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Moab, Utah

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We were in Moab for a couple of days to play in Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. There are a lot of restaurants in town, but I couldn't find many recommendations for places that sounded appetizing to me. We ended up at Miguel's Baja Grill one night for dinner. The taco plates were pretty decent, but nothing special. My carne asada plate was more flavorful than the fish tacos, and we really liked the fresh salsa, though it didn't have much heat.

The other day we came into town at the witching hour, a little after 4 PM. The places we wanted to try, little bakeries and a cafe, had closed at either at 3 or 4, and there weren't many places open yet for dinner. We tried the Peace Tree Juice Cafe, where much of the town's hungry folk seem to have gathered. It's a cute place, with a nice patio and a hippie vibe, where we experienced some of the worst friendly service we've ever had in a restaurant. The lunch menu is mostly salads and wraps, while the dinner menu is much more mainstream with cooked food. We got both menus, but were later informed upon selecting dinner items that most weren't ready yet. The quinoa salad I decided on was lovely and colorful, but difficult to eat - the salad was packed into a small bowl and designed to be tossed by the diner. I tossed it all right - mostly onto the table. The parts I did eat were fresh if somewhat underwhelming in flavor. We also got a burger, which was also pretty, but lacked the beefy, hearty, something that makes a great burger. But really, it's the service that stuck out in our minds. We'd ask our (very pleasant, smiling) server to get us something (water, silverware, ketchup, etc.) and she would assent and...wander away. Some time later, she would approach to check back on us, pause and grimace, then turn back to go fetch the item we had requested. I think this happened 4 or 5 times. Also, another table was having trouble with ordering, and ended up getting in a loud argument with their (different) server (we heard the whole thing and it was a legitimate complaint). So...maybe go there for juice or takeout if you absolutely must?

Also, there was a Chinese food place that advertised food by the scoop ("only "$1.75 per scoop!"). We looked in (how could we not?), saw a steam table of grody,greasy American-Chinese favorites, and were completely ignored by the lone staff member who was chatting on the phone. Awesome.

Anyway, the one truly bright spot (besides the parks, which are both spectacular) was our hotel - the Aarchway Inn. It's at the end of the strip, closest to Arches, and it's a very nice budget hotel. I say budget because it is not a luxury hotel like in a city (not because it's cheap, because nothing seems to be in Moab), but it is not a motel, definitely has everything you need, plus some nicer touches. The rooms are spacious and the bathroom is nicely tiled, and a hot breakfast (real meats, steam table scrambled eggs, etc), Internet, a fridge, and microwave are included. The hot tub is lovely, though the entire pool area is overrun with children. It's definitely a very family-friendly place that appears to be frequented by European travelers.

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I can recommend the Sleep Inn in Moab as a *budget* place.  It's a pretty basic motel setup, but it's clean, spacious, and has a decent continental breakfast for under $100/night.

The federal shutdown left us scrambling for alternative options to national parks, so we didn't spend nearly as much time around Moab as we originally anticipated.  We can say that: Quesadilla Mobilla had very substantial and tasty quesadillas; Milt's Stop & Eat had very tasty bison burgers and ginormous cook-to-order sides

I'll also include Boulder UT, Grand Junction CO, and Page AZ on this post, since they're less than 5 hours' drive away :-)

Boulder - Hell's Backbone Grill was okay, not great.  The food was kinda bland and executed at the level of a decent but not expert home cook.  We did eat here for both lunch and dinner because there weren't many alternatives and the food was at least quite healthy, local, and organic.

Grand Junction - Bin 707 Foodbar was good, not great.  The best of the bunch were the various fried veggies, light and flavorful.  The Berkshire pork tacos were tasty enough.  The kitchen fries were fine, as was the burger.  It's a solid pitstop if you're in Grand Junction or passing through, but not worth making a big detour for.

Page - Blue Bakery & Wine Bar's tapas options were limited to about 10 things and they were out of 3.  The meat and cheese plate turned out to be sausages sliced into 1/6 inch rounds and cheese in 1/2 cubes without any other accompanyments - tasty enough, but rather surprised to see this presentation at somewhere other than a friend's impromptu house party.  Other stuff we ordered was fine but unmemorable.  Also got habanero wings from Dam Bar & Grill (reasonably tasty, but not the amazing and lip blistering wonders of our memory) and RD's Drive-in (both agreed that chili fries were not worth eating after the first bite, +1 claimed that the green chile burgers were "eat-able" and ate it, eat-able being a category of foods we put just above "edible").

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