A St. George foodie getaway
By Lizzie Cawley
Irving Berlin may have been nostaligic about an old-fashioned winter holiday writing his song “White Christmas.” But that doesn’t mean we have to repeat it year after year.
Utahns always have a choice. Stay north for the (hoped for) snow, skiing and sledding or head south for an entirely unique desert holiday.
It takes some pluck to toss aside those well-loved traditions of a white Christmas for Southern Utah’s red-rock mesas, temperate weather and breathtaking backdrops of Zion National Park (minus the crush of tourists).
But basing yourself out of St. George—a mere four-hour drive from Salt Lake City—you’ll have your pick of a growing number of eateries, bars and brew pubs that make dining out a special occasion.
For those dreaming of desert Christmas, here’s how to keep your days merry and bright.
St. George’s Historical District
Dotted along St. George Boulevard and Main street are quaint restaurants owned by locals. Ancestor Square and Green Gate Village, both in the heart of downtown St. George, are perfect for a chilly December day walk, shopping and snacking.
Ancestor Square is home to numerous food options and is located next to the St. George Art Museum, Opera House and Brigham Young’s winter home.
Locals favorites include Benja Thai and Sushi (2 W. St. George Blvd., No. 12, St. George, 435-628-9538, BenjaThai.com ), always a hit with its sushi bar, spicy drunken noodles, Thai duck and whole fish, and George’s Corner (2 W. St.
George Blvd., No. 1, St. George, 435-216-7311, GeorgesCornerRestaurant.com), a historic diner promising “especially good food.” The more upscale Painted Pony Restaurant (2 West St. George Blvd., No. 22, St. George, 435-634-1700, Painted-Pony.com) combines Southwestern flavors, an extensive wine list and innovative culinary touches to make this a perfect special occasion spot or fun evening out.
Green Gate Village and surrounding restaurants
A 10-minute walk from Ancestors Square lies Green Gate Village (76 W. Tabernacle St., Saint George, 435-767-7658, GreenGateRetail.com) in the heart of St. George’s historic district. This village is dedicated to shopping and dining out for the whole family. You might feel like you’ve stepped back in time upon entering Judd’s General Store (62 Tabernacle St, St. George, 435-628-2596)—the oldest business in town, known for its old-fashioned candy, root beer floats, hearty soups and other local delicacies.
If your appetite is set on dinner, consider Chef Alfredo’s (76 Tabernacle St., St. George, 435-656-5000, ChefAlfredos.com), which offers an intimate atmosphere and authentic Italian dishes, including gnocchi with fried prosciutto, fettuccine alfredo and chocolate chip cannoli. Cappeletti’s (36 E. Tabernacle St., St. George, 435-986-4119, CappelettisRestaurantStGeorge.com), also a family-owned eatery down the street from Green Gate Village, is praised for its chicken marsala, cioppino and alfredo—scrumptious Italian dishes that are made with an Argentine flair.
All of the above-mentioned restaurants—from Painted Pony to Cappeletti’s—are within walking distance of one another.
Breakfast, Bakeries and Coffee Shops
For a family-owned gourmet eatery known for unforgettable cupcakes, check out TwentyFive Main Café (25 N. Main St., St. George, 435-628-7110, 25main.com). With made-from-scratch meals, salads, paninis and frittatas, it’s a cozy stop on your holiday getaway. As for the cupcakes, whether you choose the cinnamon roll cupcake, white chocolate raspberry cupcake or the holiday cupcake, you’re sure to leave feeling satisfied and wanting one to go.
Having breakfast at the Bear Paw Café (75 N. Main St., St. George, 435-634-0126) is a must, but if you stop here on a weekend, you may be in for a wait (pro-tip: Plan to eat here on a weekday). This quaint diner is a favorite of locals. Bear Paw Café Massive breakfast portions include fan-favorites such as the Denver omelet, stuffed French toast, pecan pancakes and the trapper’s quiche.
If you’d like to hang with the eclectic people of St. George, you should plan a stop at Affogato West (214 N. 1000 East, St. George, 801-898-9378, AffogatoWest.com), a coffee shop located in a renovated movie theater that serves up warm drinks “infused with love and chaos.” Owner Elise West prioritizes community and acceptance. Anyone entering her café leaves feeling rejuvenated and caffeinated. Last Christmas, the barista team created holiday drinks including “Bark The Herald Angels Sing,” and “Jolly Jelly Java Stick.”
Croshaw’s Pies (175 W. 900 South, St. George, 435-628-1700, CroshawsPies.net) is the answer to any holiday dessert cravings. Producing gourmet desserts since 1991, Croshaw’s sells 34 flavors of homestyle fruit pies, cream pies and seasonal pies. Try the sumptuous sour cream lemon and French apple. They also serve chicken, turkey or beef pot pies along with mini pies and sugar-free pies.
Outside of town
If you’re dreaming of a desert Christmas, then a visit Snow Canyon State Park (1002 Snow Canyon Drive, Ivins, 435-628-2255, StateParks.utah.gov/parks/snow-canyon) is a must. After a few hours of hiking or biking and taking in the views, you can visit one of Southern Utah’s best-kept culinary secrets—Xeteva Gardens Café (815 Coyote Gulch Court, Ivins, 435-656-0165, Xetava.com). Located in Kayenta Art Village, Xeteva’s menu highlights local fresh ingredients. Diners can’t go wrong with Cajun flash-fried Brussels sprouts dipped in homemade peach chutney or butter poached salmon tacos. The cocktail menu lists housemade Sangria de Rachel (blend of red wines and fermented fruits) and the Drunken Iceberg (natural lemonade blended with vanilla, coconut, fresh mint and champagne). It’s just the place to relax and enjoy your surroundings.
A short drive from St. George is Zion National Park (1 Zion Park Blvd., State Route 9, Springdale, 435-772-3256, NPS.gov/zion), one of America’s most visited national parks, and one often better appreciated in the winter when the crowds have thinned out.
After hiking to Angel’s Landing or Weeping Rock Trail, visit Oscar’s Café (948 Zion Park Blvd., Springdale, 435-772-3232, OscarsCafe.com) in nearby Springdale and enjoy local brews and fresh dishes with a Mexican flair. Favorites include the chili verde burrito, pesto quesadilla and the larger-than-life Volcano Brownie Sundae.
Many families dream of a white Christmas along the Wasatch Front, but a trip to Southern Utah could be the start of a new holiday tradition. Lean into your dreams of Yuletide dining and excursions among the red mountains of this desert wonderland.