New Year's Eve at Tonto

For 20 years, Tonto Bar & Grill has been ushering in the new year with friends old and new in the beauty of the Tonto National Forest at Rancho Mañana. Join the celebration this year and enjoy our fantastic New Year’s Eve special menu, featuring organic, locally sourced offerings.

Choose from our outstanding acclaimed desert-to-table menu, or try selections from our carefully crafted New Year’s Eve special menu, including crusted New York strip and butter-poached lobster tail.

Tonto Bar & Grill is located in one of the most picturesque spots in the Phoenix area at Rancho Mañana Golf Club in Cave Creek. Surrounded by the Tonto National Forest, the site was once a renowned dude ranch in earlier days of Arizona history. We still celebrate our heritage and remain stewards to the land. Many of our seasonal offerings come from the desert, and our meats and seafood are butchered in-house. All of our sauces, breads, dressings and desserts are made in-house daily from a variety of organic, sustainable, and seasonal ingredients.

Call 480-488-0698 for reservations.

We are located at 5736 E. Rancho Mañana Blvd. in Cave Creek, AZ. New Year’s Eve Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. December 31.


Celebrate Christmas Eve with Tonto Bar & Grill
Celebrate Christmas Eve with Tonto Bar & Grill

We’re decking the halls at Tonto Bar and Grill! Join us Christmas Eve from 4:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. for fabulous festive fare, including our award-winning menu and holiday specials that will leave visions of sugar plums – Southwestern style – dancing in your head!

Choose from our acclaimed desert-to-table menu and enjoy the taste of fresh, quality food. Christmas Eve is the perfect time to try something extra special, so we’ve cooked up a fantastic Christmas Eve menu just for our holiday guests.

Tonto Scenic Outdoor PatioTonto Bar & Grill is located in one of the most picturesque spots in the Phoenix area at Rancho Mañana Golf Club in Cave Creek. Surrounded by the Tonto National Forest, the site was once a renowned dude ranch in earlier days of Arizona history.

We still celebrate our heritage and remain stewards to the land. Many of our seasonal offerings come from the desert, and our meats and seafood are butchered in-house. All of our sauces, breads, dressings and desserts are made in-house daily from a variety of organic, locally sourced ingredients.

Call 480-488-0698 for Christmas Eve reservations. Tonto Bar & Grill will be closed Christmas Day.

Tonto Bar & Grill and Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House are the perfect unique settings to hold group gatherings, such as company holiday parties, family holiday gatherings, wedding rehearsal dinners and bridal showers. We can accommodate large and small private groups, with cocktail spaces and dining accommodations available.


Call 480-488-0698 for group reservations.


Thanksgiving To-Go at Tonto
Let Tonto Bar and Grill handle all the turkey talk this year. Order your dinner for pick-up by Nov. 24.

If your schedule is more stuffed than your Thanksgiving turkey is going to be, why not let Tonto Bar and Grill take care of the cooking for you?!

Sit back and relax. You do the “thanks,” and we’ll do the “giving.” Each individual carry-out feast includes:

We’ve even got the pumpkin pie covered! You’ll enjoy our extra special version of Gingersnap Cookie-Crusted Sauteed Sweet Potato Chutney and Chocolate Caramel Tartlet with Maple Brown Sugar Sauce.

Cost is $30 per person, plus tax. Reservations must be received by November 24. Call 480-488-0698 to place your order.

Tonto Bar and Grill will be closed Thanksgiving Day, so pick-up time is between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27.

Gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan menus are also available.

Additional salad (Mixed Greens, Poached Pears, Sun-Dried Cranberries, Bleu Cheese Dressing) can be purchased for $3 per person.

Rodney Strong Chardonnay ($25), La Crema Pinot Noir ($36), and Kenwood Yulupa Merlot ($25) are also available for purchase.

Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House will be open Thanksgiving Day; however, dinner there is currently sold-out.

Dinnertime at Cartwright's RanchBack in the old days, there was nothing more anticipated and celebrated than the ringing of the dinner bell. On the 65,000-acre Cartwright’s Range, it took a full month for ranchers and hands to round up cattle before a drive. They’d indulge in biscuits and gravy before the sun came up, and by dinner time at noon, they’d be good and ready for a meal of fresh baked bread, beans, canned or fresh greens

Join us for lunch at Cartwright's Sonoran Ranch House
Baja dorado fish tacos with green tomato, poblano, cabbage and jicama chow chow, cotija queso & margarita crema, and roasted jalapeno. 15.

and a hunk of beef from a recently butchered steer. Supper time meant even more of the same, giving the working men fuel for the next day’swrangling.

In that tradition, our sister restaurant, Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House, has opened its doors for lunch. The fare has gotten decidedly better in the last hundred years or so, with offerings like dorado fish tacos, made-to-order organic elk/buffalo or corn-fed beef burgers, and salads so filled with flavor that even the burliest rancher will walk away satisfied. You can also enjoy a cold brew from our famous craft beer selection.

Cartwright's Ranch Burger
Choose from either an organic elk/bison burger or corn-fed beef burger with your choice of white cheddar or pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle planks, carmelized onions on a house-made sweet potato bun. 13.

Choose from either an organic elk/bison burger or corn-fed beef burger with your choice of white cheddar or pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle planks, carmelized onions on a house-made sweet potato bun. 13.

Lunch at Cartwright’s is no less anticipated than it was for the cowboys and hands who tamed this north Phoenix land. Join us each day starting at 11 a.m. Whether you’re wearing boots or oxfords, we’ve got a place at the table for you at Cartwright’s and Tonto Bar and Grill!

Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House is located at 6710 E. Cave Creek Rd. in Cave Creek, AZ. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day.

For daily lunch specials, follow Cartwright’s on Facebook!

Tonto Bar and Grill steak and halibut special
Join us at Tonto Bar and Grill for a satisfying dining experience 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

As always, Tonto Bar and Grill, located at 5736 E. Rancho Manana Blvd. in Cave Creek is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Our own award-winning selection of signature dishes is available seven days a week.

Follow us on Facebook!

Scallops at Tonto Bar and Grill
Gluten-free doesn’t have to mean “tasteless” at Tonto Bar and Grill.

If you’re sensitive to the gluten found in wheat, rye and barley, eating out can be filled with guesswork and a whole lot of stress. Especially when your gluten sensitivity can mean serious health problems, like severe headaches, body pains, fatigue, and major stomach issues including celiac disease, the autoimmune disorder worsened by gluten ingestion.

So how do you figure out what’s safe to eat out on your gluten-free diet?

Some restaurants don’t provide gluten-free menus at all, while others require you to search through those annoyingly long “allergy/nutrition” charts online that literally take you hours to navigate. So basically, you have to email every restaurant that you want to eat at just to get their gluten-free menus (if any are available!).

Eating gluten free is not a problem here, though. For years, we’ve carefully listened to what celiac and gluten-sensitive diners have told us. That’s why both Tonto and Cartwright’s have offered Gluten-Free Menus for over eight years…way before I discovered that I have a gluten allergy myself.

We’ve always stayed ahead of the curve, serving delicious gluten-free options that provide the same outstanding, fine-dining experience every diner has come to expect at Tonto and Cartwright’s, including our selection of house-made gluten-free breads and desserts. In fact, our menus are not only listed in The Gluten-Free RegistryTM, they’ve received the registry’s highest “5-smile” rating.

Here’s a sneak peak at the delectable gluten-free dishes we have to offer…

Start you meal at Tonto with a Roasted Yellow Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho, followed by Root Beer-Braised Beef Short Ribs, Sweet Potato, Caramelized Onion and Leek Gratin, Green Beans, Garlic and Smoked Arizona Pecans, and end with our mouth-watering Chocolate Coconut Cake. Or at Cartwright’s, choose a starter of Skillet-Seared Quail Breast with Tempranillo Blackberry Sauce and an entrée of Pan-Seared All-Natural Chicken Breasts, Dijon Buerre Blanc, Roasted Tomato, Fennel, Sweet Corn and Fingerling Potatoes, and close your meal with our Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée.

Many times over the years, grateful patrons have told us how much they appreciate and enjoy our selection of delicious gluten-free cuisine. They thank us profusely…they’ve even cried with gratitude.

When you dine at Tonto and Cartwright’s, giving up gluten doesn’t mean you’ll ever have to sacrifice taste or quality. We make sure you’ll take pleasure in every gluten-free bite…from appetizer to entrée to dessert, including our own gluten-free breads.

The food critics (and the public) were eating out of our hands (quite literally!) at this year’s Devoured Phoenix Culinary Classic, on March 9-10. Arizona’s premier annual culinary event showcased the fine food and drink producers and purveyors and was hosted by Phoenix Art Museum, Local First Arizona and Devour Phoenix.
Tonto and Cartwright’s chefs cooked up their favorite dishes in the company of culinary excellence, amid the strongest field assembled in Devoured’s four-year history (nine if you count the 2005-09 incarnation of the festival, when it was called West of Western).

Chef Ryan Peters (above) from Tonto, went all out showing his talents with an Arizona inspired  Ancho Chile Seared Diver Scallop, Smoked Arizona Sweet Corn Puree, Crispy Berkshire Bacon, Avocado Foam, Hand-Picked Prickly Pear Gastrique.

While Cartwright’s Chef Montez (above) Crane had the perfect warm dish fitting the less-than-perfect colder weather, with his Cheyenne Indian Buffalo & Chipotle Sausage, Fresh Herbed Spätzle, Braised Red Cabbage with Mesquite Wood-Smoked Bacon.

The great news is that folks at the Devoured event really ate up our delicious cuisine, as well as honoring it with awards, praise and rave reviews.

Howard Seftel, The Arizona Republic’s restaurant critic, awarded GOLD to both Tonto Bar & Grill and Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House.

Taryn Jeffries, Phoenix Bites staff writer, bestowed Tonto with the honor of being in the top 5 at the Devoured  Culinary Classic for our Ancho Chile Seared Diver Scallops and paid tribute to these tasty treats with delectable kudos,These little rounds of perfection were served with a smoked Arizona sweet corn puree, crispy Berkshire bacon, avocado foam and a hand-picked prickly pear gastrique. Word must have traveled fast as the line was long for this offering but definitely worth the wait.”

Jess Harter of Mouth by Southwest, the #1 source for food and drink in the East Valley, named Tonto as Best of Show (first runner-up) and described the Tonto tent where, “…at least a dozen people always were waiting patiently while the chef seared scallops a half-dozen at a time.” Then, the description went on with, “Here’s what people were waiting for: a seared scallop topped with a crispy piece of bacon. It was placed atop a sweet corn sauce and beneath an avocado puree. Totally worth the wait.”

Gwen Ashley Walters, News & Nibbles writer for Pen & Fork, commented that, “Tonto Bar & Grill brought one of the best dishes (I wasn’t the only one who thought so based on the day-long lines). Who can resist a perfectly seared scallop with sweet corn puree and a snippet of bacon for good measure?”

Chef/owner Eric Flatt of both Tonto Bar & Grill and Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House, worked the cowboy side, dishing up bison sausage with sautéed red cabbage and Fresh Herbed Spätzle. Also on hand for the event were Amanda Malcolm, manager of Cartwright’s, Operations Manager Smith, Shari Flatt, and Courtney Nash.

We’re all ecstatic to share our Devoured successes, and are particularly delighted to have brought home the bacon (as well as using it with our tasty scallops and buffalo sausage!).

Look for us (and satisfy your sweet tooth) at our next big culinary event, where Pastry Chef Amanda Crick and Assistant Pastry Chef Erin Glassburn take on the Caramelpalooza 2013 candy-making challenge on April 5, 2013. For more information visit:

What a juicy year it’s been for us. As we look back, we’d like to share what we think are our most appetizing occasions and tasty events of the year. Sink your teeth into the year’s biggest stories and awards from the kitchens and tables of Tonto Bar and Grill and Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House.









Tonto Bar & Grill Prickly Pear 024





What’s next for 2013?
We are just gearing up for a year full of appetizing events.

Contrary to what you’re probably thinking right now, I’m not going to tell you about deep sea fishing (and you know that there’s no ocean here in the middle of the Sonoran desert, anyway). Instead, I am going to take you with us into the nearby desert for another hand-picked cactus harvest.

“Huh?” you’re saying to yourself. “What the heck does ‘wrangling tuna’ have to do with the Arizona desert?” First, you have to understand that “tuna” (or tuna fig) is one of the names for the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. And harvesting them in late August when it’s very hot and getting those thorny fruits off the spiny plant and processing them are not easy tasks, so “wrangling” seems like an apt description of what we endure to get these delicacies onto our tables and into your drinks and sauces. That’s why, over the years, the method has been dubbed “tuna wrangling.”

Ripe for the picking
A peek inside


In this less-than-ideal environment, we ventured out to hand-pick and prepare the fruit of the prickly pear cactus, just like Native Tribes of the southwestern United States and Mexico have done for centuries before us, where it has been a valued source for food and medicine. These days, prickly pear jam is a frequent tourist souvenir, and the fruit is sold as the cure for chronic inflammation and pain. Here, at Tonto and Cartwright’s, the sweet, somewhat strawberry tasting fruit has much more delicious uses in our unique cocktails, desserts and sauces.

The prickly pear’s large, colorful blossoms appear in yellow, pink, red or purple and grow from the tip of cactus nodules (paddles) or “nopales.” These blossoms later ripen into the delicious red fruit appropriately named prickly pear, (and also called nopal cactus fruit, cactus pear, Barbary pear, Indian fig and, of course, tuna fig…or simply “tuna”) that is ready for harvest during the late summer and early fall.

Before I discuss this year’s harvest, I’d like to tell you an interesting prickly pear tale. According to Mexican legend, this cactus played a key role with the Aztecs. After they were forced out of Chapultepec, they wandered for the next 200 years, searching for a place to settle. Their main god, Huitzilopochtli, appeared to the leaders and told them to find a place where a great eagle was perched on a cactus killing a snake. This place was eventually found on an island in Lake Texcoco in 1325 and named as their capital–Tenochtitlan, “the Place of the Prickly Pear Cactus.”

Pastry Chef Amanda Crick
Chef Ryan Peters

Back to our 2012 tuna wrangling. Our chefs and I ventured out into the desert to harvest the prickly pear using long metal tongs to grasp the fruit, then gave them a half turn to plop them off the pads. We placed them in a plastic bucket, took them to the kitchen, gave them a nice bath and placed them on our mesquite wood grill to burn off the spines. Next, we positioned them in a large skillet, added some water and sugar, and poached them until tender. Then, we pureed the mixture and put it through a strainer.

Cooked puree going through the first strainer
Tonto's Prickly Pear Margarita

What happens with the resulting mixture is yours for the tasting. You can sip one of our prickly pear margaritas or a prickly pear martini or margatini…and even finish off your meal with a one-of-a-kind, mouth-watering dessert named a “Prickly Pear Cake Pop.” Plus, you’ll find it in some of our special BBQ sauces and dressings, like our “Hand-Picked Saguaro Fruit Vinaigrette.” Be sure to check them out for yourself on the Tonto Bar and Grill and Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House drink, appetizer, entree and dessert menus.

Prickly Pear BBQ Glazed Salmon Salad


Prickly Pear Cake Pops

You may also want to check out Nikki Buchanan’s blog on Chow Bella:

(The Cartwright’s Experience…According to Chef Montez Crane)   

Listening to Montez Crane, Cartwright’s Executive Chef, discuss his take on food captures the heart and soul of the dining experience at Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House.

Before you really can understand what he’s talking about, you have to mentally step back in history about 100 years. Now, imagine sitting down for a special ranch-style Sunday meal with family. That’s the essence of Cartwright’s dining experience—with that same warm and wonderful sense of being surrounded by kinfolk, savoring the familiar, mouthwatering aromas, and tasting the very spirit of the Old West in every bite. Chef Crane simply describes Cartwright’s cuisine as, “Down-home, ranch-style food that’s been given ‘big shoulders’…it’s beefed up to the level of fine dining, without sacrificing our roots.”

Chef Montez
Chef Montez Crane

Chef Seth Crane, who prefers to be called by his nickname, Montez, is a member of the Seneca tribe out of western New York. He pays homage to his maternal grandmother, Norma, for his love of cooking. “She was a huge influence on me,” he said, adding that she was the best cook he’s ever known. “She’d get up in the morning and start cooking. She made everything from scratch…. People were always thrilled to be invited to dinner.”

Not only does he take great pride in the food, drinks and service, like everyone at Cartwright’s, he also aims to preserve Arizona’s heritage through the cuisine and by sharing the stories of the property’s past. The restaurant was appropriately named after the Cartwright family, local ranchers who were integral in improving the quality of beef in Arizona. In fact, Manfred Cartwright was the founding member of the Arizona Cattleman’s Association. As Chef Crane boasts, “We take great satisfaction in paying tribute to these traditions every day. We use Southwestern ingredients, top-notch beef and game meats, and the best quality seafood we can find, and present them in a warm, welcoming atmosphere rich in Arizona lore.”

“I like making comfort food from scratch, working with native ingredients—that’s right up my alley,” he said. And this unique, creative cooking style, along with an American History major in college, really paid off when he and Eric Flatt, Cartwright’s co-owner, sat down to plan meals for their second annual series of “Arizona History Dinners,” honoring our state’s colorful legends, lore and tastes. (New presentations with dinners will take place every second Wednesday through October, so be sure to check them all out on Cartwright’s Events Page.)

Chef Crane revealed that he sometimes enjoys eating “breakfast for dinner.” To feed this secret desire, he cooked up an imaginative twist on Eggs Benedict to nourish any ranch-sized dinner appetite and pay homage to the restaurant’s heritage. His unique Benedict-Style Braised Pork, like its breakfast cousin, comes with Poached Eggs, House-Made Cheese Biscuits, Tomato Jam, Sauce Béarnaise, and a delectable Sweet Potato-Tortilla Hash. In his own words, “I like to take the familiar and give it broader shoulders.” And every item on Cartwright’s dinner menu proves that.

Campfire S'more
Campfire S'more

The man behind your Cartwright’s meal is at the head of the table when it comes to his talented kitchen staff, as well, who share his passion about food and eating. To nurture this enthusiasm, they all sit down to family-style evening meals where they openly share ideas and unabashedly build their team spirit.

Summing up the experience he wants for each Cartwright’s diner, Chef Crane said, “Comfortable, Approachable. Great food and service in a unique atmosphere.” He takes great pride in continuing the tradition of fine American ranch cuisine, “Celebrating a time when grandma ruled the kitchen with benevolent authority, taking impeccable care in creating a spectacular meal.”

The fruit of the iconic saguaro is an important food source for both wildlife and the people who have lived in the desert for thousands of years.

To the native Tohono O’odham people, the saguaro cactus is considered an honored relative that sustains them both spiritually and physically. According to their mythology, the first saguaro was created when a young woman sank deep into the earth and rose back out as a giant cactus, arms raised toward the heavens. Once a year during the hot months of June and July, that majestic saguaro maiden dresses up with striking white flowers in her hair, then bears a crimson fruit called bahidaj in the O’odham language.

These fruits have been harvested for centuries by knocking or pulling them off the tops of the tall saguaros with long poles called kukuipad (sometimes 15 feet or more) made of saguaro ribs lashed together end-to-end, with a cross bar made of segai (greasewood/creosote) tied at a 45 degree angle near the top of the pole. As part of the tradition, the first fruit picked is rubbed on the fruit picker’s body near the heart. Then, the fruit goes on the ground with the red side facing the sun after the red meat is removed. To this Sonoran Desert tribe, the sun will draw up the moisture from the fruit into the sky, to make the clouds and the monsoon rain.

Like native American’s have done for generations, Tonto Bar and Grill’s Head Chef Ryan Peters, Co-Owner Eric Flatt and their team (including Eric’s 9-year-old son, Jake) ventured out into the nearby desert to participate in the recent, annual fruit saguaro harvest. And hand-picking the fruit was no easy job.

The height of the saguaro and its sharp spines make harvesting fruits particularly challenging. When the ripest fruit is knocked off the cactus, the meat often pops out of the fleshy shell. If it does not, the harvester can use the stem of the fruit as a knife to open closed fruit. The meat is placed is a bucket (traditionally, the fruits were placed in baskets).

After our hand-picked harvest, Chef Ryan and Jake cleaned all the fruit that was made into the syrup, described as somewhat sweet, like a cross between rhubarb and strawberry. The fruit meat is boiled with water until it turns orange. The liquid is strained through cloth to remove the seeds that can be dried and used in place of poppy seeds. In order to make syrup, the liquid is poured back into the pot and boiled again until it just starts to get sticky. The slightly cooled syrup called sitol is poured into jars for storage or the meat can be dried to eat like candy.

Now our chefs are heating up your summer dining experience with seasonal dishes featuring the saguaro fruit. In our ongoing desert-to-plate tradition, the saguaro is used in Tonto’s scrumptious daily lunch and dinner locavore specials and on our entrée menu in such unique taste sensations as our Skillet-Seared Scallops with Orange Tamarind Glaze and a Hand-Picked Saguaro Fruit Vinaigrette. Also look for special dishes using other seasonal ingredients harvested on our property, such as ocotillo flowers, cholla buds, jojoba beans, prickly pear fruit, palm dates and Mormon tea. (For more information on our locally harvested ingredients, please visit our website under About us /Tonto’sPantry.)