If you’re in Arizona and you’re feeling hungry, there are plenty of places you could head to for a delicious dinner. But if you’re hungry for an experience that’s not only rich in flavor, but also in historical heritage, head to one of these five historic restaurants that have been around for generations.
Arizona has its share of excellent restaurants to choose from. But there are also some amazing dining experiences at historic restaurants. Here are 5 of them.
1. Mormon Lake Lodge Steakhouse
This restaurant in Mormon Lake has been around since 1924! It was originally founded by a man from Chandler, Arizona, who named it Tombler’s Lodge. Not only could you bring your wife and kids for a hearty meal, but you could duck into the attached saloon and have a drink or two as well.
This establishment almost saw it’s final day on July 4, 1974, when it caught fire and burnt to the ground as a result of a faulty heater. This sure dampened the excitement of the Verde Valley Sherrif’s Possee who had gathered for the world’s largest jackpot team-roping contest. Luckily, the townspeople loved this restaurant so much that they all banded together to rebuilt it –and quickly. They had it up and running again by Labor Day Weekend for the next roping event. If you explore the inside of the lodge, you’ll see the branding symbols of all of the ranchers who helped save this restaurant so that we can still enjoy it today!
2. Palace Restaurant & Saloon
If you’re hoping to find the most historic dining experience in Arizona, this place is the oldest of the old. This establishment has been in Prescott since 1877! Fun food experience is in store if you head on over to Whiskey Row. This is where notable names like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday often spent their evenings, making this one of the most historic restaurants in Arizona.
Apparently, all of the tasty eateries in Arizona are prone to catching fire, because this restaurant and saloon were also burned down in a fire. Hilariously enough, this fire led to a legendary story that has been retold for years since. When the establishment caught fire, the patrons at the bar, unwilling to led it to ruin their festive evening, simply picked up the carved, mahogany bar and transported it out into the street. From there, they finished their drinks and watched the rest of the bar burn. It was less than a year before the saloon and restaurant were rebuilt and thriving again. You can still eat there today!
3. Rock Springs Cafe
Located north of Phoenix in Rock Springs, this Cafe has an incredibly long and varied history. As far back as the 1800s, this spot was an important stop on a stagecoach route. The building itself has been around since 1918 when Ben Warner founded a business named Rock Springs. Warner’s undertaking continued to develop. Morphing and growing from a makes shift store housed in a canvas tent, to a general store, a hotel, and a saloon. As time passed, the Rock Springs Cafe gained an impressive reputation which meant that film stars like Tom Mix and Jean Harlow visited there.
Two things tend to tempt customers to visit this enduring establishment. One is the water, sourced from a natural rock spring nearby. The second is the famous delicious pie. Flavors like apple, blackberry, lemon meringue, chocolate cream, rhubarb crumb, and Jack Daniel’s-spiked pecan are made from secret recipes that have been passed down for years and years. Try a slice and find out for yourself if this cafe is the home of the best pie in the state.
4. Charlie Clark’s Steakhouse
Charlie Clark’s takes the title of the seventh oldest steakhouse in Arizona. Not only that, but it’s the oldest continually operating steakhouse in the White Mountains of Arizona. The building started out as a speakeasy. However, after the repeal of Prohibition, Jake Renfro sold it to Charlie Clark in 1938.
Under Charlie’s ownership, things weren’t quite like other restaurants. In fact, Charlie did everything himself, including preparing all of the meals fresh. So, if you ordered dinner here, you had to watch the bar while he cut meat, peeled potatoes, and mixed up a salad for your meal. It might not have been the fastest meal you ever received, but Charlie’s dinners were always hot, fresh, tasty, and delivered with a smile. Charlie Clark is gone today. And if you go for some grub and a drink here, you probably won’t have to tend the bar. But you’re still guaranteed a delicious meal and an awesome atmosphere!
5. El Charro Cafe
Gourmet Magazine named El Charro Cafe “One of America’s 21 Most Legendary Restaurants.” This historic restaurant has been around since 1922, which makes them the nation’s oldest continuously operated Mexican restaurant. Even more impressively, it’s been operated by the same family for the whole time! They use handcrafted recipes and local ingredients that feature a traditional northern Mexico-Sonoran style with Tuscan influences. Many people believe this restaurant is the original inventor of the chimichanga.
El Charro Cafe’s list of awards is lengthy. So, whether you’re trying the famous chimichangas or one of their other unique dishes, you can bet you’re in for an awesome meal. In fact, people travel from all across the country to check out this Mexican food lover’s paradise. El Charro Cafe is always happy to defend their reputation, so head on over!