When my family was invited to try Rustler's Rooste in Phoenix, Arizona, we thought we knew what to expect. I envisioned steaks, western decor and maybe some peanut shells on the floor. Rustler's Rooste turned out to be one of my kids' favorite restaurant experiences of all time.
For starters, Rustler's Rooste can seat 1,000 people inside, and has special events space for another 1,000 on the patio. Despite that kind of capacity, the restaurant was packed on the Wednesday evening we were there. I recommend making reservations at (602) 431-6474 to minimize your wait for a table. Ask for a view!
Next, I am absolutely certain that this is the first time my children (ages 10 and 8) have ever enjoyed a two-hour restaurant meal. Usually one hour is about all our family can handle, but my children walked out of Rustler's Rooste declaring it one of the highlights of our fun-filled Phoenix vacation.
Rustler's Rooste has specialized in steak, ribs, chicken and seafood since 1971. A kids' menu is available for children age 10 and under, and it includes the usual favorites, including a 5 oz steak that my daughter enjoyed. I ordered the filet and my husband got the rib-eye, and we were both happy with our choices. All entrees are served with biscuits and fry bread, a family-style salad, cowboy beans, corn on the cob, and a seasonal vegetable.
Rustler's Rooste is known for its rattlesnake appetizer. To ensure year-round availability, they own a rattlesnake farm! My husband wanted to order it, but he was the only one, and I'm a little sorry now that we didn't try it. In my defense, the menu and the manager admit that many people don't think rattlesnake tastes very good. But, how often do you get an opportunity to find out for yourself?
We shared one piece of the sinfully rich 9-layer chocolate cake for dessert, and it was so large that my family could only eat half of it. My kids were holding back because they were saving space for the complimentary cotton candy that the servers deliver at the end of every meal.
Rustler's Rooste is perched atop a hill overlooking the city of Phoenix. It's a lovely view – especially as the sun goes down – and our family was one of many taking photos on the patio. Most tables have a view, but if you want to be seated right by a window, be sure to make a reservation and request it.
Rustler's Rooste is a festive place. For starters, you'll be greeted by a live bull named “Horney” at the front door, photo ops throughout the restaurant and a live Western band every night. I had the opportunity to visit with the manager and was interested to learn that at one member of the band is a second-generation performer at Rustler's Rooste. I also confirmed that the bull is not destined for the dining room.
How often does a restaurant hostess invite you to take the slide to the lower level? That's what they do at Rustler's Rooste, and my kids went back to take extra turns at least twice during our meal.
A balloon artist and magician stroll from table to table entertaining guests. My children were delighted with their balloon creations and we were all wowed by the magician. I was impressed by his sleight of hand skills at close range. The tableside entertainers do accept tips. Be sure to bring some cash to show your appreciation.
Whether you have a group of 9 or 900+, Rustler's Rooste can accommodate you. If you're celebrating as a large family or multi-family group, just call ahead for reservations to ensure that Rustler's Rooste will be ready to serve you.
Rustler's Rooste welcomes tours, corporate groups, weddings and family reunions. They have two large group spaces outdoors where guests can be served buffet-style. Contact the group coordinator for details.
Disclosure: Our meal at Rustler's Rooste was complimentary, so that we could share our experience with other families. I was not otherwise compensated and all opinions are my own.
Have you been here?
Please share your tips and experience in the comments! If you haven't been here, tell us… Would you order the rattlesnake?