Old-school hangouts for a retro tour of Phoenix


Rome has the Colosseum. New York has the Empire State Building. Phoenix has...the Taco Guild? Yes, major cities across the globe have historic landmarks that showcase local accomplishments. Phoenix is no exception. We may not have towering skyscrapers or ancient relics, but we have an old cowboy bar built in the 1950s. Take that, Paris. Next time you're in Phoenix, head to these old school hangouts for a retro tour of the city.

Taco Guild

Arizona became the 48th state in the nation in 1912. Taco Guild was built 19 years prior in 1893. Well, technically, the building was known as Bethel Methodist Church at the time. For nearly 120 years, this downtown Phoenix church served as a place of worship. Now, this renovated church is a haven for taco worship. Taco Guild is a renowned gastropub that serves some of the best tacos in the country. The taco gods have bestowed this restaurant with many blessings. This 19th-century building is home to insanely delicious tortillas, farm fresh ingredients, and legendary taco creations. Praise the sweet lord as you gorge on favorites like the al pastor pork, urban bean coffee braised beef, and Peking duck tacos.

Hotel San Carlos

Phoenix was once a hot spot for celebrities. It may seem unlikely, but this hellish desert wasteland was once a playground for the Hollywood elite. Their favorite place to stay was the Hotel San Carlos. This downtown Phoenix hotel opened in 1928 and immediately became a hub for celebrities. To this day, the hotel has two-room suites named in honor of the famous guests who stayed there. This includes a laundry list of your grandpa's favorite stars like Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, and Humphrey Bogart. Just don't expect a good night's sleep. This hotel is allegedly haunted and even appeared in Alfred Hitchock's thriller Psycho.

Sugar Bowl

Sugar Bowl is a classic ice cream parlor that's been serving up childhood favorites since 1958. Their delicious treats will transport you to a simpler time when you didn't have to worry about pesky things like "calories" or "high blood pressure." You can grab creamy shakes and malts, decadent ice cream scoops, and old school candy in this throwback parlor. Sugar Bowl is also located inside a legendary pink building that draws comparisons to strawberry ice cream, strawberry shortcake, and Pepto-Bismol.

Coach House

Old Town Scottsdale has plenty of bars. However, most of their bars are filled with overly loud music, overly packed crowds, and overpriced drinks. Sometimes, you just need some good ole fashioned drinking. Head to the Coach House if that's your style. This dive bar has been liquoring up locals since 1959. This small watering hole has seemingly remained unchanged since Eisenhower era. It has old, Southwestern decor, a large patio, and the cheapest drinks in Scottsdale.

Rustler's Rooste

Rustler's Rooste is an iconic Phoenix landmark and restaurant. Opened in 1971, this cowboy themed hangout has become a legendary destination for tourists. What makes it so iconic? For one, there's the location. It sits atop South Mountain and has unparalleled views of the city. Then there's the menu, which includes western favorites like steak and even rattlesnake. Finally, there's the live bull parked out front. Though his stench may be legendary, he adds a touch of western flair to this bucket list restaurant.

Pizza Mart

You know you're starting to get old when arcade games like Mortal Kombat are considered "retro." Regardless, Pizza Mart is a Mesa restaurant and arcade filled with 80s nostalgia. They have all your 80s favorites right down to the $5.50 large pizzas, $.50 cent ice cream cones, and legendary arcade games. Forget about your troubles while you down a pepperoni slice and school a 10-year-old in Pac-Man. Pizza Mart is a prime lunch spot whether you're with the kids or just looking to relive your glory days as a pinball wizard.



John Kuells is a freelancer writer and Phoenix native. He can be found writing on his blog The Book of Kuells.