The Ahwahnee Hotel has been an iconic landmark in Yosemite Valley since it was constructed in the 1920's, and has hosted many politicians, celebrities and presidents over the last 90+ years or so. The hotel dining room features world-class dining in the main dining room, and during dinner and special occasions, a "dress code" is in place. Since the Ahwahnee is located in Yosemite National Park, there are many hikers, and other "blue collar" folks like me who don't care to dress up, and are more interested in enjoying a great meal. When you're interested in a casual meal, and maybe a beer or three and you really MUST dine at the Ahwahnee Hotel, take a side trip from the formal dining room and head over to the Majestic Yosemite Hotel Bar, located inside the hotel, just off from the dining room.
As with all of reviews that I publish, I have no affiliation with the restaurant reviewed, and there is no monetary gain on my part, as I am simply a person who likes to eat, and I love to write-up, and publish my dining experiences.
Photo: The Ahwahnee Hotel Restaurant Bar is located inside the stately Ahwahnee Hotel, in Yosemite National Park. You may recall back in 2015 the hotel was renamed "The Majestic Yosemite Hotel," due to a dispute between the Park Service and a vendor, who had acquired the rights to the name of the hotel, and other Yosemite landmarks. In August of this year, the dispute was settled, and the hotel reverted back to Ahwahnee Hotel, which was a relief to all of us who love Yosemite National Park.
Its 3:30 on Monday afternoon of September 09, 2019, and I've arrived at the Ahwahnee Hotel to sit at the bar, enjoy a beer, and a meal of "pub grub" in beautiful Yosemite Valley.
Photo: As you enter the majestic hotel, you'll marvel at the 24-foot ceilings, the many windows that allow natural light, and views of the beautiful scenery. The Majestic Bar, also known as the Ahwahnee Hotel Bar, and according to the tab, the Majestic Yosemite Hotel Bar, is to the right as you enter the hotel. On this Monday afternoon in early September, the hotel and the bar are busy, and a staff member is on duty to seat you. I simply told him that I was sitting at the bar, and just seated myself.
Whatever you call the bar, it's located inside the elegant hotel, and the building, along with the Yosemite scenery are breathtaking. However, the bar itself left much to be desired...
Photo: The bar area of the restaurant features a large dining room, with large windows that look out to the patio, and provide natural lighting. There are many cozy, intimate tables for your dining pleasure, as well as a full-service bar that serves every drink that you can imagine, plus many more.
Photo: On this mid Monday afternoon in early September, both the bar, along with the restaurant are busy. The Majestic Yosemite Hotel Bar offers many varieties of beer on tap, a huge array of wine, most of it produced in California, and some of it in Mariposa County, and every variety of mixed drink in the world. That's the good thing about the bar...
All is not well at the Ahwahnee Hotel Bar... as I sat at the bar, I began to wonder about who designed the bar, what they were thinking, and who actually built this thing. The bar is very low, about waist high for an average adult, which is WAY TO LOW for a bar! Seriously, check out any "dive bar" around, and you'll find the bar to be much higher, with tall stools to match. Not so at the Ahwahnee Hotel Bar, as the bar is low, and it doesn't have stools, as it has padded chairs instead, and the cushions sink when you sit in them, resulting in a very "strange" and awkward position when you sit at the bar. I've never sat at a bar this low before, and it was both uncomfortable and crazy. The management team at the Ahwahnee Hotel needs to rip out the bar counter and install a real bar, worthy of a Texas honky-tonk.
Note the adult woman sitting at the bar, and how low the chair is, as the bar is at her chest level. Crazy! The awkward and uncomfortable seating at the bar cost the restaurant a "star" on my Yelp review.
Photo: I sat myself at the bar, and ordered a 805 Pale Ale, which is one of the beers on tap. My friendly, but very busy bartender Julio, places it on the bar in front of me.
A pint of beer, from the tap will set you back $9.00, plus tax, which will definitely keep you sober, unless you're very rich. To me, that's a lot of money for a pint of beer, but the price is well below of what you pay at an N.F.L. football game, or the California State Fair. Considering the elegant surroundings of the hotel, and the national park, I suppose it's a decent price to pay for a delicious, cold beer, in a frosted mug.
Photo: The bar food menu is limited, to say the least, but it all looked good to me. I was hoping for a burger and fries, but they weren't on the menu, so I went with a "Chili Dog" and the sides that come with the meal.
Photo: Looking at the bar, along with the restaurant area, from the entrance to the patio. You can see the low height of the bar, and the low chairs, rather than stools, that line the bar. If you're not sitting at the bar, the rest of the dining room is elegant, in keeping with the iconic Ahwahnee Hotel.
Photo: Just outside the bar, you can sit outside on the beautiful patio, that gives you an amazing view of Half Dome, Cloud's Rest, North Dome, and other Yosemite Valley landmarks. I would have preferred to dine on the patio, but it was full - the empty table in the foreground was reserved - so I sat at the uncomfortable bar instead.
Photo: Jetta, who was the manager on duty, pours a glass of Chardonnay wine for a customer. Jetta actually took my order, but seemed to be very busy tending bar, and mentoring other staff members, so my order was flawlessly handed off to Tori.
Photo: Meet Tori, my friendly server who brings my "Chili Dog" lunch to me with a smile. Despite the fact the restaurant was very busy, my order arrived in only about 15 minutes after I placed my order.
Photo: Tori snapped my photo, at my request, as I prepare to enjoy my lunch, with a smile on my face. Thanks for taking the photo, and for your fine and friendly service!
I'm an average sized adult, but note my awkward seating at the bar, due to the low, "saggy" chair, and the low bar. The awkward bar arrangement negated much of the otherwise grand experience. The crazy bar seating is an issue that management seriously needs to address...
Photo: From the "South-Western Flair" section of the bar menu, I ordered a "Chili Dog," which also included an order of chips, red onion, and a small salad. Oddly, no salad dressing was offered, and for some reason, I didn't ask the staff for any, as the salad was "stand alone" delicious without dressing. My lunch was served in a shallow bowl, which made for an interesting presentation.
The dog is a large, quarter pound hot dog, with natural casing that "snaps" when you bite into it, and releases lots of juicy goodness, just as a premium dog should do. The dog is placed on a large, fresh roll, and chili is scooped on top of the dog, along with the bun, and covered with lots of grated cheddar cheese. The made in-house, and it's delicious, rich, flavorful, but not hot or particularly spicy. It's just plain good! I ate the chili dog and the salad with a fork.
The chips could best be described as large, thick potato chips, that are simply crunchy delicious! They pack a real "crunch" when you bite into them, and made a great side with the chili dog. The small side salad was fresh, and included two varieties of "fancy" lettuce that I'm not really familiar with. I sprinkled the diced red onion on the salad and at it without any salad dressing.
The "chili dog," chips and salad made a great meal, as everything was well-prepared, and delicious. At the price of $13.50, it isn't inexpensive, but considering the fact that you're in Yosemite National Park, and you're dining at the elegant Ahwahnee Hotel Bar, the price of the meal represents a decent value, when you factor in the quality of the meal, and the elegant surroundings.
Photo: Close-up of my "Chili Dog" meal, showing all of the elegance the Ahwahnee Hotel Bar has to offer.
At the Ahwahnee Hotel Bar, or if you prefer, the Majestic Yosemite Hotel Bar, you pay the price for the scenery and the elegance, but you'll enjoy a great meal, good service, and a cold beer or two. Enjoy yourself, and just "go for it..." at Majestic Yosemite Hotel Bar, located inside the beautiful Ahwahnee Hotel, in Yosemite National Park, CA.
Ahwahnee Hotel Restaurant Bar
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