By ANDREW PAXTON
Anyone who has taken a trip to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Old Tucson Studios, Kitt Peak or Saguaro National Park West probably noticed a small building with a covered wagon in the parking lot.
Tiny’s Saloon and Steakhouse, located at 4900 W. Ajo Highway, is about 5 miles from I-19 at the intersection of Kinney Road.
The restaurant is a throwback to another time, with cowboy-themed regalia on the walls and country music playing over the speakers.
The decor clearly caters to tourists visiting west-side scenic spots.
“When the snowbirds come in, all hell breaks loose,” waitress Linda Breen said. “I love it.”
But I don’t go to Tiny’s for the music or decor. I have been a customer for more than two decades for one very simple reason: Steerburgers.
These signature hamburgers are some of the best around town.
Available in quarter-pound or half-pound offerings, the burger can be ordered with a host of toppings and is accompanied by a herd of fries. When the first bite begins to melt in your mouth, you will understand why people say the Steerburger is a must-order menu item.
The family-friendly restaurant boasts an impressive 89 percent approval rating on urbanspoon.com and 4.5 out of 5 ranking on tripadvisor.com, due in no small part to the iconic burger.
“I am a real hamburger lover and this place turns out real hamburgers!” one reviewer wrote on tripadvisor.com.
Tiny’s also serves up hot wings, sandwiches and, as the name implies, steaks. And since no self-respecting saloon can operate without serving alcohol, Tiny’s offers a robust selection of adult-beverages at low prices.
In fact, everything is affordable at Tiny’s. An average meal for two costs less than $25, including tip. Mixed drinks and pitchers of beer start at a few bucks each.
Cash is the only form of payment accepted. There is an onsite ATM.
The establishment isn’t afraid to shake the old-fashioned vibe with flat-screen TVs and karaoke nights, although the selection of songs performed is decidedly western-flavored.
This place is one of the few watering holes for miles around. If you stop in on a Friday or Saturday night, expect the joint to be packed with interesting characters.
Remember, most of these folks live away from the city because they are a little rough around the edges. Trust me, I grew up in the area affectionately referred to as “The Hill” and people out there don’t take any crap. But that doesn’t mean they are unfriendly.
“The people who come in are great,” said Brandi Wood, a high school friend of mine who has worked at Tiny’s on and off for six years. “I know everyone who comes in. It gets crazy but I love working here.”
I recommend visiting on a Tuesday afternoon to enjoy a Steerburger for a dollar off.
Tiny’s Saloon and Steakhouse is well worth the drive, even if horseshoes on the wall aren’t your idea of proper style.
Tiny’s Saloon and Steakhouse
Address: 4900 W. Ajo Highway
Hours: Daily except Friday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-midnight