If Arizona restaurants are trying to demonstrate that theme restaurants aren't just for kids, then they’re succeeding. These establishments bring entertainment and delicious eats to customers of all ages and interests. There are plenty of the Southwestern staples and steakhouses, but the spots on this list also go above and beyond.
Whether you're visiting the Valley or a local diner, be sure to check out these 10 best theme restaurants in metro Phoenix.
The Duce is the perfect place to take your friends or family who can’t seem to make up their minds. The downtown restaurant is a veritable shopping mall of different food and drink options, stores, and even exercise areas. The menu ranges from home-cooked Southern favorites like mac and cheese muffins to brisket sliders, and at night, the spot turns into a Prohibition-era themed bar complete with discounted beverages and activities for all. Like it’s food menu, the drinks range from affordable cans to intricate cocktails. There's also a boxing gym right in the middle of the space. Perhaps even more enticing (and dangerous) than the boxing ring after a few drinks is the shop in the corner of the place, which offers clothing and home décor at surprisingly reasonable prices.
Organ Stop Pizza
Production of the Mighty Wurlitzer piano ceased in 1943, but one restaurant in the Valley boasts an original model and treats guests to a concert each night. At Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa, guests can enjoy a side of music played by three critically acclaimed musicians with their meal. The musicians play on an elevated stage that even transforms into a light show on occasion. Tunes include classics for adults and familiar tunes for the kids — and for the little ones with short attention spans, there’s also an arcade to keep 'em busy. The two-story restaurant accommodates larger parties, but is suitable for groups of all sizes. And the family-style dining carries into the kitchen, where the staff creates eight-, 12-, and 14-inch pizzas of your choosing. There are also pastas and gluten-free options, just be sure to bring cash and checks as the restaurant doesn't accept debit or credit cards.
Hula’s Modern Tiki
Mad Men fans would be remiss to skip out on Hula’s Modern Tiki.The 50s Hawaiian-inspired restaurant serves Polynesian fare and creative cocktails that appeal to every taste. Patrons of all age are welcome, as the menu caters to kids and adults looking to branch out of the ordinary. A sleek dining room and bar create a luau vibe that's anything but kitschy. Tiki masks decorate the walls, but don't expect grass skirts or "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on repeat in the background. Hula’s currently has two locations, one in Old Town Scottsdale and the original restaurant in midtown Phoenix. Hours vary depending on location, but both are open for lunch, dinner and after-dinner drinks, as well as weekend brunches.
The Stockyards Restaurant and 1889 Saloon
The Stockyard is an embodiment of the classy cowboy joint, meaning you'll want to shine your boots a bit before visiting this one. Locally known as Arizona’s original steakhouse, The Stockyards has served classic Western dishes since 1947. Listed in the state's Historical Register, The Stockyards was built on the famous Tovrea Land and Cattle Company's property. After a fire in the 50s and a renovation in the early aughts, the restaurant has remained a staple in the local scene. The kitchen covers everything you would expect from a steakhouse, but ups the ante with some more exciting options including elk, buffalo, and boar. And if you like Rocky Mountain oysters, you might try the "calf fries," which follow the same recipe but come from a younger cow.
Rustler's Rooste is likely the most carefree cowboy bar you'll ever visit. The massive restaurant offers steak dinners, fish options, ribs, and rattle snake, plus, every table gets a hearty post-dinner serving of cotton candy. Inside the restaurant, you can wander around two stories and slide down the famous slide. Outside, you can hang out on the balcony, where you can catch a nice view of Arizona's mountains and — if you time it right — a breathtaking sunset. It's a family friendly spot, and can be reserved for private parties or receptions. The saloon opens at 4 p.m. and stays open late; the steakhouse serves from 5 to 10 p.m. Oh, and don't forget to say "Hi" to Horney the Bull at some point while you're there. You can't miss him.
MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain and Espresso Bar
For those looking to step back in time and enjoy an ice cream soda or homemade cherry Coke, MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain and Espresso Bar in Central Phoenix is the place to go. The small restaurant, flanked by a vintage clothing shop and home décor store, serves an array of old school meals ranging from hot sandwiches to comfort food-based meals, but truly excels in its construction of desert-based drinks. Guests can get the full experience by playing the shop's old jukebox, which carries all the biggest hits from the 50s and 60s. Pin curls are encouraged, but not required.
Musician Alice Cooper not only hails from Phoenix, he's arguably one of the state's proudest exports. He organizes multiple charity events around town and gifted Phoenix with his "jock-meets-rock" restaurant, Alice Cooperstown in downtown Phoenix. Naturally, it's a restaurant for those who appreciate pop and sports culture. Hungry guests receive generous portions and can admire the endless knick knacks signed by various rock stars and athletes. The menu offers the usual fare you'd expect from a bar, but does include an extensive list of barbecue entrees. It's totally kid-friendly (provided your kid isn't afraid of servers with Cooper's famous dark eye makeup) and the restaurant's location makes it especially convenient for those about to attend a concert or sporting event downtown.
As you drive up Cave Creek Road and pass through the arid desert landscape, you’ll eventually find yourself in a town full of colorful vintage shops and cafes. You’ll also eventually become surrounded by dive bars, each one boasting the best food and strongest drinks. It’s very important that you drive past them and turn right into Harold’s Cave Creek Corral. You can’t miss it; it has the biggest sign out front and looks the most authentic. The drive out to Harold’s Corral is an clue to the atmosphere you’ll find at the cowboy bar and restaurant. Harrold's usually houses a relaxed, but colorful crowd who seem to know each other and yet accept everyone as family — especially if you’re a Steelers fan. You can get traditional cowboy dishes (meaning countless types of steaks and other various red meats), and pretty much guaranteed a cold beer. Still not convinced? Well, there's an in-house popcorn machine, and after dark, Harold’s turns into a honky tonk haven for those looking to two-step their troubles away.
Culinary Dropout at The Yard
The Yard is a restaurant designed to look like — you guessed it — a backyard. Both the Tempe and Phoenix locations provide guests with all kinds of yard games such as cornhole, giant Jenga, and ping pong, plus drink deals that’ll make you feel like you're drinking at home. During the day, you can find charcuterie boards and loaded sandwiches, while the dinner menu incorporates hearty classics like the 36-hour pork ribs and rainbow trout. Over the weekend, you can start your day with dishes like Captain Crunch French toast and a little hair of the dog. There’s live music on Friday and Saturday and on Sundays, the Yard’s kitchen staff cooks up tailgate favorites and classic cocktails, all of which are under $10. For those with with more simplistic tastes, there also the surprise can of beer that comes with the $1.95 paper bag special.
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Rawhide isn't just a themed restaurant; it's a themed town. Relocated to Chandler from north Scottsdale in 2006, the little Western town has everything you could need for a night of cowboy fun and flair. There are bars, a jailhouse, and gift shops, but what really stands out is the massive steakhouse. The Rawhide Steakhouse and Saloon is decorated with vintage instruments and hunting trophies, as well as the mandatory wagon wheels and boot spurs. Full disclosure: the portions are big. Steak sizes range from six to 16 ounces and, for those who live to compete, there's the Ultimate Cowboy Challenge. Hopefuls for the challenge should anticipate eating three pounds of steak in 45 minutes or less. Other menu favorites include the Rawhide Rattlesnake (it tastes like chicken) and the bacon-wrapped meatloaf. Though there are honky tonk bars and saloons inside the restaurant, Rawhide is family friendly, and kids menus are available.