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Reader Participation Day: Where Do You Find The Best Meals In, Or Near, The National Park System?

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When you visit Glacier National Park, don't miss a stop at the Park Cafe in St. Mary for a slice of pie!

Good food and national parks aren't always discussed in the same conversation, but there are some great meals to be had in the parks.

Places such as the Metate Room at Mesa Verde National Park or the Mammoth Springs Hotel in Yellowstone National Park can compete with many fine big-city restaurants.

But there are other lodge dining rooms that, well, still have a ways to go in terms of elevating their menus.

With that understood, which restaurants and meals in, or nearby, the national parks would you recommend to your friends?

For instance, I frequently recommend the Jailhouse Cafe in Moab, Utah, for breakfast before heading off into Arches or Canyonlands national parks, the Park Cafe in St. Mary, Montana, outside Glacier National Park lives by its motto -- Pie for Strength --, and when in Bar Harbor, Maine, during visits to Acadia National Park I've had some great meals at Cafe This Way.

So, what say you? What restaurants/dining rooms in, or nearby, national parks would you speak highly of? 

Comments

Cnnected:
Will definitly visit,Y_P_W ! Have visited Hog Island Oyster in Tomales Bay that has similar
Certainly an opportunity for people to become more connected (and appreciative) of our natural world and where food actually comes from. So much of the direction of many in the environmental industry seems to further separate the visitors from these type of experiences in the name of extreme preservation. Pretty sad for the culture to lose that connection. Not healthy in my way of thinking. I understand the need to preserve but in it's extreme it has very dark side effects.

  While I do enjoy the product from Hog Island, I have never used their picnic tables. They do provide a few things such as oyster knives and lemons, but they charge $10 per person and pretty much require reservations on weekends.

Tomales Bay Oyster is just down Highway 1 and doesn't charge for use of their picnic area and doesn't take reservations. I've noticed they are absolutely packed on weekends.

Drake's Bay Oyster Company is actually relatively quiet. Their retail operations are a small part of their business. They're huge with their business selling to markets and restaurants. I frankly like their location better than Hog Island or Tomales Bay Oyster, but the distance from Highway 1 is probably one of the reasons why there are fewer people there. If you want to go, of course try and make it before November. We don't know yet which way the decision is going to go on its future.


Will definitly visit,Y_P_W !  Have visited Hog Island Oyster in Tomales Bay that has similar 
Certainly an opportunity for people to become more connected (and appreciative) of our natural world and where food actually comes from.  So much of the direction of many in the environmental industry seems to further separate the visitors from these type of experiences in the name of extreme preservation.  Pretty sad for the culture to lose that connection.  Not healthy in my way of thinking.  I understand the need to preserve but in it's extreme it has very dark side effects. 


The Eggs Benedict at El Tovar and the beef stew at Phantom Ranch. The lemonade at PR is great, but we like to joke that we hike there for the stew.


Ed, they still serve that great cornbread at Roosevelt with the ribs?


In Yellowstone, we agree that Mammoth is one of the outstanding restaurants but Lake Hotel is equal, with a fantastic view of the mountains and lovely live music in the lounge.  Our other favorite is the ribs served only at Roosevelt Lodge. 


Hatteras village is in the confines of CHNS so maybe this counts.
The volunteer fire department serves fresh local fried bluefish or Spanish mackerel with tea (sweet tea or unsweetened) homemade coleslaw, potatoe salad and fried hush puppies every Saturday afternoon during the summer. I think the entire dinner is $8. Amazingly good food for the price, both local and visitors attend!


Oscar Blues brewery in Lyons, "near" Rocky Mtn National Park. 


Lee Dalton:
YP, do you mean I have to grow my own beans and hogs? Thanks, but I'll pass.

One of the most memorable meals I've had near a park was a couple of summers ago when I got to West Yellowstain very early so I could have a chance of snagging a campsite at Norris. I stopped at the McD's just across from the Grizzly Center. The breakfast burrito was still semi-frozen in the middle and I found a huge clump of long black hair in my mouth. (Twasn't bear hair . . . . )

When I went inside to inquire about a refund, I found that all the employees were RUSSIAN! No kidding.

This is one little old gray head who will NEVER stop at that particular Mickey's ever again.

   I wasn't suggesting growing your own. However, there are NPS sites that do just that. Slide Ranch in the Marin Headlands (GGNRA) raises lambs and probably grows beans. Maybe something special like goat sausage. It's really a teaching farm devoted to teaching about how farms work, but I'm pretty sure they do slaughter some of their animals.

But seriously - you'd buy your own shellfish right at the oyster farm. If you really insist, I think there are some NPS sites where it's legal to hunt feral pigs.

I've certainly heard Eastern Europeans in the most remote places. When we got breakfast in Gardiner, MT our waitress was Eastern European. Back in 2007 most of the employees at the Lodgepole store and snack bar in Sequoia NP were Russian. We even saw a large group of them taking the shuttle to get around.

And I have been to that McDonald's in W Yellowstone. Stopped there on the way out to head for Utah driving from the Tower-Roosevelt area. Didn't have the experiences you had, but they had no dollar menu and the prices were considerably higher than other McD locations (comparable to NYC). Even other McDonald's locations on our trip near NPS sites were normally priced - including the one in Jackson, Moab, and even Tusayan.

We made it as far as Price, UT that day. We also tried to find a restaurant that was open in Utah on a Sunday, which is not an easy thing.

As for dining in and around NPS units in Utah, we've had some doozies. I've talked about the total waitress meltdown I saw at the Bryce Canyon Lodge dining room. The food was fine, but there was a late lunch rush and only a single server for about a dozen tables. The server started slamming food down when people started complaining that they hadn't ordered yet or were waiting for their orders, then screamed out loud in the kitchen that she couldn't take it any more. The manager took over. We asked our busboy what the issue was, and he said that they didn't have enough staff that late and she just lost it.

That night we didn't feel like dining in the park, but Ruby's Inn seemed a little too hokey, so we headed to Tropic and ate at Clarke's. That's actually pretty nice even though it was a little place out in the middle of nowhere.


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