Kick back, chow down and have a blast at one of the Old West steakhouses in Arizona that lays on live entertainment; several have nabbed spectacular settings, too. By all means, bring the family, but leave your diet at home.
L’il Abner’s Steakhouse, Tucson
Only 15 minutes from downtown Tucson, this Western memorabilia-rich bar and restaurant was established in 1947 on the site of a Butterfield Express stage stop. You can practically smell the mesquite griller, turning out everything from T-bone steak to chicken and pork ribs, from the road. On weekends, listen – or two-step to – the country stylings of Jack Bishop.
Rustler’s Rooste, Phoenix
Perched atop a butte in the South Mountain foothills, this two-tier dining room is a popular favorite for its lofty views and its hearty food – everything from prime sirloin steak to rattlesnake, served with prickly pear cactus fries. Another lure: the nightly music, including the country western favorite Peso Dollar Band, formed in the early 1950s and led for the last three decades by Mark Dollar. He took the reins from his father, Peso, who played with the likes of Roy Rogers.
Pinnacle Peak Patio Steakhouse & Microbrewery, Scottsdale
Started as a general store and rest stop in 1957, Pinnacle Peak grew into the world’s largest Western steakhouse, seating nearly 4,000 people – when they’re not up dancing under the stars to bands like Surefire, with music ranging from contemporary country to classic rock. Adding to the fun is the house policy of cutting the neckties off city slickers. Mesquite-grilled steaks, baby back ribs, chicken and salmon are complemented by a fine selection of craft beers.
Mining Camp Restaurant and Trading Post, Apache Junction
Big names like the Kingston Trio occasionally take the stage at this restaurant at the base of the Superstition Mountains, built of rough-hewn Ponderosa Pine in the style of a mining camp cook shanty. But the entertainment portion of a dining package that includes family-style roast chicken, oven-baked ham and barbecue ribs is usually provided by the house band, The Amazing McNasty Brothers, whose folksy jokes and songs about Arizona entertain the crowds at both lunch and dinner.
Blazin’ M Ranch Chuckwagon Supper & Western Stage Show, Cottonwood
Just down the road a piece from Dead Horse State Park is a fantasy frontier town where a group of singing cowboys will serenade you and make you laugh after you enjoy a chuck wagon dinner. Pile your tin plate high with barbecued chicken and pork ribs, cowboy beans, baked potatoes, prickly pear cole slaw and caramel apple crisp; you can work off some excess calories by flexing your shopping muscles in the Old West-style complex.
Black Bart’s Steakhouse, Saloon and Musical Revue, Flagstaff
The theme and food at this Flagstaff institution are more or less Western, though grilled teriyaki salmon and pasta Alfredo mingle on the menu with prime rib and rack of lamb. But the music veers more toward show tunes, rock, jazz and Disney. The servers, most of them Northern Arizona University music or theater majors, perform solo or in groups, though diner requests are welcome.
Big E Steakhouse & Saloon, Tusayan
What do you do when you’re five minutes from the Grand Canyon but it’s too dark to see the famous abyss? Have dinner – the flame-seared Harris Ranch steaks and the Southwest fried chicken are major crowd pleasers – and enjoy Madame de Murska’s Wild West Revue & Medicine Show. The vaudeville-style revue is super high energy, and early 1900s film clips of the performances that inspired it are shown on a 27-foot-high screen.