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The dining options at Zion are excellent. The Lodge restaurant and the several in the town of Springdale are all good. The only problem you have to deal with is a chronic staffing shortage at every one of them, which in turn causes erratic operating hours and long waits. This is a recurring problem which appears to have no solution. There is not enough housing in the canyon or the town for the high number of basic service employees needed by all the motels, restaurants, stores and businesses, and the nearest towns are too far away to commute. The only caution we would issue is that apparently no one in Utah knows how to make Iced Tea. We've tried it at a long list of restaurants and finally given up. Just order Lemonade instead.

The Zion Lodge restaurant, called the Red Rock Grill, is excellent. If you've eaten in several lodge restaurants run by Xanterra, the menu here resembles theirs. There's always the Vegetable Soup plus a very good Soup of the Day, the excellent Rainbow Trout, the Black Bean Cakes and the Tenderloin Medallions. There's a Sirloin Steak, the Grilled Chicken and a Pork Chop. The House Specialties here at Zion are the Navajo Taco and the Pa'Rus Pasta. The Taco is Navajo fry bread topped with chili, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, onion, cheese, guacamole and salsa. The Pasta is stuffed with basil, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, artichokes, asparagus, pesto sauce, and cheese. At lunch there are several sandwiches including a Bison Burger.

Blondie's is the best lunch stop in town. It has a staff of only two, the owner and her daughter, so service may be slow. But the food is worth waiting for. The Elk Burger is great whether you eat it as a sandwich or set the bread aside and just eat the meat. Elk is lean and sweet. Salads here come in a bucket and are delicious, certainly the best in town. One of these Salads can easily feed three. You can order Buffalo, Brisket or a Navajo Taco. The String Fries are good, as is the Coffee, although in the Summer heat you'll probably opt for the Lemonade, which is housemade and delicious. The Pesto Salmon, Pan Seared Chicken, Turkey Club Sandwich and Key Lime Pie are definitely worth ordering. You can eat out on the porch (seen to the left in the photo) or inside if temps are over 100, which at mid day they usually are. Hours here are precarious, since if either the owner or her daughter need to be elsewhere they have to close. Parking is a problem, since the small lot has only one entrance, but don't let it deter you. When it's open this is definitely one of the best eateries in town.

Oscar's has long been a popular Springdale hangout for climbers, hikers and canyoneers. Tourists have now joined the crowd. Expect about a 30 minute wait. The menu is basically Mexican. Oscar's is famous for its Quesedillas, which are the size of Pizzas and could feed three, and the Pork Chili Verde Burrito (slow cooked pork, tomatillos, three cheeses, homemade salsa and sour cream), which could feed two. The Tuna, Salmon and Portabello Avocado Salads are great after a hot day in the park. Major Mexican entrees are the Enchiladas, Flautas, Burritos and Tamales. More traditional entrees include Pork Chops, BBQ Ribs, Shrimp Tacos and Salmon. There are 12 Burgers and seven Sandwiches. For Breakfast the menu featurs three really good Omelettes, a Breakfast Burrito, or Huevos Rancheros. Oscar's has misters running along the eaves to add a touch of humidity to the dry desert air if you sit outside, or you can wait a little longer for a table in the air conditioning. Parking is tight but there's another lot across the street and ocassionally a few spots on the street. While you wait for a table watch the birds come to sit on the pipes and cool off in the mist spray.

Bit & Spur is a Southwestern/Mexican restaurant that invites you to wait for your table out back, where there's a fountain, nice lawn, shade trees, and various chairs and benches. The Bit & Spur is famous for its Carnitas Stew, Sweet Potato Tamales (containing chili, pork, tomatoes, tomatillo salsa, guacamole, queso fresco and mayocaba beans), Rellenos (Anaheim Chili stuffed with jack cheese, tomato green chili sauce, mayocaba beans and rice), Brie Quesadilla With Walnut Pesto, Three Enchilada Combo, and Sopes (little ravioli sized pasta pouches filled with chicken, beef, pork or mushrooms, lettuce, pico de gallo, avocado and chipotle). But if you're not into Mexican, there are other entrees, including three kinds of Steak, one Fish entree, and Baby Back Ribs. We particularly like their Chile Rubbed Ribeye. Or you could pick from three Salads, two Pasta dishes, the Shrimp Tacos or the Chili Verde. If you're into mixed drinks, you must try the Spicy Jalapeno Margarita. They also offer a great housemade Sangria. In High Summer season, figure on a 30 minute wait. Bit & Spur offers Utah's largest craft beer selection. Go early for dinner because by 6:30 you'll face at least a 30 minute wait.

The Spotted Dog has a great front patio for outdoor dining if it's not 110 degrees. If it's too hot, the inside is tastefully decorated with paintings and windows look up at the towering rock formations. Signature entrees are the Wild Game Meatloaf (Elk, Buffalo, Beef with red peppers, onions and potatoes), Grilled Rocky Mountain Trout (with wild rice and berries), and Vegetarian Forage (wild mushrooms, red peppers, spinach, garden vegetables and wild rice). Salads include Mixed Greens, Field Greens, Classic Caesar, Mediterranean with Chicken, and Chicken / Gorgonzola. There are four excellent Pasta entrees : Spaghetti with Meatballs, Shrimp Pasta, Pesto Pasta With Chicken, and Purses Filled With Fresh Pear and Ricotto Cheese. Finally, there's Braised Lamb Shank, Tuna Steak, Beef Short Ribs, and Chicken Breast With Avocado and Mango Salsa. The Coffee here is outstanding. This is also a fine Breakfast stop en route to the park. They serve Breakfast Burritos, Quiches, Parfaits, French Toast and Steel Cut Oats. Plan on a 30 minute wait for dinner and none for breakfast.
King's Landing is inside the Driftwood Lodge. It's a very upscale bistro that might be a little too formal for most hikers and canyoneers. But this is very good eating. Appetizers include Spanish Charred Octopus and Elk Carpaccio (thinly sliced and served raw). Signature items are their Tofu Cassoulet, Lamb Ragu and Pork Porterhouse. Other entrees include the King Salmon, Roast Chicken Breast, Black Angus Beef (usually served as a burger but you can get it without), and the Daily Steak Special. The Charcuterie tray includes Duck Pate, Rabbit Loin, Black Truffle Salami, Onion Mustard, Gorgonzola, Seasonal Jam and Sourdough Bread. You can top all this off with one of their Puff Pastry Tarts. This is a small, intimate place good for quiet conversation. It also has the advantage of there not usually being a wait.
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