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Foodie Journey

Conquer a few bucket-list hikes to keep the calories in check.

In a place that’s known for its red rock landscape, it’s incredible that local chefs can coax such a feast of fresh food from the desert. This itinerary is fit for foodies, and is the only itinerary where you might come back heavier than you started.

You’ll visit Moab, where you can marvel at the desert’s bounty at the robust farmers' market and enjoy canyon views through your wine glass full of a locally-produced vintage. On the road to Capitol Reef, you can awaken to a farm-fresh breakfast, dine riverside, and then savor salads grown in the desert sun and picked fresh just for you.

Imagine what it was like to farm over 100 years ago at Gifford Homestead, an oasis set among sandstone cliffs. Then gorge yourself at Hell’s Backbone Grill, where almost every single thing on the menu is grown locally. Around Torrey you can find eclectic locally harvested fare like free range rattlesnake.

In Boulder, you’ll find a quaint farmer’s market and delightful coffee shop and bakery. Drive on to dine in the rustic elegance of the Bryce Canyon Lodge Restaurant.

In St George, The Painted Pony offers five-star southwestern flavors. Still hungry? Centro Pizza offers big city flavor in little Cedar City.

Cap off your trip in Salt Lake, where you could spend another full week trying to taste everything or just make your own perfect meal eating one dish at a time across the city.

Spend a few days dining across the desert and you’ll come back delighted by how delicious it can be.

During harvest season (Aug.–Oct.), you can hit all three markets listed by starting on a Thursday in Moab.

Day 1 35 Miles
  • Moab Local: Farmers Market
  • Red Cliffs Lodge and Castle Creek Winery
  • Moab Dining Scene

Wine and dine in Utah’s adventure outpost: Moab. You can stock the cooler with fresh, local snacks from the Moab Farmers' Market, grab a great meal and stop by Utah’s first winery. Overnight at Red Cliffs or Moab.

Moab Local: Farmers Market

See what the locals raise out of the red rock desert of Southeastern Utah. The market offers a wide range of goods, produce, meat, dairy and crafts. Local entertainment including musicians, dance troupes and Taiko drummers. Market not running? Head for the Moonflower Co-op.

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Red Cliffs Lodge and Castle Creek Winery

The rustic and comfortable lodge is 14 miles up the Colorado River on scenic Hwy 128 in a classic, rugged Western landscape worthy of Hollywood. It’s also an adventure base camp and is home to both the Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage and the award-winning Castle Creek Winery.

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Moab Dining Scene

Moab has grown up a lot in the last 30 years. While still a renowned adventure outpost, the vibrant town also serves up an array of incredible dining. Here are a few options from the eclectic to the just plain good. All are highly regarded.

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Day 2 160 Miles
  • Green River Foodie
  • Mesa Farm Market
  • Gifford Homestead

Depending on what time you get started, Tamarisk serves up a great breakfast or lunch. Mesa Farm Market is the local farmer of your dreams, and it offers CSAs to locals and homestead-style meals to foodie travelers. Finish the day with a slice of homemade pie at Gifford Homestead in Capitol Reef National Park. Overnight in Torrey.

Green River Foodie

Get cozy with some comfort food or light coffee shop fare during your stay in Green River. The local foodie scene offers some unexpected delights for those travelers on I-70 heading to Utah’s many recreational hotspots.

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Mesa Farm Market

Just down the road from Capitol Reef National Park, the Mesa Farm Market is a real oasis, selling organic fare grown on-site by truly die-hard modern pioneers who’ve eked out a living from this valley’s inhospitable soil. Enjoy fresh fruits, salads, breads and farmstead cheeses.

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Gifford Homestead

Take a walk back in time and learn about Capitol Reef’s early pioneer life at the Gifford Homestead Museum and store. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a freshly-baked piece of pie — your taste buds will thank you. Open March through November.

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Day 3 40 Miles
  • Torrey Dining Scene
  • Boulder Market and Escalante Festival
  • Hell's Backbone Grill

Torrey is a delightful town with an eclectic and tasty food scene to wake you up for the scenic road trip ahead: the All-American Road Scenic Byway 12. You’ll hit 9,000 feet as you climb over Boulder Mountain. Stop at the overlook that peers back into the red rock wonderland of Capitol Reef. But don’t linger too long. You’ll want to hit the Saturday Boulder Community Market, if you’ve timed your trip for it. If not, no worries. You’ll get the very best in truly local cuisine at Hell’s Backbone Grill and you can check out local arts and crafts at the Burr Trail Trading Post. Overnight in Boulder.

Torrey Dining Scene

The next time you visit Capitol Reef, be sure to stop in the tiny town of Torrey for tasty eats and interesting treats from handmade ice cream to unusual dishes of the southwest. Never had rattlesnake before? Now is your chance to try it. 

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Boulder Market and Escalante Festival

Boulder and Escalante on Highway 12 might be quaint, but they have much to offer the adventurous traveler. The weekly farmer’s market in Boulder will help keep you fueled for your journey, and the annual art festival in Escalante will inspire your creativity.

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Hell's Backbone Grill

An iconic meal for an iconic road trip. This Zagat-rated, organic-farm-to-fork restaurant in Boulder, Utah, serves regionally-based cuisine. The varied menu receives rave reviews from happy patrons for its blend of Western Range, Pueblo Indian and Southwestern flavors. The proprietors source from their own organic farm and heirloom fruit trees. Reservations are recommended, so call ahead before you decide to stop in.

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Day 4 80 Miles
  • Burr Trail Outpost
  • Tropic Dining Scene
  • Bryce Canyon Lodge

Start the day at the Burr Trail Outpost. A cup of organic, shade-grown coffee and a homemade pastry will get you ready for the harrowing drive down the Hogsback stretch of Highway 12. There are lots of opportunities to stop and stretch along the way, or continue along to the quaint community of Tropic, which has some culinary treats in store. Bryce Canyon gets busy in the summer, but if you can get a table at the Bryce Canyon Lodge inside the park, you’ll be treated to a surprisingly thoughtful menu with local ingredients sprinkled throughout. Overnight in Bryce Canyon City or Panguitch.

Burr Trail Outpost

The Burr Trail Outpost calls itself “Your oasis at the end of the trail.” Like its neighbor the Hell’s Backbone Grill, the Outpost is focused on local: homemade baked goods, local organic coffee, local art, jewelry, books, crafts and more.

Tropic Dining Scene

After exploring Bryce Canyon National Park, there’s no better way to end the day than with a solid meal and a locally-roasted coffee in nearby Tropic. You'll also discover that staff at these spots are super friendly and possess a wealth of local information, should you have questions.

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Bryce Canyon Lodge

Enjoy rustic accommodations, a great menu, the best access to stunning sunrises and sunsets on the Rim Trail, and the dark Utah skies at Bryce Canyon Lodge. It’s the only lodging option within the Bryce Canyon National Park boundary. Image courtesy dmitri_66 on Flickr.

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Day 5 175 Miles
  • Panguitch Dining Hot Spots
  • Painted Pony Restaurant
  • Centro Pizza and The Grind Coffee

Today explores the best dining of Southwestern Utah, from the Western-inspired dining of historic Panguitch to the rising dining scenes of St. George and Cedar City. Given that this is Southwestern Utah, there are also infinite options for hiking and exploration. If you take S.R. 9 through Zion, you will have to pay the park entry fee and add extra time, but it's a stunning drive. Springdale, at the mouth of Zion National Park, has some impressive dining options, if you wish to plan an extra day of great food (and see Zion). Catch a Shakespearean play and overnight in Cedar City.

Panguitch Dining Hot Spots

Put your feet up in Panguitch and enjoy some delicious home cooking, because you deserve it! You will find a few eclectic food options to fill your belly while taking a break along the Road to Mighty.

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Painted Pony Restaurant

The Painted Pony is self-described as a “culinary island in St. George.” It's also one of the best restaurants in the American Southwest. The Painted Pony restaurant delivers on its promise of southwestern flair in an inviting and intimate atmosphere. Image courtesy Carl Berger on Flickr.

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Centro Pizza and The Grind Coffee

Cedar City's cuisine has burst onto the scene in a big way in recent years, anchored by some of the best wood-fired pizza around at Centro, but there’s also incredible BBQ, modern American restaurants, fine Mexican dining and a great community coffee shop at The Grind.

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Day 6 250 Miles
  • Black Sheep Cafe
  • Pioneer Farmers Market
  • The Perfect Meal

Since you have to return to Salt Lake anyway, you might as well keep this journey of the southwestern palate going by stopping at Black Sheep Cafe in Provo. Once back in Salt Lake City, you'll have the capital city’s full range of urban eateries to put a culinary exclamation point on this trip.

Black Sheep Cafe

An ideal fit for your journey through the American Southwest and on Utah's Road to Mighty® (whether as a driver or a cyclist), Provo's Black Sheep Cafe combines flavors of the southwest with Native American cooking traditions. Black Sheep uses local producers when possible and emphasizes the Three Sisters of squash, corn and pole beans. Not sure where to start? Click the link below to behind the scenes with the team at Taste Utah to meet the chef and experience some of the cafe's best dishes.

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Pioneer Farmers Market

On Saturdays during the summer and fall, Salt Lake’s Pioneer Farmers Market rocks out, encompassing all of historic Pioneer Park on one of the city’s large blocks. All the best in local food plus music and the best of Utah’s artists and DIYers. There’s a quieter food-only market Tuesday evenings during harvest.

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The Perfect Meal

Wine Enthusiast Magazine recently named Salt Lake City one of America's 5 New Foodie Cities. Settle in for comfort food at historic dives or get gussied up for multi-course wine-pairing dinners over white tablecloth. Relax with award-winning beers or be amazed with cutting-edge modern gastronomic fare.

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