by Mary Cokenour
Originally, the site where the Stagecoach Dining Room is located first started out as a movie prop when John Ford began making movies down in Monument Valley.
It became the mess hall for movie crews and cast. The cook would prepare the food, ring the bell (still displayed out front), and everyone would come in to eat family style.
When tourists began staying at the newly built Lodge, they would eat at the mess hall, but the Health Department visited one day and stated it was unsafe and condemned.
The Gouldings tore down the old building, replaced it with a modern structure which included large windows that allows diners to view Monument Valley.
General Managers of the Dining Room (and the entire Gouldings Operation) are Scott and Alexa Laws, who have years of restaurant experience under their belts, including the Lamplight Restaurant in Monticello, which was loved by locals and tourists alike.
Receiving an offer to manage the Stagecoach in beautifully scenic and sacred Monument Valley, they really could not be faulted for snapping it up.
Cheerfulness is exhibited by the entire staff; a lovely ceramic pitcher of Native American design is upon every table, filled with water for thirsty travelers.
The restaurant is well lit; diners get an eye opening view whether seated next to the windows or further inside. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available, delicious foods which are often prepared, or overseen by, restaurant mangers Lorenz and Barbara Holiday.
I interviewed Lorenz via telephone, and I could tell immediately he had that one special factor that makes a great chef…PASSION!
His pride was evident in explaining how all Navajo dishes were made in house, following traditional recipes.
For anyone traveling throughout this region of the Southwest, ordering Fry Bread at the Stagecoach is a must try if you want to have a true southwestern food experience.
Whether as a dessert drizzled with honey, a side with savory Beef Stew, or the ever popular Navajo Taco loaded with beefy taco filling and vegetables, Fry Bread is a treat!
While supplies are outsourced from a food distribution company in Phoenix, AZ, Lorenz diligently makes sure that every menu item is prepared expertly.
The Stagecoach Dining Room has introduced an extensive dessert menu, featuring such items as Chocolate Decadence Cake – rich dark chocolate cake sandwich between, and surrounded by, thick chocolate mousse.
Or how about a slice of Pecan Turtle Cheesecake – luscious cheesecake with a graham cracker crust, topped with a layer of gooey caramel sauce, rimmed with chopped pecans. Please note, no turtles were harmed during the making of this cheesecake.
Lorenz does take great pride in bragging about the sweetly enticing apple, peach and cherry pies which he creates himself. One note of warning, come with a huge appetite or have a way to store the leftovers; the portions are meant to fill you up!
The menu caters to all visitors; enormous cuts of steak for carnivores, vegetarian dishes, gluten free, and my favorite, for those on a “see food” diet: see food and eat it!
One feature I encourage trying is the soup and salad bar; including an offering of two soups with a large variety of salad fixings and dressings. This can be included in a menu selection, an additional one trip to, or an all-you-can-eat feast. Of course, consider trying a Native American specialty, and don’t forget the Fry Bread!
Afterwards, wander around the Gouldings complex; visit the General Store/Home of the Gouldings museum or the John Wayne museum housed in the stone cabin actually used in the film “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”.
Trading Post, Gift Shop, Arts and Crafts Shop, or even stay at the Lodge or RV Campground with a tour of Monument Valley Tribal Park booked.
No matter what your plans, make sure to enjoy a meal, or two, at the Stagecoach Dining Room; you will be thanking me for this little piece of traveler’s advice.
Goulding’s Stagecoach Dining Room, 1000 Main St, PO Box 360001, Monument Valley, UT 84536
Phone: 435-727-3231, Fax: 435-727-3344