El Tovar


The El Tovar Hotel is the granddaddy of Grand Canyon Hotels. Opened in 1905, it is situated right on the rim of the Canyon. Oddly, though, despite its spectacular location the guest rooms don't have Canyon views. I recently stayed there for a night with my wife and youngest son. Although the hotel is undergoing some refurbishing of the lobby, it remains expressive of its history and place, filled with old-style timbers and trophy mounted heads of Grand Canyon wildlife of days past. Our room, a deluxe 2 Queen bed room was comfortable, albeit otherwise un-extraordinary.


The restaurant was actually decent considering it doesn't really have to try too hard. For the most part the food was pretty good. I asked the waiter for a recommendation. He suggested the roasted half duck with citrus marmalade glaze. There wasn't anything else on the menu, I found more appealing, so I followed his advice. Fearing that the glaze would be too, too sweet, I asked for it on the side, a request they honored without difficulty. Happily, the sauce was not too sweet and had good balance. Applied conservatively, it added nice flavor, but still let the perfectly cooked duck shine through. Unfortunately the accompanying roasted poblano black bean rice was rather pedestrian though. What I didn't understand at all, was the presence of some tasteless asparagus on the plate. In late November? In a hotel that supposedly prides itself on its environmental program? It might have been forgivable if the asparagus were good, but these were absolutely tasteless. The rest of the meal, including a Caesar salad that preceded the duck was acceptable as was breakfast the next morning.


While the restaurant certainly deserves some criticism, I was still pleasantly surprised that it was better than it likely needed to be and considering the location and food transportation costs, relatively reasonably priced. I doubt there are too many better alternatives in the area (unless one drives out to Cameron!)


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3 Responses to El Tovar

  1. Sounds like a fabulous trip. Ceasar salad, so old school, and still sooo good.
    I know what you mean about the asparagus. Everyone pays lip service to ‘seasonal’ because it’s trendy, but what IS seasonal around the Grand Canyon this time of year?? It’s a sharp blade to balance on.

  2. John Sconzo says:

    I dont expect them to be local, Judith, but seasonal should at least be within the continent. Asparagus is a spring vegetable. The Grand Canyon was anything but spring-like then. I wouldnt have even brought it up if the hotel was not making such big points about its level of environmental concern every where else. Clearly, they have to bring food in, but they can bring it in from nearby California, if not Arizona.

  3. Hotel Kortet says:

    EL Tovar hotel is more then 100 years old. food is good.

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