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Shortlisted: Eight Restaurants In Cave Creek That Locals Love!

Cave Creek is an Old West style town just northeast of Phoenix, Arizona. It’s a quirky, laid-back place where there is plenty to do from mountain biking to horseback riding.

Whether you’re exploring one of Cave Creek’s hiking trails, or simply pulling up a chair at one of the city’s numerous watering holes, there is no dearth of things to do.

The food here is great as well – from American and Mexican comfort foods to classic French. However, it’s the lively, often raucous atmosphere of certain restaurants in Cave Creek that really draws in the crowds.

As we know this town well, here’s our rundown of what we believe are the eight best restaurants in Cave Creek, Arizona.

You’ll find Cave Creek restaurants with great food, spectacular views, outdoor patios, and plenty of entertainment on offer. Enjoy!

Chef cooking
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The Eight Best Restaurants In Cave Creek For Food, Fun & Views!

1. Tonto Bar and Grill

Located next to the golf course in the picturesque setting of the Rancho Mañana resort, Tonto Bar and Grill has to be one of the most beautiful restaurants in Cave Creek, Arizona.

The interior will make you feel like you’re in an old school lodge. A faux-tree reaches up to the rafters, from which warm lights are hung, while the upholstered furniture bears traditional Native Indian patterns. Spurs and cartwheels decorate the walls, and there’s even a fireplace!

And that’s only the inside! Outside there’s a massive shaded seating area with unparalleled views of the golf course and resort. You can watch people tee off on the green while you sip a specialty cocktail. Sounds good right?

The menu at Tonto is curated keeping in mind Arizona’s rich heritage, blending both South Western and Native American ingredients. That being said, it’s the burgers that steal the show here. An 8 oz grass or corn-fed, wood grilled patty, nestled between two buns with all the fixings. These burgers have had locals raving about them for years! The Three Sisters Salsas and Guacamole is another highlight, featuring three different salsas and three chips for dipping.

The rest of the menu has fish, meat and vegetarian entrees along with salads and a dessert section. There are gluten free and vegan options too – just talk to your server if you have any dietary requirements. They’re very professional and knowledgable.

The bartenders at Tonto must be practicing magic too, because their concoctions are out of this world! Their version of ‘The Old Fashioned’ is perfect, but you have to check out their Agave spirits too.

This place is popular so it can get busy, especially over the weekend and during lunch and dinner hours, so it’s best to call ahead and make reservations. Tonto Bar and Grill is open 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on all days.

Address: 5736 E Rancho Manana Blvd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331

Burgers on board display
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2. El Encanto Uno

Opened by Bill Nelson in 1989, El Encanto brings a little bit of Mexico to Cave Creek.

Built around a central water feature, this restaurant has a great old world Mexican feel. The main draw here is the outside seating area which surrounds a duck pond with turtles and Koi. There’s plenty of natural beauty for you to take in while you dine, and we’re sure you’ll have your phone out taking photos as soon as you arrive.

The seating is a mix between wrought iron and wood, and the Cantina outside is made with imported Mexican tiles. There’s a warm inside seating area too, all of which just adds to the good vibes here and helps create a truly enchanting dining experience.

They pride themselves on authentic Mexican cuisine at El Encanto. And the innovative menu features specialties from Chef Hernandez’s hometown of Mazatlan.

Why not start your meal off with a complimentary basket of house made chips and the trio of salsas. But it’s the Pollo Fundido – a spiced chicken breast with onions and peppers wrapped in a crispy flour tortilla and covered in jalapeno cream cheese sauce – which is the stand out dish for us. There’s also a selection of fresh seafood entrees for you to enjoy.

The menu also features the usual tacos, fajitas and quesadillas. There are daily specials too and all the food is made fresh, from scratch.

The service is great and the servers are polite and accommodating. Expect a bit of a wait time as the place can get busy, but don’t worry! You can sip on a margarita by the bar while you take in the beautiful surroundings.

This restaurant is open 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. all days. El Encanto Uno is the original restaurant in Cave Creek, but they also have outlets in Desert Hills and Fountain Hills too.

Address: 6248 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331

3. Harold’s Cave Creek Corral

Harold’s is Cave Creek’s original “Wild West Saloon and Restaurant” and was opened as the Corral Bar by Johnny Walker in 1935. It was then bought and renamed by Harold Gavagan in 1950.

Harold’s is a local landmark in Cave Creek and features plenty of indoor seating along with a covered patio, two bars, a large stage and a dancefloor. It’s one of the most iconic bars and restaurants in Cave Creek and an absolute must visit for anyone passing through the town.

This place is reminiscent of the Old West. Checkered table cloths add a bit of class to the rustic ambience, and there’s plenty of traditional wood and stone features. Photographs of celebrities who have visited in the past cover one of the walls, while cowboy boots hang from another. If this place is crowded when you arrive, and it can be, no worries! You can pull up a stool at the bar and nurse a beer while you watch a game on their flat screen TVs.

As for the food, Harold’s serves some great steaks and chops which are aged prime cuts, hand carved daily. The 14 oz ribeye is heartily recommended, especially when its paired with the sautéed mushrooms and scallions. The Smokehouse is another you can’t miss, with all items being smoked in-house over Mesquite wood.

The menu is vast and expansive with plenty of options from sandwiches to pasta. They’re even open for breakfast – we heard their ranch fries are especially good.

There’s always something happening at Harold’s and it seems to be the place where festivities begin and end in town. Apart from annual events and concerts, there’s live music almost every day and dance lessons on Friday and Saturday too!

On top of that there’s happy hour from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. They even have daily specials as well!

Harold’s is open from 8:00 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday. So, what are you waiting for? Head on over to Harold’s for a rootin’ tootin’ good time!

Address: 6895 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331

beef steak display
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4. Big Earl’s Greasy Eats

Simply put, Big Earl’s Greasy Eats is a local landmark in Cave Creek. Started as a gas station in Phoenix in 1935, it moved to Cave Creek in 1952.

Big Earl’s still maintains the 30’s art deco style of the gas station and while seating inside is minimal, fret not as there’s a huge covered dining space outside. Decked out in bright red colors, the restaurant has a great diner vibe to it. They’ve even maintained the gas pumps from when it was a station!

Coming to the food, Big Earl’s has been consistently voted as serving some of the best burgers in the area (National Geographic even says the country!). You have to try the Cave Creek BBQ burger which features a Black Angus Beef Patty smothered in barbecue sauce, with bacon and onion rings inside a fresh grilled bun. You can sub in a vegetarian patty for any of the burgers. The portions are substantial, but regulars love the taste so much, they’re often tempted to order another!

Apart from burgers, there are sandwiches, salads and a full bar. And try one of their milkshakes – you won’t regret it. The restaurant also does breakfast till 11:00 a.m. where you can build your own burrito. What a way to start your day!

Expect long lines during lunch or dinner as this place is popular, so get there early for your burger fix!

For a retro dining atmosphere and some of the best food in Cave Creek – Big Earl’s is a great place to dine. They even have a drive-in theater where they offer car-side service from the full dinner menu. Now that takes us back!

Hours of operation are 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on other days. They are open 364 days a year.

Address: 6135 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331

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5. Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steak House

What started as a simple feed and bait shop in 1951 has now become a 6000 square feet dance hall and saloon, famous for not just being one of the best restaurants in Cave Creek, but one of the best night outs too!

Buffalo Chip Saloon is massive and mostly open air. There’s a lot of activity going on in this 5-acre property which means there’s many things to see and do. You can pull up a stool by the bar, watch the bull riding shows, or join in with one of the free dancing lessons. It is difficult to encapsulate the décor in a single sentence as the seating is wide and varied, but you do get a feel of a rustic Old West saloon though!

Once voted ‘Arizon’s Best Western Saloon and Restaurant’, you can expect barbecue staples like brisket and pulled pork here. Meats can be ordered by the half or full pound or even in a sandwich. There’s a lot of sides to choose from, so you will be spoilt for choice! But the deep fried okra and fried pickles are stand outs on the appetizer menu.

Really, though, The Chip is most famous for its bull riding which happens every Wednesday and Friday. There’s also live country music and dancing nights too.

If that wasn’t enough to draw your attention, then Friday is all you can eat fish fry night!

Simply put, there’s always something happening at The Chip. It’s open from Sunday through Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. to 12 midnight, and Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.

Address: 6823 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331

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6. The Grotto Café

The Grotto Café is a family-owned business that’s been serving classic American fare since 2011, and is set in spectacular surroundings.

The interiors are quaint and diner style with chalkboard menus and multiple posters and picture frames dotting the walls. But there’s also wall to ceiling windows for plenty of natural light so it feels airy. However the real draw here is their massive outdoor patio and garden. You won’t want to miss a chance to dine in these serene surroundings!

The Grotto prides itself on serving award-winning local organic coffee along with fresh bagels and pastries. Visitors also rave about their sandwiches – and there’s quite a few of them to choose from! From the humble chicken salad to the mighty Cuban, you won’t be short of options here. The rest of the menu features soups, salads and tacos.

Breakfast here is served till 11:00 a.m. and there’s a lot of healthy options. There’s also a full bar, although the highlight for us is the coffee from the Roastery of Cave Creek.

The Grotto is open from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and from 6:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekends.

There’s also usually live music every Saturday and Sunday afternoon, so don’t miss out! Grab yourself a sandwich and a cup of Joe and treat yourself to some lovely tunes in a beautiful garden environment. When it comes to breakfast and lunch, The Grotto is easily one of the best restaurants in Cave Creek.

Address: 6501 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331

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7. Local Jonny’s Tavern and Cafe

Local Jonny’s is, as the name suggests, local and family owned. It’s a café and pub that features the best of healthy food and comfort food!

Breakfast is served here till 11:00 a.m. with café favorites going on till 2:00 p.m. Don’t miss out on Jonny’s famous pancakes, which have house granola and blueberries.

The stars of the menu though, have to be the tacos, which feature vegetarian options too! The jackfruit tacos and veggie bean wraps are big hits! The rest of the menu features burgers, salads and sandwiches.

There’s a full bar available at Jonny’s so make sure you try one of their specialty cocktails. We’ve heard good things about the grapefruit mimosa. The place even has a good selection of craft beers.

The interiors are warm and accommodating with fairy lights, murals and burlap sacks hanging from the ceiling – it’s very photogenic. The seating is varied and comfortable, but don’t miss out on their newly renovated outside seating area!

Open Mics happen every Wednesday with trivia night following on Thursdays. There’s also plenty of live music over the weekend, so there is a lot going on!

Service here is warm and friendly and hours of operation are from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday, and from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

So, what are you waiting for? Head on over to Local Jonny’s for some fun events and great food!

Address: 6033 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331

Many types of tacos on the table.
Photo for illustrative purposes only: Ragiboglu

8. Bryan’s Black Mountain Barbecue

Bryan’s Black Mountain Barbecue is a no-frills barbecue joint that specializes in wood smoked meats.

The interior of the restaurant features a simple Mid-Western aesthetic. A mix of neon and wooden signs along with posters and picture frames adorn the walls, while brick wallpaper and warm summer hues compliment the linoleum table tops and metal seating. There’s plenty of covered outdoor seating as well, if you want to brave the Arizona heat!

Owner-chef Bryan Dooley dishes out some of the best brisket and ribs in the valley. The tender brisket here steals the show and is available by the plate or by the pound. But the baked potato and cornbread also tend to have visitors clamoring for more! Another unique menu option is the Vegetarian Pulled Squash which is well worth ordering.

And if you’re feeling adventurous, Bryan’s also does a Frog Leg barbecue every Friday! There’s also a limited beer and wine selection to pair with your meal.

This Cave Creek restaurant operates as a self-serve, so you can place your order at the counter and pick it up when it’s ready. If you drop by in the evening, there hours of operation are a little limited – from Thursday to Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. – so make sure you plan your visit accordingly!

Address: 6130 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331

Full rack of BBQ grilled pork spare ribs on a marble board
Photo for illustrative purposes only: Mironov

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