Cadillac Ranch – Tempe, AZ, USA

I had been working in Tempe for a couple of weeks with some guys from The Americas –Peru, Chile, Mexico, Canada and most places in-between.  It was our last night together and it fell on me to take everyone out for a farewell meal.  My colleagues had been in the US for almost three weeks longer than me and were fed up of eating huge meals all the time.  We decided to go the Tempe Marketplace and find some easy food that could be shared and then get back to the hotel to pack our bags.

We initially tried The Thirsty Lion, which we had visited previously, however there was a long wait for a table here as it was a Friday night.  We carried on walking and came across the Cadillac Ranch.

It looked a little cheesy with the huge neon sign pointing to the stairway that led you to the entrance but I was too tired to find an alternative.  The girl at the front desk gave us their last table – which luckily for us was a table for 8.

This was a Wild West themed bar and it worked pretty well with lots of wood, neon beer signs and a stage in the middle.  Once seated, I noticed three things; firstly this was a very busy bar.  Secondly, almost all of the tables here were high up so you sit on a (pretty wobbly) stool.  Finally, I noticed the large group of young men who were playing with the bucking bronco.  The chap currently partaking in this activity was pretty good – and lasted all of three minutes before being thrown to the (padded) floor.  Some of my foreign colleagues were pretty bemused by the site of a large American man riding a bronco.

Our server introduced herself and took our order for some beers ($4.50 for imports) and cocktails (around $6).  I was given the task of ordering for the group.  I opted for Chips and Cheese dips ($6.79), Nachos ($7.99), Chicken Sliders ($8.29), Arizona Mac n Cheese ($12.99), Quesadillas ($9.99) and some spicy chicken wings ($9.79), along with a couple of requests from the group; onion rings ($3.49) and a half rack of ribs ($13.99).

Our food was delivered as and when it was ready which worked really well for us.  The chips and cheese dip came first and while it wasn’t anything special, it wasn’t bad and was quickly devoured.  Next out were the nachos and wings – I ordered both chicken and spicy pork nachos.  These were not as I expected – there were 8 giant tortilla chips with some cheese, jalapeño, olives and the relevant meat on top.  These were quite different from the regular nachos you get on the US with the pretend runny cheese on.  These were much more delicate and were really enjoyable.  The Spanish speakers of the group deemed the wings Muy Picante, however I thought they were only mildly spicy.

Quesadillas and ribs were next out, with the mac n cheese a few minutes behind.  The Quesadillas were nothing remarkable although they still got eaten.  The ribs were served with a side salad and some fries – I didn’t try the ribs (but everyone else did and they didn’t last long) but I did try the fries that were served with them and they were delicious; crispy and slightly spicy – the best fries in Tempe by a long way!  The mac n cheese wasn’t all that cheesy but did have some spicy peppers in which added a nice kick.  Last out were the chicken sliders – it may have been that we had already eaten enough by this point, but these tasted very processed.

Throughout our feast we had another round of drinks which, given how busy it was, were served pretty quickly.

The total bill came to $172 including a tip, which I thought was pretty reasonable for dinner and drinks for 8.  We left around 9:15; the band was just setting up and some of the tables were being moved away from the dance floor.  Had we not all been up very early for flights home the next day, I suspect we would have stayed a lot longer here – and I don’t doubt we would have had a great time – with or without the bronco.

Cadillac Ranch, Tempe Marketplace, 2000 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, AZ 85281.

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