Pinnacle Peak Patio – Scottsdale, Arizona (CLOSED)

To a lexicologist like me, the word pinnacle has connotations of “the highest point of development or achievement.” In other words, it’s synonymous with ultimate, apogee, culmination, peak, summit, zenith, climax or apex…and those are just the synonyms (a word along with Thesaurus for which there are no synonyms) off the top of my head.

At 3100 feet in elevation, Pinnacle Peak itself is one of the more prominent landmarks in North Scottsdale. Whether seen under a star filled night time canopy or beneath a cerulean summer sky, its weathered boulders, craggy spires and desert vegetation make it one of the more spectacular vistas in the area. Spectacular is certainly not a word you would use to describe the Pinnacle Peak Patio, a gawdy Western facade which has grown into the world’s largest western steakhouse with seating for 1800 people inside and outside for 2000.

Launched in 1957, it has achieved worldwide notoriety as a fun family dining destination–one with a strict “no necktie” policy as enforced by the cutting and stapling to the rafters of over one million cravats over the past 46 years. Ever the cynic, I would have dismissed it entirely as a tourist trap had the world’s preeminent grill chef Bobby Flay not painted it in such a favorable light on one of his Food Network specials.

Additional confirmation from a New York Times critic hailing Pinnacle Peak Patio as serving the “best cowboy steak” only steeled our determination to dine there. By the time we found it (more than an hour after we set off), we were famished and ready to partake of an Adkins dieter’s dream–the 32 ounce Porterhouse called “the Cowboy” on the menu.

Order your mesquite grilled steak “well done” and you’ll be served a charred cowboy boot. Dinner entrees also include a tossed green salad with creamy Italian or ranch dressing, cowboy beans and thick-cut whole wheat bread with butter. It became painfully obvious with each bite we took of our meals that this sprawling restaurant’s name had little to do with the quality of the victuals. The steak was tough and fatty, eliciting a classic epigram from my companion Bill Resnik as to the whip marks on the steak being from where the jockey hit it.

Development of the Pinnacle Peak area has been done with obvious respect for the natural beauty of the area. Spectacular multi-million dollar residences are relatively obfuscated so as to preserve the desert ecology. Amidst God’s natural creations, there, too, is a place for grandiose Western steakhouses such as the Pinnacle Peak Patio. It’s just not a place to which I’ll return.

Pinnacle Peak Patio
10426 East Jomax Road
Scottsdale, Arizona
LATEST VISIT: 27 April 2004
BEST BET: Ambience

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