Welcome to Dining Guides, an intermittent series on the many dining hubs around the greater Phoenix area and what they have to offer. Breakfast to drinks, quick coffee to sit-down dining, we break down some of our favorite places in each neighborhood. Today, we zero in on Cave Creek.
Cave Creek is one of the most adorable cities in metropolitan Phoenix — and we don't mean that in any kind of patronizing way. It’s tough, sure, with its biker bars and cowboy steaks. But the overall scenery coupled with the greasy spoon diners, merry cantinas, and Old West restaurants makes for one of the most pleasant dining destinations around. In recent years, the main drag has boomed, sprouting everything from coffeehouses to pizza joints and pubs.
If you plan to spend the day in this historic town, here’s where to fuel up in between antique shops.
Janey's Coffee Co. & Bodega6602 East Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
For that home-away-from-home coffee shop feel, Janey's Coffee Co. & Bodega is a creative space to sip, work, meet, and hear live music. The menu lists everything from drip coffee to flavored lattes and Javaccino, plus breakfast and lunch items, beer, and cocktails.
The Village Coffee Shop7100 East Cave Creek Road, #138, Cave Creek
Found in Stagecoach Village at the east end of the main drag, The Village Coffee Shop is a mashup of a coffeehouse and a colorful diner. Expect extravagant latte art, fruit crepes, and gluten-free options.
Local Jonny's6033 East Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
For those hunting a unique breakfast experience, Local Jonny's offers a from-scratch menu of first meal items, including pesto oatmeal, veggie breakfast burritos, and Jonny’s famous pancakes. Lunch items are also available, as well as — as the sign would imply — coffee and beer.
Oak's Diner & Flapjacks6219 East Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
Find a classic American breakfast menu at Oak's Diner & Flapjacks. We’re talking eggs, bacon, coffee, and the famous apple pancake.
The Grotto Café6501 East Cave Creek Road, #8, Cave Creek
You can’t beat breakfast on this patio. The family-owned Grotto Café offers quick-service bagels and pastries, as well as bowls, breakfast burritos, and biscuits and gravy.
Wagon Wheel Restaurant36457 North Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
Wagon Wheel Restaurant's team says its “focus is on delicious food with an aged country atmosphere.” Walk in as early as 6 a.m. for chicken-fried steak, corned beef hash, three-egg omelets, and steak and eggs platters for proof.
Big Earl's Greasy Eats6135 East Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
It’s easy to spot Big Earl's Greasy Eats — an iconic gas station-turned-eatery that’s been around since 2002. While there are many menu items, its chief order is a hamburger. Choose from third-pounds to half-pounds, make it a double or triple, or go with the veggie or turkey option. And if you can’t decide, just try the Big Earl Burger.
Indian Village6746 East Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
You could very well go inside Indian Village and not realize there's a small restaurant in the back of the shop. Your options are Native American, Mexican, or a combination of both. Think freshly fried taco shells stuffed with your choice of chicken or beef, topped with lettuce and tomatoes. And if you like crunchy tacos, you will now be looking no further.
Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue6130 East Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
For classic yet exceptional barbecue around here, you can’t go wrong with owner-chef Bryan Dooley’s own Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue. The tight menu offers everything from barbecue chicken and pork ribs to brisket sandwiches and Our Famous Olive Coleslaw. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are there, too.
The Horny Toad6738 East Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
One could argue the best place to be in Cave Creek is before a basket of fried chicken on the patio at The Horny Toad. The Cave Creek fixture has roots going back to 1976, and the still family-owned eatery has a brand-new saloon to boot.
Vino & Panino6920 East Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
If you’re looking for a '70s-themed panini and wine spot in Cave Creek, you probably already know about Vino & Panino. The small sandwich shop is run by the Castellanos, and visitors are free to hang out, work, or take in an episode of Gilligan’s Island.
Mountain View Pub7033 East Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
Sometimes, a huge Guinness banner is what you need to help you decide where to go for an after-work beer. Cue Mountain View Pub — definitely the token Irish bar on the strip with beers, wings, and an occasionally rowdy crowd. But there’s one thing MVP has other bars don’t — an incredibly scenic view from its bankside balcony.
Brugo's Pizza Co & Bistro7100 East Cave Creek Road, #150, Cave Creek
This family-owned gourmet pizza shop has quite a happy hour. Set in the Stagecoach Village, Brugo's Pizza Co & Bistro has daily specials from 4 to 6 p.m., including beer deals, $5 glasses of wine, and $5 cocktails like the blue agave margarita and Dino’s Martini.
Cave Creek Beer Company7100 East Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
Happy hour at the Cave Creek Beer Company happens every weekday from 3 to 6 p.m. Which means you're free to load up on the Arizona Honey Wheat ale or the Cave Creek Gold Rush Belgian Strong. And despite "beer" being in the name, the CCBC also offers craft cocktails like The Creeker (with chile-infused Aperol) and the Oaxacan Bunny (mezcal, churro syrup, and more).
Pomodoro Italian Grill & Seafood6710 East Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
Pomodoro Italian Grill & Seafood, set in the adobe-style building, is an upscale retreat for wine, pasta, and seafood. Initially, your white tablecloth should present a craft cocktail (recommended: the Viola Vesper, named for Executive Chef Viola Tagliaferri), some warm Gnocco Fritto, and maybe the brown-bagged calamari. Then go for the veal dishes with that garlic and oil spaghetti, or maybe the ravioli lobster. Finally, don’t, “Check, please,” without trying the to-die-for cannoli.
Ofrenda7100 East Cave Creek Road, #151, Cave Creek
Cave Creek's main drag is also home to the Latin-influenced restaurant called Ofrenda (or “offering”) opened by the same team behind Taco Guild. The eatery offers an extensive wine, tequila, and cocktail list, as well as pork empanada, lobster tacos, and Tomahawk steak.
El Encanto6248 East Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
El Encanto is probably the most recognizable restaurant in Cave Creek thanks to its yellow archway entrance and huge, painted-on sign, or the fact it's been there since 1989. This Old World mission-style restaurant offers traditional Mexican fare in the form of enchiladas de pollo con mole, pollo fundido, and shrimp tacos. And bank on top-notch margaritas.
Harold's Cave Creek Corral6895 East Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
No need to run down a chuckwagon for a classic cowboy dinner — just hook into Harold's Cave Creek Corral. Sure, there’re flatscreens at the bar, live music, a popcorn machine, and some big-time Steelers fans, but there’s also a formal dining room with a fireplace and a hell of a dinner menu. Find the rib-eye steak (a Harold’s favorite) plus marinated pork chops, Atlantic salmon, filet mignon, and half-racks of beef ribs. Besides, Harold’s is a Cave Creek landmark dating back to 1935, and therefore a must-visit.
Le Sans Souci7030 East Bella Vista Drive, Cave Creek
Le Sans Souci has been the obvious spot for French cuisine in Cave Creek since 1995. The classic French restaurant offers main course like trout meuniere, double French lamb chops, and filet de sole meuniere, plus a variety of desserts like the Parfait Maison and of course a crème brulée. For an after-dinner café, the Cappuccino Sans Souci is at the ready.
Tonto Bar & Grill5736 E Rancho Manana Blvd, Cave Creek
Tonto Bar & Grill offers all kinds of Arizona fare on its menu. As in, aside from Prescott-based beef, find ocotillo flowers, cholla buds, jojoba beans, saguaro fruit, prickly pear fruit, palm dates, and Hopi tea. Try unique starters and entrees like the tortilla-crusted crab cakes, the Tonto Burger, Arizona Artisan Pasta, and coffee and port-braised boneless short rib. Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, and mocktail options are also available.
The City Creamery6268 East Cave Creek Road, #8, Cave Creek
Every visitor-friendly part of town has a homemade ice cream shop, and The City Creamery is Cave Creek’s. Daily-made, small-batch, hand-churned ice cream comes in fun flavors like candied jalapeno, cowboy coffee, and huckleberry honey and lavender. Shakes, sundaes, and sodas are also available anytime.
The Hideaway Grill6746 East Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
With directions like “somewhere in Cave Creek, Arizona,” you can’t sleep on checking out a place like The Hideaway Grill. It’s dark, it’s motorcycle-friendly, it’s got dollar bills all over the ceiling, and it offers a small menu of greasy eats. It’s perfect.
Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse6823 East Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
You’ve been waiting for this one. Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse is a go-to drinking spot and for good reason. If you’re trying to sauce up before, during, or after the dancing lessons, live music, bull riding, or the Packers game, Buffalo Chip has a full bar, loads of beer, and an encouraging staff.
Editor's note: This story was originally published on January 10, 2020. It was updated on December 28, 2020.
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