Homage to the Pink Pony: Top 5 Classic Valley Restaurants

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A little dart of sadness pierced my black heart when I heard that the 61 year old Pink Pony Restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale closed. I loved passing by its salmon pink painted facade with old west saloon style writing...its silhouette of a bucking pony...and the two massive wooden doors open to the main drag on Scottsdale Road...


Plus, my best friend's grandmother used to get hammered there back in the day when she was a beautiful, glamorous (and miserable) Arizona high society 1970's housewife.

Special memories.

If the Pink Pony's closing is carving out the same emotional void in your gut that I'm experiencing, allow me to make a few suggestions of other classic restaurants in this town to ease the suffering.

Just a few drunken steps away from the now-defunct Pink Pony on Scottsdale Road sits one of the Valley's favorite historic destinations, The Sugar Bowl. It's another pink building but instead of finding steaks and booze inside, you'll discover ice cream floats and sundaes. Talk to any native of any age (it was established in 1958) and they'll tell you that just a mere mention of The Sugar Bowl would send any AZ kid into a pants-wetting state of excitement. But the place, decked out in old time-y soda fountain decor, is great for adults, too, as it serves a delicious menu of sweets. Besides, what better way to dry your tears over the Pink Pony than with a spectacular round of binge eating?

If you have a sweet tooth (a.k.a. you're an emotional eater) and you're on the Phoenix side of town, check out Mary Coyle Ol' Fashion Ice Cream Parlor on 7th Ave, just north of Camelback Rd. Boasting an opening date of 1951, Mary Coyle has kept its old fashioned ways by serving American classic-style sandwiches, soups, salads, and, of course, ice cream galore. Go ahead and dig in. They want you to.

There's just no way I could slap this list together without including MacAlpine's Soda Fountain. This baby was birthed way back in 1928 on 7th St. and Oak and is still a popular lunch stop for CenPholks (you like that? I just made it up...CenPho + Folks = CenPholks). Anyway, the vintage restaurant is a rockabilly's dream come true with a swivel-stool lined counter, wood booths and an old school jukebox. Not to mention, it's attached to an antique shop so be sure to bring your unmarried uncle and his "traveling companion" next time you stop for a BLT and a milkshake.

And then there's Durant's. What can I say about this Phoenix gem on 7th St. and Virginia? First off, it has served some of the best steaks in town for over 50 years. But that's not the real reason everyone loves it there. Durant's is all about atmosphere. The walls, booths and dim lights reflect the restaurant's burgundy interior off every patron's face, making each person look all sorts of sexy. Combine that with an order of oysters and a martini and you'll surely make your dining companions uncomfortable. So maybe you shouldn't do that...just get the macaroni and cheese.

A list like this wouldn't be complete without a Mexican food restaurant. And while Phoenix has much to offer (Carolina's and the Tee Pee, for starters), I feel the need to swing back to Scottsdale and talk about Los Olivos Mexican Patio, a neighbor to the late Pink Pony. When it comes to history, you can't beat this place. Established over 50 years ago, it's still run by the Corral family who have lived in Scottsdale since 1917 and named it for the olive trees that used to line 2nd Street. Of course, those trees bit the dust a long time ago but the tasty, Mexican eats remain.

So there you have it. Now please, for the love of all things that are good, go out and spend some money at these spots so they don't die and make me have to blog all over again.

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