Before the mechanical bull, cowboys simulated riding a bucking bronco by dressing a sturdy-boned, Red Bull–fueled child in a horse costume. Enjoy a refined riding machine with today's deal: for $15, you get $30 worth of southwestern cuisine and cocktails at Johnny Utah's on 51st Street, just a strong-armed stone's throw from Rockefeller Center.
Johnny Utah's is a 6000-square-foot restaurant and bar that's more full sensory experience and less staid sit-down nosh. A hearty menu of authentic southwestern comestibles provides palate-pleasing portions for sating raging bull appetites. Start with southern hushpuppies ($9), jalapeno and sweet corn fritters served with maple crème fraiche dipping sauce, or keep it light with a billy goat salad ($12) strewn with imported goat cheese, candied pecans, sun-dried cranberries, and honey Dijon balsamic vinaigrette on baby spinach. Scout out the Calamity Jane Cubano sandwich ($15) for a tender mouthful of roasted pork, grilled ham, and melted Swiss cheese topped with crunchy pickles, yellow onions, house mustard, and mayo, all pressed on fresh hero bread. Alternately, an entree of slow-cooked baby back ribs ($26) slathered in house barbecue sauce provides enough meat to fuel a futuristic meat car; ride off into the sunset and finish the evening with a classic slice of red velvet cake ($8).
Johnny Utah's environs are full to burst with color and character. High ceilings, rough hewn wood, and countless splashes of bold patterns against neutral hues characterize the aesthetic, which taken together feels like a 19th-century roadhouse built for a wealthy pork-bellies baron. The centerpiece of this glorious banquet table is Manhattan's original mechanical bull, which sits in the middle of its own rodeo ring, waiting to buck any customer with the gall to climb atop its steely flanks. Gird your appetite and thrillcitement nodes alike for an evening of cocktails, beer, good eats, and theatrical flare with a visit to Johnny Utah's.
Reservations required after 6 p.m.
Johnny Utah's has received numerous mentions in the local press, including features by NY1 and Zagat and the New York Daily News. Time Out named riding the bull at Johnny Utah's one of the 1,000 Things to Do in New York. Zagat gives the food a 14 rating in its Restaurant rating and gives the appeal a 20 in its Nightlife rating. More than 100 Yelpers give it a three-star average, and Citysearchers give it an average of four stars.
- Good fun and the mechanical bull is only half the enjoyment- food & drink complete it. – JaneK8399, Zagat
- Now this is what an after-work bar should be like. A large space, great happy hour specials, and maybe some entertainment of someone riding a mechanical bull. – David W., Yelp
- Juniors Desserts + Bull Riding + Happy Hour Prices + Sliders + Girls + Fajitas + Music = BEST PLACE EVER. – ladiesman11, Citysearch
From the menu to the atmosphere, Johnny Utah's fully inhabits the American Southwest. Named after such Wild West icons as Calamity Jane and Billy the Kid, food items range from slow-cooked pulled pork to steak, chicken, or jumbo-shrimp fajitas. High ceilings and rough-hewn wood surround the spacious restaurant, imbuing it with the feel of a 19th-century roadhouse built for a wealthy lasso baron. In the center of the room, fenced within a rodeo ring, sleeps one of the few mechanical bulls in all of Manhattan, ready to buck any customer with the courage to climb atop its steely flanks.