What do these three legendary men have in common? True grit? Yes. A love for the West? Yes. Frequenting the same watering hole? Yes to that too.
Last week, Michelle and I explored central Arizona on our motorcycles. The sun was beating down on us and our bikes needed a rest. So, we stopped in Prescott, tied up our bikes outside in the shade, and sauntered in to The Palace Saloon to give our saddle-weary rear-ends a much needed rest and to kick back a cold one.
Because this establishment was once a den of iniquity, I kept my beautiful wife behind me as I slammed open the saloon doors and made my presence known. The cowboys at the bar took notice of my entrance and got a glimpse of my wife – but their eyes turned away quickly as they sized me up. They were no match for me and they knew it. It was wise of them to keep their eyes off of my beauty and go back to their quiet conversations.
Ok. Ok. That’s not what happened. But I did whack open the saloon doors – after making sure no one was standing on the other side of them. It felt good. It felt real. I felt like a cowboy…with my Steelers shirt on.
The Palace Saloon opened in 1877 and is the oldest frontier saloon in Arizona and the most well-known and historic restaurant and saloon in the state. In the late 1870′s, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday were patrons of The Palace on their way to Tombstone. A fire destroyed the establishment in 1900, but it was rebuilt and reopened in 1901 – and this version remains today.
It’s a fascinating saloon that feels like you’ve stumbled onto the set of an old western movie when you walk in. There are even “regulars” who frequent the bar every day dressed in full old-west attire. I asked our waitress if these men were part of some re-enactment taking place, and she told us that the men are the real deal. They are retired vets who dress this way every day and gather at the bar daily for a drink and to converse. I asked if we could get a picture with them, and they obliged. They had their guns on their hips, but I had my guns…on my arms. So, they kept their filthy little paws off my wife.
After we ate and kicked back a cold one, we explored the rest of the building. In the back, there’s a beautiful wooden staircase that once led to two rooms where things that I shan’t speak of took place. Today, these rooms serve as offices. The ceiling in the back of the building is riddled with bullet holes from days past when winners of poker games would celebrate by firing a shot into the ceiling.
What a fantastic place The Palace saloon is! There are probably better places to eat in Prescott, but you’ll not find a more enjoyable and historical western experience in all of Arizona.