Reluctantly, we left The Town Dump in Cave Creek, AZ. Directly across the street was the Bufffalo Chip Saloon. It was time for lunch, and this was a strong possibility. But, we passed.
We narrowed our choices from three to two--the Horny Toad and Big Earl’s Greasy Eats. Since I knew more about the Toad than Big Earl, the Horny Toad it would be.
“The Horny Toad restaurant is the oldest, original restaurant in Cave Creek and has been the location for many 'Old West' movies and photo shoots. In 1976, the Horny Toad restaurant was purchased by the Price family, who serve large food portions at affordable prices.
The Horny Toad restaurant has earned numerous awards for made-from-scratch famous Fried Chicken and homemade secret BBQ sauce. Other award winning specialties include the BBQ Chicken, Pork and Beef Ribs and mesquite grilled steaks. And their Strawberry Shortcake was awarded Best Dessert by New Times Magazine.”
The building housing the restaurant started as a small house and horse tack room. Keeping with the Cave Creek area’s western roots, the interior of the restaurant is decorated with old west memorabilia. Diners can either eat indoors in a warm – both from the fireplace and the ambiance – dining room or
outdoors on a covered patio. Since the day was grey and cold, the warmth of the fireplace was inviting.
The lunch menu has the requisite list of salads, sandwiches, and hamburgers along with some barbeque items (pork, beef ribs and chicken), their famous fried chicken, a small steak, and fish and chips. Since neither of us had partaken in the all-American hamburger in many a meal, we both made that our choice.
Mine was the Horny Toad burger – a mesquite grilled one-third-pound burger smothered with cheddar cheese and bacon, topped with BBQ sauce. From the list of available sides, I chose the potato salad.
Chuck ordered the Tiajuana (sic) Torpedo – two thirds of a pound of hamburger, again mesquite grilled, stuffed with green chilies and cheese. And to go with this he ordered a side of fries.
Of the two burgers, Chuck’s was definitely better. Mine had great beefy flavor and the unmistakable taste of mesquite grilled meat. It was dense and dry. I strongly suspect that the patties had been formed in a press rather than hand formed. Normally, the latter (if done right) results in a far juicier and appetizing sandwich. The side of potato salad was quite good with skin-on potatoes and peppers tossed with a light and slightly sweet dressing.
Chuck’s Tiajuana Torpedo began as two separate raw patties which then sandwiched chopped green chilis and cheese. Our waitress warned him to cut the sandwich in half to allow the cheese and peppers to geyser onto the plate rather than onto his face. A wise piece of advice. The liquid cheese and juicy peppers added moisture to the sandwich. And his fries gave every appearance of being hand cut and came to the table crisp. Even better, they remained crisp for the duration of the lunch.
I am not sure that the Horny Toad lived up to the many highly-positive reviews that I had read on the web. Maybe if we had ordered the award-winning fried chicken and strawberry shortcake, our impression would be better. I can’t give my lunch anything higher than a 3.0 Addie rating and Chuck rates his as a 3.5. We’ve certainly had better (although we have also had worse).