wandering around this part of the world.
24th Street Cafe, Bakersfield, California
breakfast, very good food, reasonable pricing. 2/2005
Ahwanee Hotel, Yosemite, California
dinner. very good food, expensive pricing, 6/2010
Albion River Inn, Albion, California
dinner, excellent food, expensive pricing. 2/2010
Betlenut Restaurant, San Francisco, California
lunch, very good food, expensive pricing. 4/2010
Bovine Bakery, Point Reyes Station, California
light breakfast, excellent bakery goods, reasonable pricing. 5/2005
Briar Rose, Breckenridge, Colorado
dinner, very good food, expensive pricing. 12/2008
Cafe Diablo, Torrey, Utah
dinner, excellent food, reasonable pricing. 6/2010
Cameron Trading Post, Cameron, Arizona
breakfast, good food, reasonable pricing. 6/2007
Dahl & Diluca Ristorante Italiano, Sedona, Arizona
dinner, excellent food, expensive pricing, 1/2011
Egg & I, St. George, Utah
breakfast, good food, reasonable pricing. 1/2011