Howdy there, pardner. You might have noticed that the urban cowboy is alive and well here in the East Valley. Even desk jockeys get a hankering to kick up their heels line dancing and eating slabs of steak.
It doesn’t matter if it’s in a strip mall or a fancy resort — as long as it has some cowhide upholstery, horseshoe decor and a couple of saddles, we squint real hard and make believe we’re in the real Wild West. Before you go, though, remember to suit up in some Stetson and Wranglers — it doesn’t matter if you top it off with a little Tommy Hilfiger. Even city slickers can have a rootin’, tootin’ good time in this town. Here are a few places to get your cowboy on:
Buffalo Chip Saloon, 6811 E. Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek (480) 488-9118
This rugged wood-floor diner with a sense of humor is a good place to start a daylong tour of Cave Creek, which packs in more cowboy fun per square foot than any other town in the Valley (sorry, Scottsdale). Home to Cave Creek Cowboy Company, Hollywood Cowboy and the Old West Cowboy Store, Cave Creek is built around a theme. It’s also the place to find fancy Western accoutrements: Check out Valerie’s, which sells pricey Stetson sofa throws and leather Arabian horse pillows.
The Cowboy Restaurant & Brewery, 20751 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale (480) 502-5557
Bales of hay line the patio and paintings of ranchers and cowboys decorate the walls. The barbecue selection and rattlesnake bites make even the most urban visitor feel like John Wayne, but dishes like the Kobe beef meatloaf keep it upscale for the tenderfoot.
Reata Pass Cowboy Steakhouse, 27500 N. Alma School Road,
Scottsdale (480) 585-7277
An Arizona landmark, this is thought to be a former stagecoach stop on the way from Phoenix to Fort McDowell; it also showed up in the film "Raising Arizona." Don’t dare wear a fancy necktie or they’ll cut it off.
7777 S. Pointe Parkway West, Phoenix (602) 431-6474
Sawdust on the floor, drinks in Mason jars, a twostory slide for the kids, Fred Flintstone-size slabs of ribs and gigantic steaks make this place kitschy fun for everyone.
1 Main St., Tortilla Flat
The town of Tortilla Flat is one of the most authentic Western experiences you can have in Arizona. It’s the only surviving stagecoach stop along the Apache Trail and dates from 1904. There’s an old-fashioned boardwalk with a general store, ice cream parlor (try the prickly pear) and the Superstition Saloon, featuring juicy burgers, great chili and — most fun of all — saddle bar stools that give a new meaning to "getting back on the horse." Find it all on state Route 88, two miles past Canyon Lake.
Graham Central Station, 7850 S. Priest Drive, Tempe (480) 496-0799
Formerly called Rockin’ Rodeo, this megabar now also offers karaoke, hip-hop and ’80s music, but it still has mechanical bull riding and line dancing in the country and western venue. Cowboy hats are de rigueur, but so are thongs and wet T-shirts on contest nights.
Waltz & Weiser Saloon at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, 6902 E. Greenway Parkway Phoenix (480) 624-1000
Made to look like an old mine shaft, the saloon is named after the pair who — according to legend — discovered and stashed gold in the Superstition Mountains. You won’t find gold nuggets here, just a Wild West atmosphere and classy cocktails.
Goldfield Ghost Town & Mine Tours, 4650 N. Mammoth Mine Road, Apache Junction (480) 983-0333 or www.goldfieldghosttown.com
This reconstructed 1890s ghost town at the foot of the Superstition Mountains is corny yet cool. In addition to the obligatory ice cream parlor and tourist shops, there’s a bordello museum, Superstition Mountain museum and a live reptile exhibit featuring rattlesnakes, scorpions and a Gila monster. It’s free to stroll the town, but there’s a charge for extras such as mine tours, gold panning and horseback riding.
Rawhide Wild West Town,
23023 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
(480) 502-5600 or www.rawhide.com
Rodeo grounds, staged gunfights, stuntmen, horseback riding, an Old West-style Main Street, theater-style entertainment, stagecoach rides, bull riding and gold panning are just some of the draws here. If you need some grub, plan to stay for mesquite-grilled Western specialties at the steakhouse, which offers live country-western music. Free admission; some events such as cookouts are extra. Call for hours, which change daily through the holidays.
16601 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale
Home to many of the area’s horse shows, WestWorld is offering an extra bang this weekend with the 10th annual Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association World Championships. About 250 mounted shooters from around the globe will be outfitted in cowboy regalia and compete with old-time .45-caliber six-guns and champion horses for more than $50,000 in prizes!
Admission is a toy or canned good for charity. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through Sunday. For information on the event, call (602) 565-5785.
Saba’s Western Stores
have East Valley locations in Cave Creek, Chandler, Mesa and Scottsdale
There are probably as many places to get Western wear in the Valley as there are flies on a bull’s behind. But Saba’s, "Arizona’s Original Western Store," has been in town since 1927 to put it in perspective. Customers now arrive in SUVs instead of on horseback, but you can still find good-looking and longlasting classic cowboy couture.