Red rock. Tumbleweeds. Prairie Dogs. Wide open desert. Incredible rock climbing…And the best food you’ll find between the east and west coast.

Moab is a little town tucked into the red rock desert of Utah with small town hospitality and an unparalleled landscape. It’s also home to the Desert Bistro, an incredible gourmet restaurant that you would expect to find in San Francisco or New York.

Karl and Michelle Kelley run this foodie joint with a delectable seasonal menu of southwest style fine dining. Karl was originally a ski bum, learning to cook his way from town to town. He quickly surpassed the skill of any typical sous chef and eventually decided to set up shop with his lovely wife Michelle in one of their favorite cities.

Moab is an unexpected place—you may judge it for its location or lack of ‘city life’, but as far as adventures go, this is the city to be in. River rafting, mountain biking, rock climbing, any sort of expedition you’re willing to try is within a 10 mile radius. Being athletes themselves (Michelle a beautiful skier, Karl a world class climber), these guys know the importance of a good meal after a long day in the desert—and how to take it to the next level.

The food is innovative, thoughtful and perfectly cooked, every time. Karl has a sense for adventure that translates from climbing Supercrack in Indian Creek to creating an exquisite Rack of Lamb with a honey glaze, kiwi red pear & jalapeno chutney, & sweet potato pave. We so rarely single out the vegetarian options—protein usually steals the show—but the Desert Bistro’s appetizer of gyozas with smoked tofu, tahini, Anasazi bean hummus & roasted garlic, served with a chipotle pepper, soy & maple beurre blanc is absolute perfection.

Michelle doubles as the restaurant’s hostess and in-house pastry chef, playing with traditional recipes and giving them a ‘Kelley’ style twist. Her Bailey’s infused cheesecake beats any NYC cheesecake we’ve ever tasted, and that’s saying a lot.

It’s hard to order wrong here…a four course dinner on the enchanted patio will just whet your appetite for another evening at this romantic restaurant. Don’t let the word bistro fool you…this is no ordinary sandwich shop. An educated staff, fun atmosphere and beautiful food that can look good and taste amazing makes it worth the trek to Moab even if you never make it out to the cliffs.

I never said I was the best. I said I would give you my very best. That’s all I can do. -Karl Kelley

Desert Bistro has been called the ‘best’ restaurant in Utah over and over again, but the modest chef has a different take on what being the best really means.

When you head out West, stop in for a bite and a cocktail. You might just move here.

 

  • Ruth Kelley

    I’m his mom ands as proud as any mom could be of both of them. All this from a kid that wouldn’t even make his own Peanut Butter sandwich. Love you Karl [CHARLIE] and MIchelle Mom

  • Jake Winston

    You know it’s got to be good if you remember the sauce your elk was served with a couple years later…

  • Christina Austin

    I’ve eaten there a couple of times, but it’s been a few years. My mom and I had dinner there when we were on out in Moab prior to my wedding making arrangements with vendors and stuff. I had elk steak in chipotle-huckleberry sauce. Definitely one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.