Servers and patrons alike crunch across scattered peanut shells on the way to their tables at Teakwoods, a boisterous neighborhood watering hole crowned Best Sports Bar in 2009 by Phoenix New Times. A team of chefs cooks up classic American eats, including half-pound burgers, meaty sandwiches, and their award-winning wings, which can heat up gastro-chambers and cargo-pants pockets with flavors such as medium, hot, and honey-barbecue hot. As bartenders pour draft beers and concoct tasty libations, guests can catch their favorite sporting events on one of many high-definition TVs that broadcast events from the MLB, NFL, and UFC. When guests can't make it to the restaurant, Teakwoods' chefs cater fare to events, gatherings, and parties.
More than three dozen extra-large flat-screen TVs hang from the walls at Blue 32's Phoenix location, where they broadcast every play from major sporting events in crisp detail. In between cheers for their favorite team, diners sample more than two dozen draft beers and upscale pub food such as buffalo-chicken flatbread, seared ahi tuna, and kobe-beef hot dogs. Lounge furniture with plush red cushions dapples Blue 32's stone-paved outdoor patio, where patrons can sip martinis with fresh, muddled strawberries and pass around petitions to house the Olympic flame in the patio's sleek fire pit.
Voted the Best Local Performing Arts Troupe by readers of the East Valley Tribune in 2011, National Comedy Theatre’s ensemble of players concocts improvised situations at lightning-fast speeds, relying on audience participation and their own wits to elicit thunderous laughter and applause. After turning to their all-ages crowd for assistance in shaping games and scenarios, the cast employs knowledge gleaned from operating-room sketches to tickle ribs with anatomical exactitude. The show often favors spontaneity over prudence, with performers gleefully stepping into their roles as acrophobic skydiving champions or long-winded court stenographers. Audience members get to select the winning team at the conclusion of the show, and can learn the form themselves during improv classes.
Imagined and founded by country singer-songwriter Toby Keith, Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill combines Southern-style eats with mason jars full of beer, plus daisy-duke-clad waitresses pouring top-shelf whiskeys. This all takes place beneath complex light and sound systems for the restaurant's full-on concert stage. The staff keeps the calendar stocked with events, hosting sports nights, poker tournaments, karaoke, and live bands such as Due West and Colt Ford. Performers croon, their guitars twang, and the lights dim to shades of purple, blue, and red—colors scientifically proven to make mediocre dancers look like Russian ballet stars.
When both the plasma-screen TVs and stage lie dormant, the entertainment continues aboard the bar's mechanical bull, appropriately dubbed “Toby.” Even ordering a drink comes with the thrill of sidling up to the 85-foot, guitar-shaped bar, originally intended to be strummed by a giant robot Elvis.
Saddle Bronc Grill plunks its guests straight into the middle of a sci-fi western. A hitching post augments the restaurant's saloon-like exterior, where customers are more likely to see motorcycles than horses waiting out front. Napkins have been switched out for bandanas at each table, and the soft glow of 13 flat-screen televisions illuminates the wooden slats of the walls. This blend of genres is no accident—the grill strives to be a country-western bar with all the comforts of the modern era, allowing diners to snack on classic cowboy food even as they follow their favorite sports team. Live bands twang away on weekend evenings, and the Tavern Poker League takes place on Thursday, though players needn't abide by traditional frontier rules that force the loser to eat his own spurs.
The menu, meanwhile, remains faithful to an entirely rustic ambiance. Broasted chicken and flat-iron steaks follow appetizers such as fried onion rings. Side dishes pay homage to the snacks of hungry ranch hands, running the gamut from corn bread and sweet potato fries to a potato-stuffed poblano pepper. To conclude meals, Rock Springs Café populates the Into the Sunset dessert list with a rotating selection of homemade pies.
Though glimpsed by many people for the first time on an episode of The Amazing Race, the desert acres traversed by Fort McDowell Adventures are steeped in millennia of Yavapai Indian history. Guides lead visitors across the Arizonan foothills on a range of outdoorsy and sometimes anachronistic adventures, such as cattle drives and Segway tours through the Sonoran desert, kayaking adventures on the Verde River, and nature walks with Yavapai Indians. These excursions often end in nighttime wiener roasts, s'mores, and cocktails, a break from the frontier tradition of telling campfire sci-fi stories.
Activities at Fort McDowell Adventures’s four venues further immerse guests in the American Western experience. They gather for Dutch oven–style cowboy cookouts and depart for wilderness excursions from The Stables. At La Puesta del Sol, guests pass through a Spanish mission entrance into a dining hall, saloon, stage, and dance floor, and at Rosa's Ranch, they gather under the stars and around cookout fire pits nestled between rustic wooden ranch buildings. Groups dine at The Boulder House, named on the National Registry of Historic Places, whose rock walls bear evidence of petroglyphs, Native American occupation, and ancient spelunking expeditions.