Saddle up at the Superstition Saloon in Tortilla Flat
TORTILLA FLAT – For more than a hundred years, thirsty travelers have flocked to Tortilla Flat. Once a popular stagecoach stop along the Apache Trail, the saloon anchoring this tiny and resilient community still serves up libations to tourists seeking a slice of Old Arizona.
Located two miles east of the Canyon Lake Recreation Area along State Route 88 – in the thick of the Superstition Mountains – the town of six is presumed to be the smallest “community” in Arizona, complete with a post office and voter’s precinct.
Residents may be scarce, but visitors are not. This region of the Superstitions is known as a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and treasure hunters. Tortilla Flat remains a pit stop for these urban explorers, just as it did so many decades ago.
Bang for the Buck at Superstition Saloon
The Superstition Saloon is Tortilla Flat’s biggest draw. On the weekends, don’t be surprised to find a long line of camera-toting Phoenicians and other tourists waiting to catch a glimpse of the unique interior.
This saloon has all the characteristics of your favorite Old West watering hole – a long wooden bar, endless beer and cowboy memorabilia plastered across the walls. However, this oddity stands out for its floor-to-ceiling wallpaper of dollar bills, each note delicately placed and branded by patrons throughout the years.
And you don’t merely sit at this bar – you saddle up – on stools crafted from actual saddles. It’s not the most comfortable of accommodations, but worth the leg cramp for this one-time experience.
The menu is stocked with typical pub grub like burgers, tacos and hot dogs. The saloon serves up beer and wine, including a couple specialty brews: Mule Oil Beer and R-R-Rattlesnake Beer.
History of Tortilla Flat
In the late 1800’s, the Tortilla Flat area was situated along the Yavapai Trail, which connected Tonto Basin with the Salt River Valley. It was used by prospectors, ranchers, Indians and other settlers exploring the Southwest.
Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, the Yavapai Trail was turned into a freight road for the construction of Roosevelt Dam. The roadway became known as the Apache Trail, and Tortilla Flat served as a popular stagecoach stop for freight haulers. Tourists, mail carriers and other travelers frequented the stop throughout the 1930s.
In an effort to attract more tourists, Tortilla Flat owners Virgil Phelps and Joe Gondek built a small hotel in 1948. It operated until 1987 when a fire swept through the town, pretty much destroying everything in its path. The buildings have since been restored to their Old West grandeur, but the motel is no longer in operation.
The owners attempted to resurrect the motel in 2001 but were turned down by the Forest Service. The old motel, which is located right next to the saloon, now houses a gift shop and post office. The interior of this building, too, is blanketed in dollar bills.
- Tortilla Flat Restaurant and Saloon
- Phone: (480) 948-1776
- Open year round for breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Superstition Wilderness Area
My wife and i are in Apache Junction visiting my mother. We drove out to Tortilla Flat and came into your restaurant for breakfast. We asked the jolly, bald guy at the reception podium if it was alright to take photos. He’ll remember. We joked about our bald heads being solar panels. After that he took us back to a pair of really crappy seats at a tiny little dark table. The place was busy, but by no means packed. We asked the “waiter” if we might have a place with a little more light. He said, fine, follow me. We followed aa short way further back to a nice well lit room with several tables. The only other people in the room, were a young mother and aand infany, who were just leaving. As soon as we sat down, another “waiter” showed up and told us we’d have to move, as the tables were for six, or more only. we explained what had happened and the guy told us again that we’d have to move. As we were moving out towards the area where the saddle stools are one of the more ignorany, neanderthal doofs who was doing nothing except simultaneously scratching his ass and picking his nose, piped in that if we wanted seats with more light, “there’s more light in the restroom”. This snotty asshole made me so mad, we just left, knowing this is the kind of jerk-off that will mess with peoples food. Besides the fact that it’s highly unlikely that you food is anything but highly mediocre. I just thought you’d like to know what kind of customer service your moron wait staff is handing out. When i get back to Portland i intend to write a more complete review about your staff and how much they appreciate the tourist dollar and submit it to every tourism/food mag i can think of, including the Arizona tourism Ass. Of which, I am sure you are the biggest. tlh
Why are you addressing this to “you” and “your”? This piece is not an advertisement for Tortilla Flat nor was it written by anyone who has anything to do with running Tortilla Flat. It is one of many short feature articles written about places in Arizona and posted at this site, so bad-mouth a place if you must, but don’t blame Andrea Aker for your poor experience. There may be a time and a place for a nasty “review”, but this isn’t it.
OOPS! Sorry for the spelling. Must be the adreneline.:O)
Tom… Thanks for visiting Arizona. Don’t ever come back! Thank you.