When I’m in Utah canyon country, I’m usually so busy hiking and taking photos that I sometimes skip meals or just have a lunch of trail mix and an apple. But that usually leaves me famished when I finish my hike, and then I’m on the hunt for good coffee and an affordable place to get some tasty lunch. Fortunately, despite the area’s remoteness, you can find some great local eats at prices that won’t break your vacation budget. Here are five of my favorite food stops.
Eklecticafe (Moab, UT)
This quaint little cafe in Moab has been one of my go-to food stops since its early days. Owner Julie Fox opened her business in 1996 as a coffee and collectibles shop, but she soon realized that her coffee was more popular than the collectibles. In 1999 she added a kitchen, and Eklecticafe was born. Located in the historic Schaeffer House on the north side of Moab, Eklecticafe brews some killer coffee and offers a variety of homemade breakfast and lunch options. Their claim to fame is the “Wake Me Up” Wakame—scrambled egg and organic brown rice topped with steamed seaweed. My personal favorite is the huevos rancheros with green chili, which you can also get in a half-size order. Be warned that you’ll be tempted by the delicious desserts in the case as you stand in line to order. There are a few tables inside and a larger patio and garden section outside.
Food: Breakfast and lunch
Hours: 7:00am to 2:30pm daily
Location: 352 North Main Street, Moab
Esca-Latte Café (Escalante, UT)
After a night of camping or staying in the rustic cabins at Escalante Outfitters, there’s nothing better than being able to hop over to this café for a cup of organic fair-trade coffee. You can choose from house coffee, lattes, cappuccinos, and mochas, or get creative with their flavored syrups. Breakfast options include muffins, pastries, and quiche, which you can enjoy at a table inside or outside on the patio. I’ve wasted away many a canyon-country morning sipping coffee and reading a book here. Esca-Latte Café is known for its homemade pizza and calzones, so try to work it into your evening schedule, too. The adjacent store sells outdoor clothing, maps and guidebooks (including mine!), and supplies for adventuring in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It’s also one of the few places for miles around where you can buy wine and liquor.
Food: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Hours: 7:00am to 9:00pm daily
Location: 310 West Main Street, Escalante
Magnolia’s Street Food (Boulder, UT)
I stumbled upon this place totally by accident one afternoon when I stopped at the Anasazi State Park. It was that time of day when you’re getting kind of hungry, but it’s too early for dinner. So, I decided to grab a quick taco, not really expecting anything spectacular. But it turned out to be one of the best damn tacos I’ve ever had! I opted for the picadillo filling: ground beef, jalapenos and carrots, and cotija cheese. Haylee and Garin Apperson first opened their food truck in 2014. That same year their first daughter, Magnolia Grace, was born, and voila–the name for their new business. Using ingredients from local gardens and farms, they serve up delicious tacos, burritos, and gorditas. The menu also includes a couple of breakfast items, such as huevos rancheros. If you’re traveling Utah Scenic Byway 12 through Boulder, don’t make any other plans for lunch.
Food: Breakfast, lunch
Hours: 9:00am to 4:00pm daily, March -November
Location: 460 N. Highway 12, Boulder (at the Anasazi State Park Museum)
Comb Ridge Eat and Drink (Bluff, UT)
Back in 2005, Andrea Martin did Utah canyon country visitors a huge favor when she opened Comb Ridge Coffee. It was the only place for miles around that you could find yourself an honest-to-god good cup of coffee. Over the years, the coffee shop evolved into a full bistro serving gourmet dinners and wine. In 2017 she sold the business to Russ Wheeler, a former pastry chef, and now he’s adding his own personal signature to the café’s food and drink menu. Now called Comb Ridge Eat and Drink, the menu includes things like burgers, salads, and fish & chips, but with a local spin—such as a taco made with local Anasazi beans and meat loaf made with local grass-fed beef. On the breakfast side, they kept one of the menu items that Comb Ridge Coffee had become famous for—blue corn pancakes. They still serve good coffee drinks, too, including my favorite the Honaker Freeze—a yummy frozen toffee mocha with hazelnut flavoring. I usually down mine in about two minutes flat. If your travels take you through Bluff, be sure and plan at least one meal here.
Food: Brunch/lunch, and dinner
Hours: 11:30am to 5:00pm, 6:00pm-9:00pm (closed on Monday; hours may vary in winter)
Location: Main Street (Hwy 191) in Bluff
Kiva Koffeehouse (midway between Escalante and Boulder, UT)
With nothing but sandstone canyons surrounding you as you drive Utah Scenic Byway 12 between Escalante and Boulder, this is the last place you’d expect to find a cafe. But just around the corner from the Boynton Overlook is the Kiva Koffeehouse, where you can sip a latte while enjoying the large picture windows inside the circular “kiva” structure. Completed in 1998, Kiva Koffeehouse was designed and created by artist and engineer Bradshaw Bowman using Ponderosa Pine logs, stone, and glass. The structure and its location are so impressive that many travelers stop to take a look, not even realizing that it’s a coffee shop. The limited food menu includes breads and pastries, soups, and specialty southwest dishes. This is one food stop in southern Utah you definitely should not miss, for both the view and the food. NOTE: I’ve had a couple people tell me that they drove a long way to get here, only to find out the coffee shop was closed because of a special event or wedding. If you’re going out of your way to stop here, I recommend calling them first to see what their schedule is.
Food: Breakfast, lunch
Hours: 8:30am to 4:30pm daily except Tuesday (closed November through March).
Location: Near mile marker 74 on Highway 12, 14 miles from Escalante
*NOTE: I did not receive payment from any business in exchange for my mention of them in this blog post.