Editor's Note: For an updated list of theme restaurants, check out our 2015 list of 10 Best Theme Restaurants in Metro Phoenix.
Because sometimes a great meal just doesn't cut it.
Think about it — what if FnB had a giant slide in the middle of the dining room? Or if Pizzeria Bianco did dinner theater? Super-fun, right?
Okay, we love our upscale eateries exactly how they are (and we do not want them to change a thing), but that doesn't mean we can't appreciate a little mechanical bull riding with a giant steak every once in a while.
Here are our 10 favorite restaurants that serve up the food with a side of fun.
10. Rustler's Rooste, Phoenix — This Western-themed eatery isn't your run-of-the-mill steakhouse. No, sir, this place has its very own giant slide and a real live steer that greets you at the door. Family-owed and -operated since 1971, Ruster's Rooste has been a go-to spot for family fun with a great view. The two-story restaurant and saloon is situated on a small mountain (maybe more of a hill) in the midst of the Arizona Grand resort. Adults can sip on Reposado margaritas while taking in a beautiful Western sunset, the kiddos can entertain the idea of eating rattlesnake and play on the big metal slide, and everyone will leave full and happy.
9. GameWorks, Tempe — Sometimes we like to get down with a little video game action. But we aren't going to make the trip to Arizona Mills for just video games — we're going to need a couple strong cocktails and a tangy pulled pork sandwich. This Tempe video game geek institution always has the best games and makes a great spot to bring a fun-loving date or let the kids play their video game-loving hearts out while you spend some quality time with your significant other over a better than expected dinner. Check out GameWorks' Facebook page for weekly dinner deals.
8. Black Bart's Steakhouse, Flagstaff — We tend to throw the term "tucked away" around a little too much, but this cozy cabin-style restaurant is literally "tucked away" — in an R.V. park. Black Bart's is hidden among the trees and the trailers of Flagstaff and employs a secret weapon of highly talented NAU students with an affinity for show tunes who like to bust out in song at various times during your meal. The perfect out-of-town spot to enjoy a well cooked steak and a well sung show tune or six, this place is worth the hunt. It's an experience every Arizonan should have at least once in his or her lifetime!
7. Studio Movie Grill, Scottsdale — We have mixed views on dining while movie viewing but of all the new dine-in movie theaters out there, Studio Movie Grill serves up a top-notch experience. Start off with a refreshing cocktail from the extensive drink menu and then choose your meal from a whole bunch of classic dining options. Burger, chicken fingers, tacos, and salads are all made using fresh quality ingredients. Unlike a couple of the other dine-in chains, Studio Grill lets you order anytime during the movie and if things get too graphic on the screen, you can head out to their impressive lobby bar. See also: Our discussion of the relative merits of movie theater dining.
6. Gaslight Theater, Tucson — If you find yourself in Tucson and need a good laugh with your meal, there is no better stop than the famed Gaslight Theater. More than just your typical dinner and a show, the comedy troupe at this performing arts restaurant puts on over-the-top parodies of some of your favorite movies and Broadway plays, including Back to the Past, The Phantom of the Opera, and Wizard of the Rings. The food is guilty-pleasure good (think cheese sticks, pizza, burgers) and even though seating is tight, we guarantee you'll walk away with a smile on your face and a full belly.
5. Saddle Ranch Chop House, Scottsdale — There's nothing like a giant, juicy classic cut of grilled meat to go with a side of mechanical bull riding and we can get our fix of both right in heart of Old Town Scottsdale. Saddle Ranch is the Valley's best rockin' Western hangout and attracts a mixed crowd from shit-kickin' locals to young ladies looking to get their buckin'-bull v-card punched. And in between spins on the ol' steer, folks can grab a carafe of AMFs, giant pitchers (almost illegal in size) of draft beer, and of course, huge steaks.
4. The Duce, Phoenix — Where else can you grab breakfast, a fresh-squeezed mimosa, a super-cute surplus shirt, and a couple of rounds with your buddies in the ring? That's right, only at downtown Phoenix's The Duce. The re-purposed warehouse serves up country-style eats alongside classic cocktails and boxing in their old-style gym. Work up a sweat with the South Central Mad Dogs boxing crew or train one-on-one with their house boxing coach. Re-fuel with a plate of French toast or a rack of smoked ribs. Yum!
3. Lucky Strike Lanes, Phoenix — Leave your preconceived notions of bowling alley food at the glass doors of Phoenix's hippest bowling alley. Lucky Strike Lanes serves up more than spares and strikes, it has an extensive menu of lunch and dinner eats, like savory sliders and crispy coconut shrimp. Pair upscale plates with top-notch cocktails, unique art, and a couple rounds of bowling with your friends. It's a little bit pricier than the AMF around the corner, but it's totally worth the extra pennies for the atmosphere.
2. Organ Stop Pizza, Mesa — This year marks the 40th anniversary of this unique pizza joint, and it's still the only spot in town to take in the sounds of the world's largest Wurlitzer pipe organ. The organ was built in 1927 and brought to Mesa in 1975. The deep sounds pair perfectly with a pepperoni pizza, a bowl of pasta, or a basket of deep-fried cheese and zucchini. The organ makes beautiful music every hour on the hour daily and the 700-seat venue is great for large get-togethers (like kids birthday parties or ironic hipster nights out).
1. Rawhide, Maricopa — Yee-haw! Break out your cowboy boots and bandanas city slickers, it's time for a little ol' timey Western fun. After being saved from doom in North Scottsdale, the relocated Rawhide is bigger and better than ever with more panning for gold, more shoot outs, more crazy cowboy appetizers, and a train. Got a hankerin' for a plate of Rocky Mountain oysters with a side of rattler and a dozen armadillo eggs (jalapeño poppers)? How about a cowboy steak cooked by an actual cowboy? All that and more is waiting for you at this old Western town come to life. Take a spin on Rawhide's mechanical bull, the "Widowmaker," but make sure you take that for a spin before you eat.
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