Dining in LA doesn’t have to be all about celebrity chefs, exorbitant prices, and the very latest food trends. As a matter of fact, there are several casual dining restaurants that are all about FUN and cater to residents and tourists alike. Such is the Saddle Ranch Chop House on Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, with an oddly themed mashup of the Wild West meets Hollywood Rock Star. No wonder this place is considered to be a dining ‘destination’ and an experience.
Although the Saddle Ranch is part of a small chain, with locations in Glendale, Arizona as well as more California counterparts in Valencia, Costa Mesa, and Orange County, the fact is the Sunset Strip locale was the first of it’s kind when it opened to rave reviews in September of 1999.
Given the bold exterior of the wood-paneled eatery, with its many western props including a stagecoach, cowboys on horseback, and scantily clad saloon girls on the balconies, the restaurant is definitely hard to miss.
The theme intensifies on the interior as guests enter through heavy red velvet drapes to wooden beams and floors, walls festooned with western memorabilia, and a mechanical bull that’s sure to provide dining entertainment as patrons test their luck on the contraption inside a large wooden ring. Two levels offer several wooden tables and chairs and a large oval bar in the middle of the first floor. And a sizeable patio allows for outdoor dining and boasts a unique feature in the form of a stone campfire pit, where diners are encouraged to roast s’mores.
Given almost 20 years of solid traffic, as both a kid-friendly restaurant and a nighttime hot spot, you can bet the wood floors and tables are now well-worn and heavily scuffed, and the velvet drapes are fading having seen better days. However, the aging process doesn’t seem to detract from the restaurant – it only manages to solidify the popularity of the place. So popular and distinctive, in fact, that Hollywood has featured Saddle Ranch on several TV shows, including “Six Feet Under”, “Desperate Housewives”, and “Sex in the City” to name but a few. Surely, fans of the latter will remember the scene in which the character of Miranda decides to tackle the infamous mechanical bull, whereupon her blouse busts its buttons and flies open as the gathering crowd cheers.
Back at the tables, diners can enjoy homestyle cooking of typically American cuisine that includes brunch, lunch, and dinner. Whether you’re looking for pancakes or prime rib, sandwiches or seafood, fish tacos or filet mignon, you’ll find it ALL right here and reasonably priced. You can also count on notably large portions so you won’t leave hungry.
Although we can’t speak for the breakfast/brunch menu, we can attest to the fact that the appetizer and dinner menus are every bit as tasty as they are extensive. There are plenty of unique and delicious Signature Dishes to be discovered, such as the Jalapeno Mac & Cheese, the Sweet Potato Fries with Marshmellow Cream, and the Tortilla Soup on the starters menu (starters priced $8-$18), as well as Bayou Cajun Pasta and Fried Chicken Breast dipped in Jalapeno Cornbread Batter on the dinner menu (dinners priced at $15-$40, with the exception of the specialty Butcher’s Cut of Prime Rib which is $58).
We highly recommend the Ribeye Steak, the burgers, and the ribs, all of which are tender and juicy. The pork chops are also a good bet and are topped with an apple bourbon glaze. Yummy! If you’re looking for something a little lighter, you can’t go wrong with the California wrap ($15). All prices in US dollars.
Whatever you do, leave room for dessert because Saddle Ranch has some sinfully sweet treats you won’t want to miss. Furthering the restaurant’s uniqueness, almost everything on the dessert menu is a Signature item, such as the Half-Baked Chocolate Chip Cookie, the Roast your own S’mores Platter, the Candy Bar Ice Cream Pie, and the infamous Cotton Candy Tower. Again, portions are large so you might want to consider sharing. All desserts priced at $8.49.
If alcoholic beverages are more your thing, the bar features a decent wine list (5 and 8 ounce servings priced at $10-$20) and plenty of inspired Specialty Drinks, including a Giant Cotton Candy Cocktail that features lots of the pink, fluffy stuff layered over vodka, peach schnapps and orange, cranberry, and pineapple juices – priced at $28.95.
The wait staff is friendly and fun-loving but, to be honest, are not the fastest we have ever encountered. We recommend that you go with expectations of having to wait. If service ends up being fast, you’ll be impressed. Also, be prepared for a lively atmosphere, both inside and out, with loud music and even louder patrons (both of which increase as the night wears on and Saddle Ranch becomes more of a bar). Certainly, this is not the place to go if you’re looking for a quiet, intimate meal. If, however, you’re looking for Hollywood celebrities, you just might get lucky here.
Saddle Ranch is open all week long for whatever meal of the day takes your fancy. Monday – Friday: 11:00am to 2:00am and Saturday & Sunday: 10:00am to 2:00am.
Bring your appetite, bring your camera, and bring a padded pair of pants just in case you decide to ride the mechanical bull.