Nothing says the Old West quite like a hearty meal cooked over flames and served under the stars – or at least accompanied by live country music. At these five ranches, you can eat a supper fit for a cowboy (or cowgirl) while enjoying a theatrical show, horseback ride, outdoor games or other activities.
Blazin’ M Ranch, Cottonwood
An evening at Blazin’ M Ranch in Cottonwood – halfway between Sedona and Prescott – kicks off at 5 p.m. when the gates open to its Frontier Town. Guests can entertain themselves by pitching horseshoes, learning how to rope and target shooting with a real Colt .45 six-shooter (using wax bullets) until dinner at 6:30 p.m.
Take a seat at a communal table and eat from a menu consisting of barbecued chicken and ribs, foil-wrapped potatoes, cowboy beans, prickly-pear coleslaw and “flying biscuits”: warm rolls tossed to you. Mosey over to the Copper Spur Saloon if you want something more than lemonade, iced tea or water, and save room for the warm caramel apple crisp.
Credit: Blazin' M Ranch
Following dinner, the Blazin’ M Cowboys perform a variety show that concludes with a rendition of Ghost Riders in the Sky. Look outside, and you’ll see a “ghost” of a surprise you won’t want to miss.
Tanque Verde Ranch, Tucson
Located east of downtown Tucson on the edge of Saguaro National Park, Tanque Verde Ranch, an all-inclusive guest ranch, opens its doors to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as its popular cowboy cookout.
Held in the Cottonwood Grove, the barbecued meal is offered Wednesday and Saturday evenings and features grilled beef, ribs or steak, chicken and fresh fish served with homemade cornbread, fresh fruit, salad and more. Guests dine at red-and-white-checked picnic tables while live music plays. Be sure to polish your boots and get your groove on because the evening usually includes line dancing, too.
M Diamond Ranch, Rimrock
A working cattle ranch 35 minutes from Sedona, M Diamond Ranch treats guests to its Ranch Rendezvous, a steak dinner under the stars. Your adventure begins with an optional one-hour horseback ride. Or, wait for the riders to return and take a horse-drawn wagon with them to the cookout site.
Once you arrive, play corn hole, learn how to rope or listen to live music until dinner is ready. Mesquite-grilled steak is the featured menu item (although you can request salmon or a veggie burger instead). Sides include cowboy beans, corn on the cob and salad, while dessert is a sweet peach cobbler.
Rockin R Ranch, Mesa
Once a working ranch east of Phoenix, owned by a founding family of Mesa, Rockin R Ranch is known today for its cowboy dinner and show. Get there when the ranch opens at 5:30 p.m. so you’ll have plenty of time to explore the Western town, watch the pre-dinner show and pan for gold.
Chelsea Robson sings for the crowd. / Credit: Rockin R Ranch
Dinner is classic Western fare: beef or chicken, baked potato, cowboy beans, chunky applesauce, biscuits and crumb cake. You can also order the combo of beef and chicken or a vegetarian meal.
The after-dinner show features an hour of comedy and classic country songs.
Bumble Bee Ranch, Bumble Bee
Cowboy dinners at Bumble Bee Ranch in Bumble Bee, Arizona, about 60 miles directly north of Phoenix, are more intimate affairs than at other venues. Instead of purchasing tickets for a dinner and a show, you make a reservation for your party of six or more and select your menu. Dinner is prepared specifically for your group. Last-minute reservations will not work for this venue. You will need to book at least a week or more in advance.
Menu options include deli sandwiches, hamburgers and hotdogs, spaghetti and barbecued ribs. But, for a true Western experience, there’s only one way to go: the rib eye steak, chicken or salmon dinner served with a baked potato, corn on the cob, dinner rolls and apple pie à la mode and so much more.
Add a cowboy activity, like a two-hour cattle drive, to round out your Old West experience.
Now, who’s ready to eat?