The Underground Arizona Restaurant That Delivers Food In Buckets

If dining in the depths of the earth tickles your tastebuds, there's a place in Arizona custom-made for adventurous diners. After traveling 200 feet downward, a distance equaling 21 stories, you'll find like-minded gastro-enthusiasts chatting around checker-clothed tables — but don't expect hordes of them. This eatery, tucked into towering cave crevices, seats only 20 people, according to The Culture Trip. You'll likely feel instant camaraderie, similar to being stranded on a desert island with a handful of humans. The good thing is that you'll have food — and lots of it.

To set the scene, imagine a mysterious stretch of hidden caves winding for 60 miles, opening finally into one of America's top natural wonders, the Grand Canyon, per Atlas Obscura. The network of caves has reigned in the underworld of Arizona for at least 65 million years, explains Grand Canyon Caverns, bolstered by iron oxide, limestone deposits once serving as the bedrock of an ancient sea, and what Arizona Highways TV calls the largest known deposits of selenite crystals. Somewhere along the winding journey through the underbelly of nature, you come upon twinkling lights, a sprinkle of laughter, and the aroma of down-home cooking.

Is it a mirage? Nope, it's the Cavern Grotto. And yep, you can eat there.

What lies beneath

The Cavern Grotto eatery is part of the Grand Canyon Caverns complex, a collection of hospitality offerings including an above-ground RV park, campsites, café, Route 66 motel, ranch house, and a group of bunk houses. But what lies beneath outshines them all: the Grotto, a sleeping suite, and the underground exploration tours.

Many eateries tout the "dining experience," but this one defines the concept. After plunging into the earth via pathways, winding stairs, and a very welcome elevator, you'll sit at cheery tables on a wooden platform tucked beneath massive stone formations and extending over an open pit of boulders. After choosing from the menu, sit back and enjoy the ambiance because your food has a journey of its own. It's cooked on the "upper side" of the earth before following your footsteps into the abyss.

In a necessary nod to the area's mining history, your food arrives in buckets hoisted by ropes, pulleys, and a dumbwaiter-style contraption. Plates are miner-style aluminum pans stacked with comfort food such as the Caverns meatloaf specialty, notes The Culture Trip. A dessert bar provides unfettered access to your fill of sweetness, including homemade pies stuffed with chocolate, banana cream, and coconut cream.

Walk off your indulgence with a canyon tour or book a snooze at the Canyon Suite. The hosts claim it's the "deepest, darkest, quietest hotel room in the world." There's certainly no reason to doubt that.