All restaurants need something to stand out from the rest of the crowd. Some are built underwater, others are made of ice, some offer exotic food, there are restaurants perched on trees, and still others lifted by a crane 100 feet above the ground!
However, oftentimes a restaurant’s appeal all boils down to the exceptional quality of the food, impeccable service, and amazing location. But this unique restaurant may have all these assets and more, since it lies 200 feet underground in Arizona!
The Grand Canyon Caverns, which are among the largest dry caverns in the United States, can be found just a few miles east of Peach Springs, Arizona. Over hundreds of millions of years of geological change formed the limestone bedrock that reaches up to 5,000 feet above sea level.
About 35 million years ago, rainfall flowed into the rock, eroding passages moving to the Colorado River and the area now known as the Grand Canyon. Millions of years after that, the water evaporated, leaving behind calcium deposits on the walls and the floors, and the magnificent rock formations that can be seen today.
With cave systems going 210 feet deep into the earth, the Grand Canyon Caverns is among Arizona’s most famous tourist destinations, renowned for its cave tours and underground suites. And it has since added another major attraction – the Caverns Grotto, a unique restaurant that allows diners to enjoy quality meals in centuries-old caves!
John McEnulty, one of the Cavern’s three managing partners, shared that the unique restaurant is perched on top of an elevated wooden platform, where adventurous diners can enjoy classic American comfort food with a 360-degree uninterrupted view of the caverns. “Standing there, it might be the most spectacular view [of the cave],” he shared.
Visitors can access the Caverns Grotto through an elevator that goes 21 stories underground. The literally cool locale (the caves enjoy 72-degree temperatures all year around) has four tables and can seat up to 16 people.
Guests enjoy an all you can eat lunch for $49.95 each, or dinner at $69.95 per person, which includes an unlimited salad and dessert bar and two alcoholic beverages. The cost of dining at this unique restaurant covers a tour of the cave, which usually costs $20.
McEnulty recalls that the inspiration for the Caverns Grotto came from a trip to Disneyland. While eating at the Blue Bayou, a New Orleans-style restaurant overlooking the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, he thought “Holy smokes, that’s what we have. That’s when I decided on a restaurant platform.”
The Grand Canyon Caverns was discovered by Walter Peck in 1927 on his way to a poker game. He bought 800 acres of the area after mistaking the iron oxide and selenite crystals for gold and diamonds. Now, the place is a geological wonder, plus the repository of interesting natural and human history. It houses mummified remains of a bobcat, sloths, and other animals.
No bacteria or living organism can live in the caves, since there is no running water or sunlight. The Grand Canyons Caverns also served as a nuclear bunker in the 1960s, following its appointment as a fallout shelter in case of a nuclear attack. Some parts of the caves still has rations for the people expected at the nuclear shelter.
The unique restaurant makes a trip this natural wonder even more exciting. Found in the largest known chamber in the cave network, the Caverns Grotto offers sumptuous meals, zero sound interference from other dinners, and a taste of remarkable local history.
It’s an incomparable auditory and visual dining experience that is sure to attract plenty of interest and earn its place among the world’s most unique restaurants.