Stepping back in time is what happens when you enter The Stockyards Restaurant. This Phoenix landmark was Arizona’s original steakhouse, aptly named The Stockyards Restaurant and 1889 Saloon.
Even though restored in 2005, it has retained a feel of the Old West. At the same time, it is regaining a reputation as one of Phoenix’s favorite steakhouses. It was added to the City of Phoenix Historical Register for its role in relevant architectural style, as well as for the role it played in the Arizona cattle industry.
The Tovrea Stockyards opened in 1919 as the world’s largest pen feeding operation. Cattle baron Edward A. Tovrea owned 175 acres and the yard held 300,000 head of cattle, passing through as they traveled throughout the United States. The restaurant was located in the center of the stockyards and bankers, cattlemen, and politicians hung out there. Prize beef was featured on the menu.
Destroyed by fire in May 1953, it reopened in 1954, serving the highest quality beef available. Within two years, it doubled in size and served over 1,000 meals a day. Now, 50 years later, The Stockyards Restaurant and 1889 Saloon is still open and worth visiting.
Helen Tovrea was behind the planning and decorations. She commissioned Russ Kapp of The Kapp Cabinet Company to hand carve the cherry stained mahogany bar and bar stools. They were installed for the grand reopening in 1954 and still remain. Walking into the saloon, you feel as if you are in another era.
Helen wanted the walls distinctive and indeed they are. She commissioned Kate Patton, a Los Angeles artist, to paint the murals. These have been restored and you can see firsthand “The Face on the Barroom Floor,” “My Mother was a Lady,” “The Bird in the Cage,” “Sweet Adeline,” and can-can dancer murals. Set off by Arizona terrazzo flooring, the room is adorned with a custom-made crystal chandelier.
Norm and I arrived around 5:15 before the crowds. Our timing allowed one of the owners/manager, Gary Lasko, to give us a tour. The photographs throughout and original western art are exceptional. In many ways, we felt as if we were in a Western museum.
The booths tell another story. Celebrities of all types have shared these booths, from local well-known families to actor John Wayne. The owners have also started recognizing and thanking individuals and families, based on their impact on the history and future of Arizona. They are calling it, Celebrate Arizona’s Influencers.
For Arizona’s 100th year celebration in 2012, a Centennial Menu will feature different recipes from the past. The first official centennial celebration has already honored the Tovrea family. A plaque above the booth highlights their story and allows the public to discover the family’s impact on Arizona’s history and future.
On to food, which I usually feature at the top of an article. I found the menu similar to most steakhouses with some additional benefits. It includes less expensive alternatives, including sandwiches. There are certainly a number of current trendy choices mixed with old standards. The three of us who dined together shared a lot, so we enjoyed quite a few tastes and flavors.
The Stockyards is a great steakhouse with a wonderful history.
Stockyards Buffalo Meatloaf
Preheat oven to 350.
1/4 cup white onion (small dice)
1/4 cup celery (small dice)
1/4 cup carrot (small dice)
1 Tbls butter
1 lb ground buffalo
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1 large egg (beaten)
3/4 cup Panko (bread crumbs very fine can be substituted)
1 large clove fresh garlic (minced)
1 Tbls Dijon mustard
1 Tbls Worcestershire sauce
1 dash Tabasco
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper (or to taste)
3 strips bacon (raw)
Set aside ¼ cup of BBQ sauce. Sauté onion, celery, and carrot in butter over medium heat until tender. Cool slightly. Add these vegetables to all of the other ingredients except the bacon. Mix well in a mixer. Form into a loaf and put into a loaf pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Make sure to pat it down, it must be firm. Spread the BBQ sauce on top of the loaf and sprinkle with black pepper. Lay the bacon strips lengthwise on top of the meatloaf. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for approx. 1 hour. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before removing from the pan and serving.
At The Stockyards, they cool completely, and then slice the meatloaf and reheat the slices on the charbroiler to add another flavor profile.
I highly recommend checking out The Stockyards. In addition to good food and great atmosphere, you will learn a little about Phoenix history.
The sepia photos are those provided by the Stockyards. The color photo are those I took.
5009 E. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85034