SCOTTSDALE, AZ — The Great Wolf Lodge may not open for another couple of weeks -- mark Sept. 27, 2019 on the calendar -- but the executive chef has released additional insight into the restaurant and dining options guests and the public will be able to try -- from a sit-down family lunch or dinner to quick on-the-go comfort foods.
All of it will be led by Executive Chef Grant Baker, who has worked for Great Wolf Lodge for a decade, and helped open a few of the company's other resorts and water parks. He recently moved to Scottsdale to lead the new resort's kitchen operations.
While the water park is only open to guests staying at the hotel, most of the restaurants, including Ben and Jerry's and Dunkin, as well as the indoor amusement park and arcade, are open to the public.
Baker said while people may have an idea of what type of food an indoor amusement park and water park would have, people may be surprised at Great Wolf Lodge's offerings, he said.
"We're going to provide an experience both from the guest experience side and quality of food side that's going to be unmatched for any water park, whether its indoor or outdoor in the Valley, and while most people think that a place like this, you're going to have your standard hotel and amusement park fair, it's going to be far from it," Baker told ABC15 in a Tuesday morning phone interview.
Here is our first taste at what to expect.
Campfire Kitchen: This is an a la carte restaurant in the hotel's indoor Adventure Park. It will be open for breakfast and dinner, said Baker. For breakfast, guests can expect fresh scrambled eggs, Applewood smoked bacon, sausage, waffles shaped like wolf paws, pancakes, and French toast. For dinner, the restaurant will focus on international and regional specialties, such as a red chili pork pozole and a green chicken pozole.
Barnwood: This is Great Wolf Lodge's signature rustic-themed restaurant and bar. It will have a "fresh and seasonal menu" with "an ever-changing array of dishes made from locally sourced ingredients and reflect what is fresh and in-season," a news release said. Chef Baker said a few dishes would be exclusive to Arizona's menu, including the "Valley of the Sun" salad, which has grapefruit and spiced pumpkin seeds atop salad greens, the "Arizona Twinkie," which is a cream cheese-stuffed jalapeno wrapped in bacon and topped with Prickly Pear barbecue sauce; and the "Salt River Slider," which is vegetarian and made with roasted red peppers, roasted corn, black beans, and a blend of barley, quinoa, oats and Amaranth (an ancient grain), and served with a Chipotle spread and guacamole on a sweet roll. There will also be a burger and a 14-ounce bone-in pork chop on the menu, too.
Hungry as a Wolf: This is a casual family-friendly restaurant with made-to-order 16-inch pizzas, pasta, sandwiches, wings, and salads. Baker said the pizzas are cooked inside a wood-stone oven. "What you're left with after baking is a beautifully baked crust with just the perfect amount of crunch to it," said Baker. A dozen pizzas can be cooked at a time.
Not hungry enough for a full pizza? They will also serve slices of pizza. Other menu items include pastas, sandwiches, wings, and salads.
Ben and Jerry's: Those looking to beat the heat or simply looking for a sweet treat will be able to visit Ben and Jerry's ice cream parlor. It will be the only physical location in the state, though tubs of its ice cream are widely available at grocery stores, convenience stores, and gas stations. The Great Wolf Lodge location will have 10-14 different ice cream flavors at a time, including warm cookie or brownie sundaes and milkshakes. It will also be open for Ben and Jerry's yearly "Free Cone Day" promotion.
Buckets Incredible Craveables: Buckets is located inside the water park and the amusement park and will have some of the typical American comfort foods found at other amusement parks: burgers, chicken tenders, crinkle-cut fries, Nathan's hot dogs, and Bavarian pretzels with cheese. But for those with a sweet tooth, you're going to want to know about the "Tipping Bucket Sundae," which contains layers of vanilla soft serve, brownies, cookies, candy, whipped cream and chocolate sauce in a replica bucket of the one that dumps 1,000 gallons of water over the play structure inside the water park (you get to take home the bucket).
"It's meant to be shared among the family, but it's a massive dessert that once one walks by it, you just can't stop but look at it and want one for yourself," said Baker.
The Watering Hole: Also located inside the water park, The Watering Hole is an "island oasis" for the adults, Baker said. The menu will have Tiki-style cocktails, daiquiris, Mai Tais, and draft beer. There will also be some TVs to watch a sports game, he said.
Freshwoods Market: Freshwoods is a grab-and-go market within the resort's main lobby. Baker said it would have different snacks and drinks, including potato chips and candy bars. It will also have fresh fruit cups, salads, fresh popcorn and Dippin Dots. For the adults, it will have bottled and canned beers, as well as individually-packaged wines.
Timbers Tacos: A southwestern-style restaurant with street tacos, Carne Asada fries, nachos, soups, and salads, as well as margaritas, Mexican beers on tap, and horchata. Baker said they will have a carnitas taco, barbacoa taco, pulled chicken taco, Carne Asada taco, an enchilada-style fish taco, and a vegetarian option. Both its corn and flour tortillas will be made fresh on the "most awesome tortilla press you've ever seen in your life," he said. For dessert, they will have sopapillas which are fried dough pillows dusted with cinnamon, sugar, and Clover honey; and churros stuffed with strawberry sauce, vanilla Bavarian cream, or caramel and served with a chocolate dipping sauce.
Dunkin': For those who need some caffeine in the morning or have a craving for a frosted doughnut will be able to curb that fix at Dunkin', which will be located next to Ben and Jerry's. Baker said Dunkin' will stay open late most days -- usually 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. depending on the resort's occupancy -- for any late-night sugar cravings.
The 350-suite hotel and 85,000-square-foot water park is currently under construction near the Loop 101 and Talking Stick Way and across from Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Both are part of the Talking Stick Resort's Entertainment District.
It is scheduled to open on Sept. 27, 2019. Reservations can be made on the resort's website, www.greatwolf.com.
When it opens, the water park will have nearly a dozen water slides, including tube slides and raft rides, a wave pool, lazy river, and an aquatic play structure with a 1,000-gallon bucket that pours water every few minutes.