something to be said about restaurants that concentrate
on one type of food; they usually develop that specialty
to perfection, better than anyone else. This is just the
case with The Jailhouse Cafe. They do breakfast, and only
breakfast, but, boy, is it delicious. The food lives up
to the Cafe’s motto, “good enough for a last
meal.” If this is what food is like in the slammer,
throw me in and throw away the key.
When local entrepreneur Will Petty opened the restaurant
ten years ago, he decided to fill a niche that is still
not found elsewhere in town. The Jailhouse Cafe is an up-scale
breakfast joint, where diners find familiar morning menu
items, usually done with a sophisticated twist.
For example, the Southwestern Eggs Benedict includes the
traditional poached eggs and Canadian bacon on toasted English
muffins, but what gives this dish a kick is a spicy Southwestern
Hollandaise sauce. Traditional buttermilk pancakes grace
the Jailhouse menu, along with Ginger Pancakes, inspired
by a famous New York hotel, which arrive delicately spread
with sweet Dutch apple butter.
from the regular enticing items on the menu, the Jailhouse
Cafe runs four different specials every day. The specials
include tantalizing entrees like Smoked Salmon Omelet Topped
with Chipotle Sour Cream (see inset for recipe) and French
Toast drizzled with warm peaches, raspberries, blueberries
or apples. The restaurant excels in offering healthy, organic
and creative dishes, including tasty vegetarian options.
The food at the Jailhouse Cafe is consistently delicious
and the portions satisfying, reflected in around-the-corner
lines on weekends. Although they don’t take reservations
(apart from writing your name on a list once you arrive),
the Jailhouse is worth the wait which tends not to last
long, thanks to their extensive outdoor seating. In the
last two years, they have expanded the restaurant to include
a large partially covered terrace.
Artful landscaping of desert-friendly plants and towering
trees creates a cool, relaxed ambiance on the patio. Even
in mid-summer Moab heat, the earliness of the morning hours
can be enjoyed while eating breakfast al fresco. In the
spring and autumn, passersby often see late morning diners
relaxing with a last cup of coffee on the pleasant shady
patio, reluctant to leave.
The coffee and fresh-squeezed orange juice are reason enough
to linger at the Cafe. The Jailhouse receives a special
blend of beans from Salt Lake Gourmet Olympus Roasting which
they roast themselves to make an exceptionally flavorful
cup of coffee.
the enticing aromas and flavors emanating from the kitchen,
the trademark of the Jailhouse Cafe is its building. Erected
in 1885 as a private residence, the building was soon converted
into the County Courthouse. The current storage room for
the restaurant is encased by two-foot thick adobe walls
and acted as the town jail cell for a number of years. (I
asked if it was ever used for errant employees, but apparently
not.) As general manager, Scott Laws, explains, eating in
the Jailhouse provides diners with great food and “an
atmospheric experience of being in one of the oldest buildings
The restaurant is currently operated by a dynamic duo, Scott
and Chef Teresa “Tee” Kirkendall. Between the
two of them, they have 45 years of combined experience in
the food industry. Both are from families of seven children
and found themselves spending time in the kitchen where
there mothers were, inspiring them to make careers out of
this interest. Both have worked in many capacities, from
catering to cooking to managing, and they consider their
love of food and chosen professions in the restaurant business
as a compliment to their mothers.
After attending chef school in Denver, Tee studied under
Chef Dean Livesay and eventually performed in a couple of
live food shows. She was the first woman to win the Apprentice
of the Year Award (1990) and, with a partner, opened up
a successful catering business, Biscuits and Berries, in
Colorado. She relocated to Moab about two years ago and
seems quite pleased with her decision, evidenced by her
bold statement that working at the Jailhouse Cafe is “the
best job I’ve ever had.”
Tee’s pride and enjoyment in preparing sensational
breakfasts are reflected in the flair and flavor of the
food. The service is friendly and efficient, the dishes
downright yummy and the atmosphere pleasant and relaxing.
Starting the day off in the jailhouse isn’t as bad
as my mother always warned me about. The food at the Jailhouse
Cafe is not only “good enough for a last meal,”
but also perfect for the first meal.
The Jailhouse Cafe is located on 101 North Main
Street and can be reached at 259-3900. They are open from
7:00 a.m. to noon, everyday. Entree prices average around
Chipotle Sour Cream
3 oz. smoked salmon
7-8 leaves of fresh baby spinach
3 oz. Feta cheese
3 oz. roasted red peppers
4 oz. sour cream
Beat the eggs and mix with
the salmon, spinach, cheese and red peppers. Pour
batter into a hot frying pan and fold in half when
the bottom sets. Cook until omelet has desired firmness.
For the topping, mix the sour
cream with Chipotle peppers to desired spiciness.
Top omelet with sour cream mixture and serve.