Plenty of terrific cowboy eateries around Pinnacle Peak in Arizona.
We had a hankering for a taste of the Ol’ West. The kind of ‘flavor’ that comes from stick-to-your ribs grub served in a laid-back country atmosphere.
And, that’s just what we found at three Scottsdale, Arizona, eateries during a road trip through Arizona’s Valley of the Sun. All were within a few miles of each other and somewhat clustered near that iconic 3,171-foot high chunk of granite, Pinnacle Peak. Each place had a contingent of ‘regulars’ and it only took a couple of visits for us to feel like regulars as well.
We can thank some foodie friends for telling us we had to eat at The Pinnacle Peak General Store. The same friends cautioned us not to be put off by the General Store’s gas station or convenience store, because they assured us the food served in the café (to the side of the gift/grocery store) was ‘really good.’
They were right. We breakfasted at the café on three successive mornings. We were never able to pass up Huevos Rancheros, thick stuffed omelet’s, or pancakes or wait a few hours for their lunch menu items, like the hamburger platter or their home-style Cowboy Chili.
While interior tables overlook an old-fashioned soda fountain, we opted to dine at umbrella-shaded tables in the sun-dappled courtyard of this Spanish-hacienda-style complex. Nowadays the store is surrounded by residential sub-divisions, but, back in 1977 when the General Store opened, it was alongside a dirt road that led to nearby Pinnacle Peak Patio and Reata Pass. It was the first store and post office in this once sparsely settled area of 200 families. The post office still operates within the store.
A little more than four miles away, the Pinnacle Peak Patio, a steakhouse and microbrewery, sits at the base of Pinnacle Peak. It opened in 1957 as a general store and rest stop. Sometime during those early years the owner started serving dinners on the weekend and the rest, as they say, is history.
It feels somewhat like entering an Old West movie set, pulling up to the sprawling wood-frame building, so large it could house a small frontier town. Its interior is a maze of various-sized dining areas; enough seating for 1,800. An adjacent patio is filled with picnic tables that can seat 2,000.
Although the steakhouse can accommodate huge groups, we’ve been there several times over the years and have yet to feel over-run by carnivores. (If they were there, they were tucked away in other dining areas.)
We prefer to belly up to the small inside bar where locals congregate at the end of the work day. We’ve learned much about the ranching and rodeo life from those bar stool conversations. Happy Hour (4 p.m. – 6 p.m. Mon.- Fri.) features $3 domestic or microbrews – like Gunslinger Stout or Cowboy Blonde Ale – $4 well drinks and wine, and half-priced appetizers.
Country memorabilia and collections covering the walls at Pinnacle Peak Patio can’t compete with the attention-getting men’s ties and business cards stapled by the thousands to the ceiling. Decades ago, according to legend, a Phoenix “city slicker” came in wearing a necktie that the restaurant’s owner asked him to remove it because it didn’t fit in the casual atmosphere. The executive declined, so the owner cut it off with a butcher knife. The tie and business card were displayed and a tradition began – although scissors are used these days to remove the ties.
While the live country music and country-eclectic atmosphere are fun, it is the food that continues to bring us back. I am drawn to the Barbequed Burger (1/2 lb patty, with chipotle barbeque sauce, American cheese and bacon); my husband goes for those mesquite grilled steaks. We of us both love the ribs. And those simple Cowboy Beans served as a side with the meals can’t be beat.
Greasewood Flat, just a couple miles beyond the steakhouse, sits in the shadow of the Reata Pass water tower. For decades, its variety of burgers (i.e. the Bacon Green Chili Cheeseburger), and brews, have been favorites in these parts.
There’s also live music and dancing by the patio fires at this corral-sized outdoor eatery bordered with antique farming equipment and a 130-year-old bunkhouse. Gates open at 11 a.m. daily, but the live music doesn’t get underway until later in the day Wednesdays through Sundays.
If You Go:
The Cafe at Pinnacle Peak, 8711 E. Pinnacle Peak Road, Scottsdale, is open daily for home-style American western breakfast and lunch, from 7:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.. 480-991-1822. (Those 55 and over get a 10% discount). www.pinnaclepeakgeneralstore.com
The Original Pinnacle Peak Patio Steakhouse and Microbrewery, 10426 E. Jomax Road, Scottsdale, 480-615-1113, www.pppatio.com
Greasewood Flat, 27375 N. Alma School Parkway, 85262, 480-585-9430, www.greasewoodflat.net Check the web for live music times. – Story and Photos by Jackie Smith
Joel and Jackie Smith