Originally founded in 1987 as the tourism arm of the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce, Experience Scottsdale became a standalone organization in 2001. The organization has more than 40 full- and part-time employees, along with a volunteer board of directors composed of local hospitality and tourism industry leaders.
Handlebar J Restaurant and Saloon gives visitors an authentic wild west experience through and through. Known for their excellent ribs--their proprietary sauce is made with Coca Cola and bourbon--and cowboy fixings, the food is down-home deliciousness. But what really sets Handlebar J apart is the incredible history here.
Before it became the Scottsdale legend it is today, the restaurant was known as Wild Bill's. At the time, there were very few bars in North Scottsdale as the area was populated mainly by rattlesnakes, tumbleweeds, and rough and tumble cowboys. Chickenwire around the stage kept rowdy patrons from nightly performers, one of which was a then-unknown Waylon Jennings. As legend has it, original owner Wild Bill was showing Waylon how to twirl a gun when it dropped to the floor and went off. Luckily no one was hurt, but the bullet hole it left in a wooden post remains to this day.
Fast forward to the present: Handlebar J retains much of the cowboy history of its predecessor and adds contemporary food and country music to the mix. Along with the legendary bullet hole, the interior features cowboy hats lining the ceiling, horseshoes on the walls, and Arizona license plates outside. Live country music plays six nights a week, and line dancing is popular with the crowds here.
Over the years, famous visitors have included Matthew McConaughey, Huey Lewis, Jimmy Fallon, Vince Gill and Toby Keith.
Cover photo credit: experiencescottsdale.com