have certain tried-and-true recommendations for friends
who visit us in Moab. For bikers, I suggest the Slick Rock
Trail; for hikers, there’s Delicate Arch (especially
in the moonlight) and for photographers, there’s
Dead Horse Point. On my list of Must-See sights, I always
include the Sunset Grill for there’s no better place
in town to dine well while watching the sun bathe the valley
in a golden glow that morphs into a crystal clear twinkling
The view is spectacular from this restaurant strategically perched
on a west-facing rim. If you were a millionaire, this is where you
would have built your dream home to catch a view worth every dollar
Steen, one of Moab’s most renowned and eccentric
historical characters, did just that. Once he managed
to find his fortune in uranium during the Fifties,
he built an enormous house that cleverly capitalized
on the view from just about every vantage point in
the building. The house was a testimonial to his good
fortune and transformation from a pauper (he almost
ruined himself and his family looking for uranium)
to an extravagant millionaire (he reportedly filled
his pool with champagne).
The house was converted into a restaurant long before John and Laurie
Clayton, current owners of the Sunset Grill, bought the place ten years
ago. Their story carries some of the unexpected twists found in Steen’s.
Originally from Pennsylvania, the Claytons had moved to Salt Lake City
for John’s job as an aerospace engineer, building rockets and
missiles. Having no restaurant experience, they plunged into the business
headfirst by buying the restaurant, known then as Mi Vida.
hired a local high school student to cook while John did dishes. John
has since learned to cook himself and both he and Laurie devote themselves
to running the restaurant. John confesses with a smile that “being
a rocket scientist is easier than being a restaurateur.”
They have since added two cooks who have been with the Sunset Grill
for ten years, an exceptionally long time in this industry and a testament
to how well the Claytons run the place.
Their menu has evolved over the years to reflect the family dining
atmosphere of a steak and seafood house. The Claytons have four children,
all of whom have inspired a namesake dish, although the Linguini Olivia
is the only one currently on the menu.
The food often features French, Italian or Asian flairs such as Escargot
in garlic herb butter, Lemon Chicken in a white-wine cream sauce and
Salmon Filet in an oriental glaze with a light soy-sherry cream. The
food is refined without getting uncomfortably exotic.
The specialties of the house are steak and seafood. They cut the meat
on the premises, use their own blend of seasonings and grill it to
taste. The Prime Rib, Filet Mignon and New York Strip Steak are all
popular choices on the menu.
The seafood options include Salmon Filet, Shrimp Scampi, Idaho Trout
and Linguini Olivia which features lobster medallions and gulf shrimp.
All entrees are served with fresh baked bread, a choice of soup or
salad and sauteed vegetables, making each meal balanced and plentiful.
As good as the food is, it’s hard for it not to be eclipsed by
the setting. Because the dining area is composed of three long rooms
with windows all along the west side, there’s practically no
table in the house that doesn’t feature a spectacular view.
The restaurant also includes two vast patios, one of which consists
of a cool grassy area (the remains of the champagne-filled pool) and
trees. Both patios make a splendid place for eating al fresco. They
are terrific options for holding large parties, family reunions or
weddings, of which the Sunset Grill generally does a dozen a year.
As the name of the restaurant suggests, the peak time to dine is right
before sunset so you can catch the dramatic changes to the landscape
as the last rays of the sun light up the sandstone into a rich blend
of reds and golds. Visitors to Moab should not miss dining at the Sunset
Grill as it will leave you with a good taste and memory.
The Sunset Grill is located at 900 North Highway 191 and can be reached
at (435) 259-7146. The open at 5:00p.m. daily, except for Sundays.
Reservations accepted for parties of 6 or more. Entrees range in price
from $12.95 (Cappilini Marinara) to $22.95 (Filet Mignon) and average
of the Month
Pan Fried Trout
1 fresh boneless filet of
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup flour with salt and pepper added to taste*
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, each
Heat two tablespoons vegetable
oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the 1/4
tsp. salt and pepper to the oil. Take the trout
and dredge both sides in the flour seasoning.
Put the meat side down first into the hot oil and cook until
it is lightly browned (the scales on the back should start
to bubble). Turn over and finish cooking for about two minutes.
Total cooking time is about 8-10 minutes, depending on the
size of the trout. Strain any extra oil and add the fresh lemon
juice to the pan.
can substitute the salt and pepper in the flour
mixture with lemon pepper seasoning, Lawry’s
seasoning salt or Cajun spices (for a spicy alternative!).