Cave Creek, Arizona’s restaurant culture reflects the rough attitude of the Old West on which it was based. Its diverse mix of classic restaurants, real Sicilian pizza bistros, and old-world Mexican cantinas creates one of the most intriguing and varied eating experiences anywhere.
Cowboy saloons, biker bars, and cozy cafes serving Southwestern delicacies, delectable steaks, ranch-style BBQ, and nostalgic comfort cuisine have contributed to Cave Creek’s image as a dynamic Western town, drawing thousands of local and out-of-town tourists each year.
Having so many options might be confusing. If you’re not sure where to begin, here are eight restaurant recommendations. Good luck!
Are you going to other places in Arizona? See our other guides:
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- 10 Must-Try Mexican Restaurants In Phoenix
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- 1 Cave Creek’s Top 8 Restaurants
- 2 Wrap-Up of Cave Creek Restaurant
Cave Creek’s Top 8 Restaurants
488-17526248 E. Cave Creek Rd.
When you ask locals where they take out-of-town tourists, El Encanto is one of the places they commonly recommend since it serves real Mexican cuisine in a beautiful, relaxed setting.
El Encanto is a traditional hacienda with stucco archways and walls, as well as colorful Mexican tile. You may dine on a covered terrace that surrounds a beautiful garden and a natural pond with a waterfall while watching ducks and turtles glide past. You could even spot an owl or a blue heron if you’re fortunate.
Your waiter will meet you with a basket of fresh chips and a taster of mild, spicy, and verde salsas after you’ve been seated. Fresh ingredients are used to make homemade delicacies such as Seafood and Spinach Enchiladas, Fajitas, and Shrimp with Tequila Lime Salsa. Every day, the team prepares fresh guacamole and serves it with warm corn tortilla chips from the oven.
Domestic and Mexican beers by the bottle or on tap are available, as are wines from California, Spain, Mexico, and South America. The house speciality is the margarita, which is produced with a quality combination of liquors such as Sauza Gold Tequila. These may be served frozen or on the rocks, and you can customize them with peach, raspberry, melon, mango, strawberry, or Prickly Pear flavors.
Big Earl’s Greasy Eats
E. Cave Creek Rd. (480) 575-78896135 E. Cave Creek Rd.
Big Earl’s Greasy Meals is a throwback restaurant at an old gas station. It claims to be the last location to obtain an honest hamburger and is a Cave Creek icon because it keeps that promise and more.
All-natural, hormone-free beef and chicken are used to make the hamburgers and sandwiches, which are served on fresh-baked buns with hand-chopped lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and genuine mayo. All-beef hot dogs are served with chopped onions, jalapenos, and cheese. Traditional sides including standard and sweet potato fries and onion rings are available, as well as tater tots, mac n cheese bites, and fried zucchini.
Big Earls features a fully stocked bar. Therefore you may order a domestic, foreign, or local beer, glass of wine, or any beverage. A White Russian, an espresso milkshake with vodka and Kahlua, or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, a vanilla milkshake combined with Cinnamon Whiskey and RumChata, are two more adult milkshakes to try. With my Mushroom Swiss Burger, I had the Almond Joy, a chocolate milkshake with Coconut Vodka and Hazelnut Liquor, and it was every bit as amazing as it sounds.
There is considerable skepticism about Earl’s existence since, according to locals, Earl sightings are more infrequent than Elvis sightings. When we questioned our server if he truly existed, she grinned suspiciously and answered, No one knows for sure.
Brugos Pizza Company and Bistro
E. Cave Creek Rd. (480) 575-30447100 E. Cave Creek Rd.
Brugos Pizza Co. & Cafe is a slice of Sicily right in the middle of Cave Creek. Troy McDonald and Christina (Cefalu) McDonald, co-owners, specialize in making classic and not-so-traditional Italian dishes from family recipes passed down through generations.
Christina’s father arrived in the United States via boat from Sicily. Her mother was the first American to marry into his all-Sicilian family, and Christina learnt to cook from her aunt, who didn’t speak English. The recipes had never been written down until that moment.
At the restaurant or on the terrace, you may eat handmade lasagna, spaghetti, or fresh salads while sipping a domestic or foreign beer, glass of wine, or Italian Margarita and listening to the mellow sounds of Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, and Rosemary Clooney.
You’re in for a treat if you order a pizza. Every day, Brugos’ award-winning pizza dough is produced fresh utilizing a secret Roman-style recipe. Seasonal toppings, which include cured meats and exotic cheeses as well as local vegetables, are acquired locally wherever feasible. All sauces are house favorites.
The Spaghetti with Fresh Pesto, which was topped with imported Italian cheese, fresh basil and tomatoes, handmade roasted garlic, and olive oil, was delicious. I sneaked a bite of my husband’s spaghetti and meatballs and agree that the sauce is as delicious as they advertise. We didn’t eat dessert, but the Italian Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is said to be delicious.
Jonnys from the area
E. Cave Creek Rd. (480) 488-74736033 E. Cave Creek Rd.
The term Local Jonnys is derived from one of its proprietors as well as the provenance of its components. All components are sourced locally, from Arizona if they are not accessible locally, and from the Southwest if they are not available in Arizona, according to co-owners Jon Oughterson and Lauren Van Winkle.
Breakfast, lunch, and supper are offered in the caf or tavern as well as on the terrace. The well-stocked bar serves bottled and canned domestic and international beers, as well as artisan brews on tap. You may also order wine by the glass, bottle, or custom drink.
Burgers and salads, as well as certain Mexican and pasta dishes, are available for lunch and supper. Local Jonnys, on the other hand, truly shines for breakfast. My spouse had the Standard Breakfast. Two scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon and sausage, seasoned potatoes, and bread. The cheese-flavored eggs were delicious, and the homemade salsa served on the side was the ideal accompaniment.
Jonnys Famous Pancakes are prepared from scratch, laced with blueberries and house granola, and topped with whipped cream. They were light and fluffy, just as the name suggested.
Jonnys has a devoted following of both year-round and seasonal inhabitants. As the Coronavirus outbreak endangered their livelihood, they stepped forward to keep things running smoothly. One winter guest left $1,000 in the tip jar to ensure that his favorite restaurant would still be open the next year when he returned.
Saloon Buffalo Chip
488-91186823 E. Cave Creek Rd.
The Buffalo Chip is an Old West bar with a cuisine that complements the relaxed environment. You may get Texas-style barbecue entrees including Beef Brisket and Smoked Chicken, as well as sides like Mothers Potato Salad, Cowboy Beans, and Quickdraw Cole Slaw. Order the fruit cobbler if you have space. Every night is a different kind. As a result, you may get apple, peach, cherry, or sweet potato pineapple. We went there on an apple night, and we both had a great time.
Come for the cuisine, but stay for the entertainment. Tuesday through Sunday, live musicians play. Show off your Two-Step or West Coast Swing on the dance floor, or come on Thursday night for free instruction. On Mondays, there are also free line dancing instruction.
On Wednesday and Friday evenings, the Buffalo Chip sponsors amateur bull riding events in a tiny rodeo arena at the rear of the restaurant. Come early for supper and seat yourself in the stands, or get VIP seats and dine while watching the entertainment.
Whether you support the Wisconsin Badgers or Green Bay Packers, the Buffalo Chip is the place to be on Saturdays and Sundays throughout football season.
Cave Creek Corral by Harrolds
488-19066895 E. Cave Creek Rd.
The First Wild West Saloon, according to Harrolds Cave Creek Corral. It was founded in 1935 and is renowned for serving wonderful cuisine, playing fantastic music, and generally having a good time.
Harrolds makes it difficult to go hungry. Steaks, burgers, fish, pasta, and barbecue with Harrolds unique sauce are on the menu. My Baby Back Ribs were so tender that they literally fell off the bone, and the two sides, coleslaw and roasted street corn, were also delicious.
Wednesday through Sunday, Harrolds presents live music by local bands, as well as Country Western dance instruction on Fridays. And if you’re a Steelers fan, this is the place to go on Sundays during football season. Harrolds is located next to Heinz Field and is one of the biggest Pittsburgh Steelers pubs in the nation, replete with Terrible Towels and Iron City Beer.
E. Cave Creek Rd. (480) 687-90776268 E. Cave Creek Rd.
Stumblinas Cantina is situated in the middle of Cave Creek, across the street from Frontier Town. You may dine indoors or sit outdoors on the big terrace and watch the action on the town’s main street.
Half the pleasure is picking what to eat after reading the menu. Johnny Ringo Knows Latin Pork Tacos with lettuce, Pico de Gallo, cilantro, Mexican cheese, and sour cream, and Festus Haggin Chicken Sandwich with country fried chicken breast on a bread topped with swiss cheese and candied jalapenos are two of the menu items.
The pub serves bottled, draft, and craft beers, domestic and foreign wines, and specialty cocktails including the Stum-Belini, a twist on the classic Bellini.
If you have space for dessert, Big Nose is a good choice. Josephine Earp Ordered Room Service, a piece of rich chocolate and peanut butter mousse pie topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce, or Kate is a Hot Cookie, a baked chocolate chip cookie topped with vanilla ice cream.
Toad is a horny toad.
488-95426738 E. Cave Creek Rd.
The Horny Toad is a family restaurant that serves comfort cuisine in a relaxing, rustic setting in its dining room and on its outside terrace with views of the mountains and desert.
Everything at the Toad is grilled over a mesquite charcoal barbecue. It has garnered honors for its made-from-scratch fried chicken, Strawberry Shortcake, and Apple and Peach Cobblers served with Cinnamon Swirl Ice Cream, as well as its exceptional barbecue chicken and pig ribs cooked with its house sauce.
Plan to do some shopping before or after you dine since the Horny Toad is the only year-round Christmas store in the region. Wreaths, garlands, Christmas stockings, and menorahs may be found, as well as themed Christmas trees with decorations for a range of interests.
Cactus, cowboy hats, coyotes, and owls adorn a Southwest tree. A patriotic tree celebrates military heroes as well as first responders including cops, firemen, and paramedics. The sports tree features decorations for both professional and college teams.
Wrap-Up of Cave Creek Restaurant
Cave Creek is a charming, welcoming community with a variety of eateries serving traditional and Southwestern cuisine at moderate pricing.
It’s a popular spot to visit and take out-of-state guests who want to experience the Old West since it’s just thirty minutes from Phoenix.
Whether you choose fancy dining or a more informal ambiance, you’ll find the ideal location to unwind and enjoy a delicious meal. Hence, while planning your trip to Cave Creek, keep these eight eateries in mind.