Kayenta, Utah. When you enter the desert, you feel a sense of mystery. Hidden gems lie in the towering sandstone that surrounds you, and the term ‘middle of nowhere’ takes on a whole new meaning. Sometimes that’s a good thing. When we found Xetava Gardens Café in the middle of the Coyote Gulch Art Village, based out of Kayenta, Utah, it was like a foodie mirage. Perfectly executed rack of lamb and inventive new twists on caesar salads floated before our taste buds in the midst of rock formations and arches. It is a gourmet foodie fine dining experience dead smack in the middle of the desert.

a product of creativity, imagination and innovative cuisine

Xetava Gardens Café is an off-the-beaten-path desert-inspired place of pure adventure—gastronomic, that is. Owner Greg Federman bought the original coffee shop from an artist friend who had poured his heart and soul into creating a one of a kind art piece that also happened to function as a socializing spot for the local underground community. Hand carved doors and hand crafted metal décor add a southwest flair without being kitschy or cliché, and an amazing canopied patio is the perfect place to sip a glass of local organic wine and step into Greg’s kitchen.

It’s a well done menu, with options but not an overwhelming selection—everything created here must be executed perfectly, therefore they won’t offer just anything to please the palate. Hormone antibiotic free beef, daily specials of blackberry lamb and amazing vegetarian options too. Start with some panko crusted avocado slices and artichoke hearts, ease into the lightly grilled casear salad and then go for some perfectly fried soft shell crab and organically raised grass fed NY strip . The spice will knock your socks off. The croissant bread pudding that finishes the meal is absolutely sinful, as is the slightly spiced chocolate mousse with fresh whipped cream…a shot of full bodied espresso, a tip of the hat to the original coffee shop owner, is a must before the 20 minute drive back to St. George.

Xetava Gardens Cafe is a cozy, upscale cafe located under the giant red cliffs of Kayenta. It’s a rare and unusual place to unwind and let your tastebuds explore in spectacular natural landscape. Modern design and planning are combined with respect for the environment to create a community that includes plenty of open space, fantastic views of the red mountains and blue skies, and quiet that is deeply peaceful.

Find inspiration in nature and in your entrée. A dinner at Xetava is one you’ll never forget.