Originally posted January 2021; modified and migrated February 2021
Travel date October 2020
I celebrated my 40th birthday, while in Moab, Utah with donuts, burgers, craft beer, gourmet quesadillas, and Mediterranean food. This post will help find places to eat in Moab on a budget.
What is Moab known for?
Moab, Utah has less than 6k permanent residents but annually over 3 million tourists flock to the area for the adventure sports scene and nearby National Parks. Moab has an abundance of free activities in addition to the amazing parks.
Is Moab worth visiting?
Moab in the shoulder season is beautiful with cool, comfortable temperatures. We loved our time here and would definitely recommend visiting Moab. Check out our Moab blog to learn more about free camping and things to do in the area.
How to dine out on a budget?
We cook the majority of our meals at home but like to support local businesses by eating out occasionally. If we are traveling abroad or without our RV kitchen, we book accommodations with a kitchen. Our first errand upon arrival is a trip to the grocery store so we aren’t forced to eat every meal out.
Our dining out budget isn’t massive so we are selective when choosing establishments. While traveling North America in our RV, we usually chose one or two highly rated, affordable venues per destination. If you are wondering how we quit full-time work in our thirties, check out the About page for our story.
We also choose to limit our meals out for health reasons. Dining out makes it difficult for us to stick to a healthy diet especially since we subscribe to the “Treat Yourself” philosophy when eating out.
Finding Cheap & Cheerful Places to Eat in Moab
TripAdvisor is my primary search tool and I find the budget category “$$$ or lower” fits us best. Additionally, when available, we prefer mom and pop’s local establishments over national chains .
A friend of ours uses the term “cheap and cheerful” to describe this sweet spot, between fast-food and cloth napkin dining experiences.
In this instance, we dined out a little more than usual because we were indulgently celebrating my 40th birthday. We found several good places to eat in Moab.
Donut Showdown: Places to Eat in Moab
We started two mornings with donuts because I wanted to try both of Moab’s highly rated donut shops.
Doughbird is located on Main Street with a trendy black and white checked façade. The donuts varied in price but most were $3-$4 each.
We arrived before 10 am on a Friday but sadly found the seasonal pumpkin donuts were already sold out.
I settled for a cinnamon and chocolate dough filled with Nutella. It was surprisingly dense and the dough had a crispy crust like a buttery biscuit.
Kevin chose a maple cake as well as peanut butter and jelly option. Both were creative, unique, and tasty.
The Donut Shop
To spread our donut love around town we also visited the less well-known, The Donut Shop. It has a small, nondescript storefront on one of the lesser-traveled side streets. Again, we arrived before 10 am but found the inventory low.
Where do locals eat in Moab?
Based on the other patrons, we determined The Donut Shop is where the locals in Moab get their donuts. As such, the offerings were more traditional than Doughbird.
The owner was friendly and patient as we asked questions and made our selections. Options were traditional yeast donuts or cake donuts with various icings, coating, or toppings. Most donuts were $1 at The Donut Shop except for the larger Bismark options.
Based on the owner’s recommendation, I tried and loved the crumb-coated cake donut. Normally, I would have never given these a second glance because the coating looked like my arch-nemesis, coconut. However, this coated donut was rolled in sugary, sweet donut crumbs and absolutely wonderful.
All in all, I like pulling for the underdog and love a deal so I would choose The Donut Shop again and again but would suggest trying Doughbird at least one time.
Moab Brewery: The Only Game in Town
For my 40th birthday celebration, we started the evening with a couple of beers at the Moab Brewery with friends.
The brewery only had a handful of beers on draft and the amber keg went dry before we could order a second round.
It was the only brewery in town but overall we didn’t think the beer was special.
Milt’s Stop and Eat
Although it would not normally be a celebration dinner destination, I was happy to try the burgers and shakes at Milt’s Stop and Eat after beers at the brewery.
To provide an idea of Milt’s ambiance, orders are placed at an exterior walk-up window and then you wait at an outdoor picnic table for your name to be yelled when your food is ready.
I had the Andes mint milkshake and a Hatch Green Chile cheeseburger. Both were tasty and Milt’s is worth a stop if you’re looking for an affordable, quick service local burger joint in Moab.
Places to Eat in Moab: Lunch Options
We also ate lunch in town twice, Quesadilla Mobilla and Sultan Mediterranean. Smaller portions at lunch are usually easier on the budget and the waistband than larger, pricier dinner options.
Quesadilla: Moab’s Top Rated Restaurant is a Food Truck
Quesadilla Mobilla is the highest-rated restaurant in Moab despite being a permanently parked food truck inside the otherwise underwhelming, Moab Food Truck Park.
The TripAdvisor reviews caused me to develop an unrealistic hype. Honestly, the quesadillas were cooked well and packed full of creative and delicious toppings but they were still $10 quesadillas served from a food truck.
Overall, I would recommend Quesadilla Mobilla but would set expectations a bit lower than the over 1k five-star TripAdvisor reviews. The flavorful and juicy meats were slow-cooked and well-seasoned.
The portions were generous. Depending upon your menu selection the toppings are unique, such as sweet potatoes and collards on a Southern-inspired pork quesadilla.
In conclusion, they were great quesadillas but they still didn’t quite live up to the hype I had created in my head.
Sultan Mediterranean: Surprise Places to Eat in Moab
Sultan Mediterranean was also highly rated on TripAdvisor. We went for the weekday lunch specials and found good food. Our sandwich combos were under $10 and included fries.
Kevin had a gyro which was especially tasty despite containing beef instead of the traditional lamb.
I chose a falafel wrap but was a bit disappointed in the green hummus-like sauce. The falafel was good at Sultan. Unfortunately, I am still chasing the magical, perfect falafels served with breakfast in Egypt. Check out our blog about traveling in Egypt.
In hindsight, I would have been completely happy with the falafel wrap if I’d substituted Sultan’s flavorful tzatziki for the underwhelming green sauce provided.
Sultan is a solid choice if you find yourself craving Mediterranean cuisine in the desert of Utah.
We hiked and biked several days in Moab to offset all of our over-indulgence. Check out our Arches and Canyonlands blog for more about the trails we loved. Or check out our Moab blog to learn more about our biking and hiking outside of the National Parks.
Places to Eat in Moab on a Budget
We enjoyed our time in Moab and found several cheap places to eat in Moab. Hopefully, our experiences will save you some time and money when looking for places to eat in Moab on a budget.