Sunday Brunch at The Ahwahnee Hotel – Yosemite National Park
Sunday brunch is my favorite meal of the week.
There is something special about sleeping in a little longer on Sunday and snagging some extra snuggles, having a chill morning, and then being wined and dined at a fabulous restaurant for brunch. Usually brunch involves family and friends– creating one last chance to catch up and relax before the busy week starts up again. Oh, Mondays! I love how brunch is a mix of sweet and savory foods instead of just one or the other like breakfast or lunch. I like having a variety of flavors at once.
Buffets are usually not my thing. I prefer my food freshly made to order. But when we were visiting Yosemite National Park and found out about The Ahwahnee Hotel’s Sunday Brunch buffet, we knew we needed to try it. The website even described it as “legendary,” and indeed it was. The setting as well as the food was fabulous and was such a memorable dining experience for our family.
The Ahwahnee Hotel
The Ahwahnee Hotel was built in the 1920’s and was built for the goal of attracting the higher class to come and visit Yosemite. It’s a four star hotel and is the perfect combination of grandness and intimacy. We didn’t stay at The Ahwahnee Hotel during our time in Yosemite because we were staying in our motorhome, but we decided that next time we come back, we would definitely be booking a room here. The setting of this hotel is gorgeous with granite rock mountains in the background. Describing it as picturesque just isn’t a strong enough adjective. It looks like a painting. If you want to see Yosemite but camping isn’t your thing, this hotel would be a great option. You can be pampered and stay clean, while still enjoying the beauty of Yosemite. And even if you aren’t staying at The Ahwahnee, it was so fun to take a break from the camping lifestyle, get dressed up in something besides camping clothes, and enjoy a meal at a nice place instead of eating around the campfire.
UPDATE: As of July 2019, The Ahwahnee Hotel reclaimed its old name. It was renamed The Ahwahnee Hotel instead of The Majestic Hotel. The Ahwahnee is the original name that it went by starting in 1927. This post originally called it The Majestic Hotel, but it has now been changed to the current name.
The Dining Hall
The thing that makes this brunch buffet stand out is the beauty of the dining hall. It’s definitely a “second glance” type of place. When we walked in I had a “wow” moment. The giant triangular chandeliers hanging from the ceiling are breathtaking and beautifully lit. The wooden beams criss crossing the ceiling are made with a rich dark wood that makes you feel like you’re in a cozy cabin. I love the rock walls and the giant windows. It’s rustic yet classy. The tables are decorated beautifully and the waiting staff was superb in their service and grace. We felt so welcome.
The Piano Music
The music is what set the tone of the meal. An older gentleman was playing piano in the front of the room. He was so talented. Most of the songs that he played, he played by heart without any music in front of him, but he also had a box of sheet music as well in case he got a request from a hotel guest of a song that he didn’t know. I was so impressed by him. The songs he played brought me back to my musical theater days, and I found myself humming along with him as I was enjoying my food. When he played, “Somewhere in Time,” it took me back to my grandmother’s funeral when my uncle played it on the piano with all my family gathered near. It was her favorite song. I love the power of music and it’s ability to transport you to different times of your life, helping you to relive special memories from the past.
Now we can’t forget about the food! It’s a buffet after all. This was Jimmy’s first buffet experience. Jimmy was so excited when he finally understood what a buffet was – unlimited eating choices. Nate took him around to pick out his food, and he came back to the table excitedly yelling with a huge grin on his face, “Mama! They have mac n’ cheese here!” He was so happy to be able to eat mac n’ cheese, pancakes, eggs, pasta, and tomatoes, all in one meal. And the mac n’ cheese is really good, even for adults. I remember loving buffets when I was little too. My favorite restaurant when I was young was, “Ponderosa,” a buffet in my hometown of Idaho that is now closed. As an adult, I am not surprised at all that their doors closed. Can we get a yuck?
The buffet at The Ahwahnee Hotel was full of everything gourmet that you could want and so unlike my favorite childhood restaurant. They start serving at 7 AM and stop at 3 PM. Before 10:30 AM the food focus is slightly heavier on the breakfast focused items like pancakes, waffles, sausage, and bacon. After 10:30, they switch some things over to more lunch focused items like pasta and risotto, but still having many breakfast choices. I especially loved the cheese filled Danishes with the red berry sauce and the eggs benedict. Nate loved the prime rib and the ham, freshly carved by the chefs. They also serve many different seafood options like mussels and crab legs as well as a lot of vegetarian things. Their vegetarian eggs benedict was delicious. There is something for everyone. And the dessert bar was great. The mini panna cottas were so cute with dark and white chocolate squares on top. The chocolate pudding cups were delicious as well with a mascarpone cheese topping. I am a total dessert fan and visited the dessert table one too many times during my visit. We all left completely stuffed and didn’t eat at all until late that evening. I don’t have any self-control when it comes to buffets. At least I got my money’s worth!
The Cost and Ordering Options
You have a couple of options when you visit The Ahwahnee Hotel for brunch on Sunday. You can pay for the buffet, which is all-you-can-eat and includes fresh juice and coffee. This gives you a lot of variety but you have to serve yourself, which means getting up and down a lot. Serving myself isn’t my favorite, especially with an active toddler. The buffet costs $56 a person. Kids 5 and under eat free from the buffet with a paying adult. If buffets aren’t your style, you can also order from the regular breakfast menu. The food will be delivered to your table like a regular restaurant experience. Prices are around $20 a plate, depending upon what you order. Reservations are required for all meals at The Ahwahnee. In hindsight, we probably would have been fine just ordering something small from the regular breakfast menu and not done the buffet, but it was a fun experience to do at least once. It was definitely a morning to remember.
I hope you enjoy dining at The Ahwahnee Hotel for the Sunday brunch buffet. It’s a great way to start your day when visiting Yosemite National Park. Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions! I’d love to hear from you.