Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Review of the Moab Diner

The following is a piece I submitted last year as a guest reviewer on the now-defunct random reviewer project. I'm still a little bummed that random reviewer didn't last, though it appears that reviews are still popping up from time to time here. Anyway, random reviewer had lost momentum before this ever got published, so I thought I'd post it on my own.

My motivation for posting it is that I leave tomorrow for Moab, Utah for my inaugural attempt at RAWROD--Ride Around White Rim in One Day. While certainly doing the ride is my primary motivation for making the trip, I will freely admit that while I am riding, some of my motivation to finish the ride will come from knowing I can go to the Moab Diner when I am done.

Review of the Moab Diner

You know that feeling you get when you put on a pair of pants, stick your hand in the pocket, and discover money in the pocket you didn’t realize was there? Well that’s the feeling I had on my last trip to Moab when I had lunch at the Moab Diner.

For years I have been traveling to Moab and only visiting the diner for ice cream. Specifically, strawberry malts. These are good strawberry malts, mind you, but I had no idea what else was in store. Until my last visit. Here are a few of my favorites.


The lowly cabbage is an unassuming vegetable capable of a remarkable variety of applications. It can be shredded over fish tacos or into posole. It can be made into sauerkraut and top a fine sausage. But certainly the most glorious end for a cabbage is to be turned into coleslaw. The Moab diner does this better than perhaps any place I have eaten, including my own kitchen. The cabbage is crisp, the dressing is creamy but not bland. The spices are vibrant but not overbearing. Indeed, all the ingredients come together in a harmonic blend of deliciousness.

Approximate number of minutes a 180 pound cyclist needs to ride to burn one serving of coleslaw: 12

Rating: pass the coleslaw

Strawberry malt:

There are certain foods that are simple yet delicious. They are neither fancy nor rare, just enjoyable. The Moab Diner’s strawberry malt is one of these foods. The hand-scooped strawberry ice cream is creamy. The berries are sweet and not too tart. It is blended such that there are no ice crystals. The malt is smooth without overpowering. And it’s served unabashedly in a 20 ounce cup. What more could anyone want, unless you’re on a diet?

Approximate number of minutes a 180 pound cyclist (because let’s face it, 150 pound cyclists don’t eat these things) needs to ride to burn one strawberry malt: 100

Rating: no wonder I’ve never lost weight on a Moab trip

Green Chili:

This is the Moab Diner’s signature item. Virtually everywhere you look is a mention of “best green chili in Utah.” What is green chili you ask? I don’t know, but it’s good. It’s not Hormel chili colored green. Nor is it chili verde. In fact, I wouldn’t really describe it as green, though it does have some green chiles in it. And it’s not really like chili, as there is no beef and no kidney beans. There are definitely beans of some sort in it, though, and who knows what else. Truth be told, I don’t really care what’s in it with as good as it tastes. I realize I am doing a lousy job describing it, so all I can do is encourage you to try it the way I did, on the:

Green Chili Cheeseburger:

This is a fairly straightforward cheeseburger, with a good quality meat patty, melted cheddar cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and oh yeah, Moab Diner green chili. I like cheeseburgers and have eaten some good ones over the years. But there’s something magic about the Moab Diner green chili. It turned a good cheeseburger into something absolutely spectacular.

Approximate number of minutes a 180 pound cyclist needs to ride to burn one green chili cheeseburger with a side of fries: 140

Rating: absolutely worth it


I mentioned earlier that all I had ever really eaten at the Moab diner was the strawberry malt. Not really true, as one of my friends likes to eat a BLT with his strawberry malt and would often share. I’ve still never eaten a BLT of my own, but the half sandwiches I’ve been given here and there deserve mention. The bacon is special. Over at the Jailhouse Café (also in Moab), they make particular mention of their unique, meaty, extra thick, extra salty bacon. I’m pretty sure the diner’s BLT uses the same source. Make that bacon into a triple-decker sandwich with fresh tomatoes and lettuce, just enough mayonnaise, and bread toasted golden brown, and you’ve got something to look forward to as you pedal those last road miles back into town from the end of the Porcupine Rim trail.

Approximate number of minutes a 180 pound cyclist needs to ride to burn one BLT: however long it takes you to get back into town from Porc Rim is close enough.

Rating: you’ve earned it

Hot Fudge Shake Made With Chocolate Ice Cream:

Hot fudge shakes are good. So are chocolate shakes. But when the milkshakes are made with hand-dipped ice cream, you can get creative. So my wife ordered a hot fudge shake made with hand-dipped chocolate ice cream. The very next day my wife and I had an absolutely exquisite six course dinner at one of the finest restaurants in Salt Lake. But guess which dessert I was still thinking about a week later? Yep, the hot fudge chocolate shake was that good. If you like chocolate, I am pretty much convinced that you will never enjoy anything more, particularly if you’ve spent a good chunk of your day in the sweltering Utah desert before you eat it.

Approximate number of minutes a 180 pound cyclist needs to ride to burn one hot fudge chocolate shake: who cares?

Rating: worth getting fat over

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