I know what you’re thinking, fine dining in a Utah desert town? But yes, it’s possible and the lovely and amazing Desert Bistro in Moab is a true testament to that. While there is a glut of dining options in the locale nearest to the spectacular Arches National Park, I’m not sure how many can count as “classy” dining which is not too surprising since when you head out West, especially to the more sparsely populated West, you’re expecting tried and true favorites-meat, potatoes, etc. And yet, the Desert Bistro is a culinary enchantment of sorts. But let’s start at the beginning.
I love just about anything with a historical connection and the Desert Bistro definitely has that. Located just one block from Main Street, the restaurant is housed in Moab’s original dance hall which was built in 1892. It’s a small, one story building and once you step inside you will see why reservations are highly recommended (the room we were in only looked to have about five tables, although there is a second room as well). I’ve seen enough Western movies/read historical nonfiction accounts and could just imagine what the building looked like when Moab was still just a sleepy Western town, long before highways made it possible to easily visit from the capital Salt Lake City, and long before hordes of tourists started descending upon it; men in their one fancy suit, ladies in their best finery. It was truly just a charming space that exuded “old time” history.
Desert Bistro serves upscale and adventurous Southwestern food although I found the menu to definitely include some international elements as well. To start, I decided to try vegetable spring rolls in rice wrappers-two were Southwestern themed, the other two traditional Asian themed. There were also accompanying dipping sauces from each of the two geographical regions. Besides being possibly the most elegant presentation of the evening, they also were perfect in terms of not leaving me full before my main course had even come.
D selected the Chipotle Caesar Salad that came with toasted cornbread croutons and parmesan for his starter course. He dubbed it one of the best Caesar salads he had ever had.
We also were given a basket of freshly made (and still warm) wheat bread that came with three different types of spreads-an olive tapenade, traditional butter, and olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
I just had water but D ended up trying two different beers from the Moab Brewing Company.
Fish features prominently on the menu with a couple of selections to choose from (as our waitress explained, all had been flown in fresh from Hawaii). While unintentional, I ended up ordering a vegetarian dish for my entree. It just sounded too good to pass up-Potato Cups filled with a medley of Southwestern vegetables with a roasted garlic and sweet potato puree, finished with a balsamic glaze along with baked quinoa cakes. No meat whatsoever and yet it was one of the best things I had ever tasted.
D went with the Gorgonzola crusted filet of beef tenderloin that was topped with a roasted tomato demi-glace and was served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables. He thoroughly enjoyed his meal.
While we were both bordering on bloat-like conditions by that point, I was still anxious to try out dessert, especially after our incredibly sweet and charming waitress rattled off the many delectable selections. We went with a favorite of both of ours, key lime pie. While it was not the best key lime pie I’ve ever had, it was still quite delicious.
Service the entire meal is exactly what you would expect and hope for in a fine dining establishment and The Desert Bistro did not disappoint. No, it’s not somewhere to go if you’re on a budget, and yet if you want a memorable culinary experience in a memorable setting like Moab, The Desert Bistro is the place to go.
(For reference, for all that we had, our bill came out to around $100.)
36 S 100 W | Moab, Utah | 84532