One of the staples of any trip to Yosemite National Park needs to be a dinner, or at least a tour, of the beautiful Ahwahnee Hotel. Located right in the center of the park, this hotel has a rich history of over 80 years in business and is the crown jewel of luxury in Yosemite Valley. It has hosted everyone from presidents to queens and is one of the most famous hotels in the National Park system.
The hotel itself has an atmosphere much like that of a log cabin or mid 20th century building. It has rich stone pillars, vintage furniture and massive fire places. Along the exterior of the hotel is lush meadows and trees with a silhouette of the granite walls of the valley beautifully ascending behind the posh hotel. The interior itself is a perfect place to spend a cold winter night.
Even with all of that the hotel still seems to keep the wild vibe to it. While we were at diner we even saw a bear meandering through the meadow out the window. The staff didn’t even seem to think it was a rare occurrence to see something like this. There is also a strong Native American vibe to the decor and the style of the hotel.
The hotel also has a bar and a gift shop in its main courtyard, but compared to many of the bigger hotels its lobby area is quite small.
The standout for me in any trip to the Ahwahnee is a dinner at its famous dining room. The room itself appears as a real life equivalent to the eating area in Hogwarts of Harry Potter fame. It has lavish vaulted ceilings, beautiful chandeliers and wood that has been inlaid with a precision that is all but lost in modern workmanship.
The dining room is even beautiful in the dimly lit hustle and bustle of dinner is in full swing.
If you are attending dinner here make sure you look at the dress code as it is required. On their website at the time of writing it was
Dinner dress code in The Ahwahnee Dining Room is ‘Resort Casual’. Gentlemen are asked to wear collared shirts and long pants. Ladies are asked to wear dresses, skirts or slacks and blouses. Children over the age of four are asked to dress accordingly. Breakfast, brunch and lunch dress are casual.
As a restaurant of this caliber would normally entail, you can plan to spend 40 to 50 dollars a person for a meal here, and while that is pricey, if you stay in Curry Village or even in the campgrounds you can probably afford to splurge one night on a fancy meal. The food does live up to the price at least, I am still savoring over the amazing meal I had during my last trip here.
The menu is comparably to a fancy steakhouse with different cuts of meat, fish and even chicken. While I was there they had a three course meal that was 50 dollars and came with a salad, entrée of either chicken or beef and a piece of pie. I opted for this meal so I could try more of the experience and Amie chose the Mahi Mahi.
The first course was a Caesar Salad, and if you want to know what you are getting into dining here, yes the salad is genuine and has anchovies in it (that is the way it is prepared if you didn’t know). We were also brought out a collection of breads that were all fabulous.
The second round for me was a beef brisket and horseradish mashed potatoes and boy was it good. The meat was juicy and flavorful and the horseradish mashed potatoes were the perfect amount of spice and flavor. I literally could have licked the plate. Amie’s Mahi Mahi was prepared well but not overly amazing so I am sure she would get something different next time, but pescartarian options are somewhat limited.
For dessert I chose the razzleberry pie and it was an amazing dessert experience. Amie, as a fan of Creme Brulee, ordered the sampler that came with a regular, chocolate and pistachio option. She was a huge fan of that but said that the regular was the best.
Another note on the dining experience is that it is a slow process. I feel like this is a great way to experience fine food and I loved just sitting and relaxing and taking in the beauty while waiting for our different courses to arrive. However, if your kids are antsy they may not be a huge fan of a dining experience like this.
If you are a foodie like myself and a fan of fine dining, then an experience at the Ahwahnee needs to be on your list at least once. If you are anything like me it will be something that you remember, and at least it is a good reason to spend some time in this beautiful and historic hotel in between outdoor adventures (Amie and I climbed half dome the day after we had this meal). Check out the rest of the photos and leave a comment below.