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.
Alchemy Restaurant at CopperWynd's floor-to-ceiling windows slide open, unveiling the Sonoran Desert. Depending on the time of day, guests may see snow-capped peaks holding up an azure sky, or perhaps a thin ribbon of orange from the sun's last rays brushing over the mountaintops.
This setting is a worthy pairing to chef Paul O'Connor's artfully plated New American cuisine, from an open-faced pecan trout sandwich for lunch to pan-seared duck breast during dinner. Regardless of the dish, he prepares each one largely from local ingredients.
Besides dramatic views from its stylish dining room, the restaurant also extends to a wraparound patio that overlooks the resort's manicured grounds. An adjacent wine bar doles out drinks to be enjoyed while you?re soaking in panoramic vistas on the patio or using the fireplace to burn Polaroid snapshots that don't do the views justice. These majestic environs earned the restaurant a diners' choice award for both Best Ambiance and Scenic View on OpenTable.
It's hard to define the vibe at American Junkie. Is it a sports pub? Is it a dance club? A craft-beer bar? In truth, it's a bit of all of these things, with the atmosphere and activities changing from the time it opens to the closing of the doors late into the night (3 p.m.?10 p.m. on Sundays or until 4 p.m.?2 a.m. Wednesday?Saturday). Oftentimes, the cheers of sports fans ring out as they follow American Junkie's resident teams: the Seattle Seahawks and the Ohio State University Buckeyes. The 20 HD plasma TVs also beam all the major UFC, boxing, and tickle fights.
Beneath several of the screens stretches a circular bar, where bartenders mix cocktails and pour all-American spirits?including craft beers, whiskey, bourbon, and wines sourced from California. But those drinks only account one part of American Junkie's menu. The rest comes from the kitchen, where chefs bake pizzas over mesquite wood, make grilled cheese sandwiches with gouda and crisp green apple slices, and slather ribs in barbecue sauce.
Meals often begin with housemade potato chips (complete with blue cheese dressing for dipping) and end in something truly decadent: a dessert called Half Baked. Vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup cover a half pound of cookie dough, which is baked in a deep-dish pan.
El Hefe combines the best of two worlds—the rhythmic dance tracks and drinks of a lively nightclub, and the meaty, peppery cuisine of Mexico and the American Southwest. Quesadillas filled with shredded chicken tinga and prime steak tortas pair perfectly with sports on flatscreen TVs or icy chelada cocktails. Revelers lounge in wraparound booths covered with funky floral prints and gold lamé, helping themselves to pints of beer from the tableside taps, which eliminate the long waits and intricate hand signals required to order at a noisy bar. And as diners chat, servers carry out rustic wooden trays bearing treasures of angus beef burgers topped with jalapeno marmalade, tacos filled with duck carnitas or pork al pastor, and Sonoran-style hot dogs wrapped in bacon and smothered in tomatillo avocado salsa.
Nighttime finds DJs spinning club music as lights swirl above the dance floor, bathing revelers in rhythmic beats and streaks of neon. Party guests toast potent house tequila cocktails or fishbowl glasses of beergarita--garnished with a dusting of salt and an upside-down bottle of beer.
If the name 5th and Wine doesn’t give away the restaurant’s specialty, maybe the wine barrel guarding the front door might. Or possibly the selection of more than 40 wines available by the glass, including reds and whites from around the world and 5th and Wine’s very own sangria. Those libations––along with specialty cocktails such as a black-cherry manhattan or root-beer martini––complement a menu of seafood, steaks, and burgers made with beef, elk, and bison patties.
Inside the 60-seat dining space, arched beams frame the room and a chalkboard wall displays daily drink specials and upcoming sets from local musicians. In front of the floor-to-ceiling windows, comfy couches and chairs carve out a post-meal lounge area, along with a murphy bed for guests who know which window to punch. Additionally, a 40-seat tasting room indulges guests with red leather chairs and the aroma of an old-fashioned popcorn machine at work. Diners can also enjoy their meal on the courtyard patio where an awning shades meals during the day and strings of lights brighten up the night.:m]]