Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House
Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House honors the spirit of Arizona’s ranching days with rustic yet upscale dining.
By: Eric Flatt
Located on Saguaro Hill and overlooking Black Mountain and the Sonoran desert foothills, the restaurant’s ambience inside is as captivating as the setting outside. A hacienda style dining room, enclosed patio and private wine room boast artistic touches such as straw-packed walls, sandstone and slate accents, woodwork from local mesquite, and a fireplace in each room.
The interior recalls the original ranch house built by Jackson (Manford) Cartwright in the early 1900s. His father, Redick “Red” Jasper Cartwright, a former Union soldier in the Civil War, brought his wife and 10 children from Illinois to northern California and then Arizona, a grueling journey in those days.
In 1877, the family moved to Phoenix and became farmers and ranchers around present-day Maryvale. Cartwright and his sons helped build the Grand Canal, and Red also built the first schoolhouse near 59th Avenue and Thomas Road – an area still known as the Cartwright District.
In 1887, Red Cartwright traded his land for 160 head of cattle and soon moved north to Seven Springs in Cave Creek. In 1902, Red’s son Manford built a home on the ranch with his new wife, Beulah Green, and started a family.
Eventually the Cartwright Ranch occupied 65,000 acres and herded 5,668 cows. Manford ranched until age 71, when a horse fell on him and the saddle horn penetrated his stomach. He continued to run the business, but left the riding to his son, Jackson “Jack Jr.” Cartwright. Jack took the reins in 1938 and ran it until 1980, when he sold it to a Mesa family who continue to operate it.
Today, Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House owners Eric Flatt and John Malcolm share the story of these three generations at their fine dining venue, located just south of the ranch. Flatt, a trained chef, has a background in raising and butchering beef, so he chooses the best cuts and is committed to offering only all-natural meats, including local grass-fed beef.
Keeping with the goal of preserving Arizona’s past, Cartwright’s is proudly partnering with Bob Boze Bell, executive editor of True West Magazine, to bring to life “True West Moments” in Arizona history every other Wednesday. These “history pairing dinners” marry Bell’s unique storytelling talents with the culinary skills of the Cartwright’s kitchen staff. The tales delve into the glorious and often infamous people who shaped our colorful state, and the dishes are appropriately themed to match. For example, a talk about Asian chuckwagon cooks would feature an appetizer of crispy duck egg rolls, entrée of beef sukiyaki cooked in a plow blade, 5-spice peanut fried rice and dessert of mango and ginger ice cream with house-made fortune cookies.
Cartwright’s is a stunning tribute to a family who helped pioneer ranching traditions in the American West. It’s located at 6710 E. Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek, Ariz., 85331. Hours are 4:30-9:30 p.m. daily. For information, call 480-488-8031 or visit www.CartwrightsSonoranRanchHouse.com.