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Go to Jail, Go Directly to Jail...
The Jailhouse Cafe!

You have to go to jail if you want to eat at one of Moab’s favorite breakfast spots. Ginger pancakes, whole-grain waffles and creative omelets are served in one of Moab’s oldest buildings and the first county courthouse.


Grand Marnier French toast
2 cups eggs
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups Half & Half
5 TBS Grand Marnier Liquor
2 TBS Sugar
1 TBS Vanilla
1/2 TBS Salt
Mix all together in a blender. Blend well.

The building was originally constructed sometime around 1885 as a residence, but was purchased by the county in 1892. After expanding the size of the original home, there was room for a jail and courthouse. Off the current kitchen is a small room with two-foot thick adobe walls where prisoners were held during these early days. Although a new courthouse and jail were built in 1903, the restaurant building has long been referred to as “the jailhouse” by people in Moab.

In the intervening years, the building functioned as a house, post office, retail shop, business offices, and during the 1970s as the Jailhouse Gallery. During the 1980s, the building sat empty and threatened to disappear from the Moab landscape, but was purchased and saved in 1992 by Will Petty. He lovingly renovated the historic structure to make room for Jailhouse Café.

Will’s careful attention to the renovation is equaled by his attention to and involvement in the Jailhouse Café. He always participates in the development of the recipes and has a special flair for the preparation and presentation of foods. While he is not a daily presence in the restaurant, he often practices his wonderful cooking skills at home.

The Jailhouse menu is unique and creative yet reflects an old-fashioned diner tradition. All the food is freshly prepared and has a fresh off the griddle homemade quality to it. There’s nothing assembly line in the way foods are prepared at the Jailhouse. Nowhere else will you find corncakes and eggs, or old-fashioned ginger pancakes. Contemporary entrees include the breakfast enchilada made with two blue corn tortillas, Monterey Jack cheese, onions and Will’s special enchilada sauce. A newly added favorite is the chorizo scramble: Three eggs lightly scrambled with seasoned potatoes and chorizo sausage topped with sour cream and salsa. Probably the all-time Jailhouse favorite is the Southwestern Eggs Benedict, two delicately poached eggs and Canadian bacon on a toasted English muffin covered with a slightly spicier Southwestern Hollandaise sauce. You can enjoy your meal in the cozy, old-fashioned dining room or sit out on the cool patio, which is also heated in the winter, for year-round enjoyment. Managers Kristina Stillwell and Colleen Cooper-Vansdell will make sure your meal is tasty and beautifully presented and your coffee cup is never empty.

The coffee, in fact, is one of the best reasons to have breakfast at the Jailhouse Café. The restaurant serves genuine 100 percent Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. This coffee is grown only in Jamaica and only on the Blue Mountain in Jamaica making it one of the world’s most sought after coffees. In Japan, for example, you’d have to pay up to ten dollars a cup for this delicious brew.

After breakfast you can stroll around the building to see the garden which explodes in color throughout the warm months. The garden of mostly native plantings of wildflowers and other water-wise shrubs, is tended to by Esther and Terry Channel after an original planting by Lucia Howell.

The Jailhouse blends the best of southwestern cooking with old-fashioned tradition in one of Moab’s most interesting buildings. Don’t miss this great breakfast house while you’re in Moab. The Jailhouse is located at 101 N. Main Street. For information call 259-3900, and please let them know that you read about the Jailhouse Cafe inthe Moab Happenings.

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