Entering and exiting the South Rim of the Grand Canyon leaves travelers with very few restaurant options, which is a significant oversight considering canyon visitors tend to work up an appetite. In fact, the area seemingly boasts more hotels and motels than it does eateries. Even more peculiar is that of the restaurants offered just beyond the gates of Grand Canyon National Park, almost all are steakhouses.
Like the hotel, the restaurant is extremely spacious with décor that includes plenty of wood in the form of exposed beams and floors, as well as tables and chairs. There is also a lot of stonework and ironwork. Oversized cowboy boots, horseshoes, and wagon wheels, as well as Native American artwork and taxidermy big game animals, help to promote the Grand Canyon atmosphere.
On the evening of our visit, live entertainment was featured with a country and western guitar player/singer, and though he was decent in a very subdued kind of way, he was dwarfed by the big stage area in which he performed, causing him to fade into the background.
Even the leather-bound menu is big. Yet, despite its large size, its menu items are somewhat limited, with a small selection of appetizers, seafood, pasta, specialty sandwiches, burgers and, of course, steaks and chops. By small selection, we refer to the fact that each category contains only 2-3 dishes, all of which fit onto just 2 pages. What it lacks in options, it more than makes up for in price, unfortunately. On the plus side, the food is fresh and flavorsome with homemade charm and pleasing presentation. And, as one would imagine given that everything is oversize in this restaurant, the portions are indeed large. You won’t go home hungry and you will likely enjoy what you eat.
Where the Canyon Star falls short is with the overpriced menu and noticeably uninspired wait staff – with an emphasis on the word ‘wait’. For our experience, the meal was just shy of $100 for only 1 soup, 1 order of potato skins, 1 hamburger and fries, and 1 grilled chicken Caesar salad, plus 3 sodas and 1 beer. For that, our wait time was excessive, especially considering it was a slow night with only four other occupied tables in the cavernous restaurant. Fortunately, all dishes were truly tasty – the chicken noodle soup was hot and hearty, the salad was fresh and crisp, and the burger was thick and juicy. The fact that we enjoyed the meal, as well as the ambiance, helped to take the sting out of the bill.
The restaurant, which caters to hotel guests as well as drop-ins, serves dinner as well as a daily breakfast buffet. Nightly entertainment ranges from country solo artists and small bands to Native American performances in full ceremonial attire. A saloon attached to the restaurant serves up 24 draft beers from the around the world and 125+ varieties of liquor and spirits.
After dining, guests can stroll the hotel lobby to see more taxidermy and props of a local nature, as well as visit one of two gift shops that house a variety of travel necessities, some clothing, snacks, and souvenirs, including Native American crafts.
Overall, this restaurant has a lot going for it in the way of atmosphere and convenience, considering its close proximity to the Grand Canyon and its attachment to the hotel complex. It also has some palate-pleasing dishes that visitors are sure to savor. But given its lackluster staff and overly expensive menu options, the Canyon Star may well be located near the Canyon but it’s certainly not a ‘star’.