Handlebar J's has updated their menu since I last reviewed them. This is a classic country not-to-be-missed restaurant and saloon. I loved the fish tacos and the service has improved greatly. They have also added some wonderful micro-brews to the menu.
The owner for more than 35 years, Gwen Herndon, is still gracing the restaurant and bar every night, keeping an eye on every detail. She's a wonder to watch as she goes around and greets everyone as if they are old friends... and many of them are. You feel like you are "home!"
As I said before - this isn't a "bar" in the strictest sense... it's a restaurant with a bar and dance floor attached. So bring the kids! Bring grandma. Bring your friends! There's live music almost every night, often from the Herndon Brothers (Gwen's sons and friends.) This is a GREAT dance band. I've traveled all over the western states and haven't found a combination of this kind of band and this kind of dancing anywhere outside Arizona. Add the microbrews, the new menu, the wonderful sense of family - and you have a wonderful night ahead of you when you visit this special place.
With the resurgence in dancing, this is a place you must see. Most of the regulars are better than many professional dancers. Actually, many of the dancers are competition dancers! It's a floor show, and great food, AND a great live band!
If you watch the dancers and want to learn, there are free dance lessons and a few options to hire one of those pro dancers to teach you. In this venue, it's not the usual awkward chugalug type dancing you see in many cowboy bars. Here you will find Cowboy ChaCha, Cowboy Waltz, Nightclub TwoStep, Texas Two Step, Arizona (Rhythm) Two Step, HalfTime, West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing, Texas Swing, Triple Step, and Triple Two Step - all executed beautifully. It's fun to watch and you will want to join in. Most of the dancers would be happy to take you on a whirl around the floor, so don't be afraid to ask one that you see out there regularly. They're just all there having fun.
Handlebars is History. It's fun. It's one of the longest running cowboy venues in Arizona. I just love it whenever I go. I think you will, too.
(BTW - for dancing, Wed, Thur, and Sunday seem to be the best. There's a cover only on Friday and Saturday. Two drink minimum every night. Little bit different crowd on the weekend. Best nights to bring a big party would be Tuesday, Thursday, or Sunday. I was there recently when they had 80 people for one party and it seemed to work well even with the smaller dance floor and the regular crowd.)
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