Cliff Dwellers Restaurant is located along State Route 89A in Marble Canyon, 9 miles west of Navajo Bridge. For more information, call 800-962-9755 or visit cliffdwellerslodge.com.
© Colleen Miniuk-Sperry
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Remote PossibilitiesAlthough it's located in the middle of nowhere, the food at Cliff Dwellers Restaurant is out of this world.
By Colleen Miniuk-Sperry
Marble Canyon Situated along a quiet stretch of State Route 89A beneath the rugged Vermilion Cliffs of Northern Arizona, the Cliff Dwellers Restaurant is 50 miles away from any semblance of a town. Despite its wildly remote location, "The Cliff is a Venus flytrap," says chef Marnie Bellows. "People stop in to have an iced tea, and end up staying here for two days."
The Cliff Dwellers Lodge has been luring unsuspecting patrons since 1920, when homesteaders Bill and Blanche Russell established a small trading post for intrepid westbound travelers looking to fuel up for the long haul across the Arizona Strip. The current owners, the spirited husband-wife team of Terry and Wendy Gunn, have transformed this remote retreat into a premier destination for world-class fly-fishing and other outdoor activities that cultivate the hearty appetites of their guests.
The Cliff satisfies hungry travelers and outdoors enthusiasts with a pleasantly unexpected upscale menu, presented by Chef Bellows. Lured to the Cliff from Salt Lake City in 1994, Bellows' passion for taking care of visitors by serving food with style and pizzazz quickly earned her the nickname, "Love Chef." "The food is personal," she says with a friendly smile.
Made from scratch, using only fresh ingredients, Bellows creates edible works of art through dishes like luscious Sesame Crusted Seared Ahi Tuna, savory New Zealand Rack of Lamb and crisp High Mesa Salad — all meals you'd expect in Scottsdale or Phoenix, not on the desolate Colorado Plateau. Sure, you can still order a beefy burger with all the fixings, but Bellows' daily specials, such as Shrimp Tempura with Wasabi Ponzu and Maple Glazed Bacon-Wrapped Pork Chops, will certainly tempt even the most discriminating taste buds.
Although the flavors are complex and worldly, the Cliff's ambience remains simple and laid-back. Even after an exciting day of fly-fishing, hiking or sightseeing, you're encouraged to come as you are for your feast. No fancy clothes, white tablecloths or servers in pressed uniforms here.
Whether you're passing by on your way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon or spending time near Marble Canyon, the Cliff will draw you in. The Love Chef knows: "Once someone stops here, they always come back. There's nowhere like it in the world."