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Scottsdale Stories

Cheers for the Coach House

Though we might not leap to admit it, who doesn’t love a good dive bar? Yes, I know that Scottsdale is known far and wide for quality drinking establishments with simply gorgeous architecture and a chi-chi ambience to match. But, one always feels a bit obligated to dress up and, quite honestly, I cherish just ambling over to a neighborhood watering hole in my shorts and flip-flops and wetting my whistle without donning a polo shirt and chinos every time I get thirsty.

The Coach House has thrived in Old Town Scottsdale since it opened in 1959. It’s the oldest tavern still standing in town, and is owned by the founding family to this day. Back then there was just one stoplight in Scottsdale, and you probably could have ridden here on a horse (and bought him a drink as well). Nowadays, the Coach House has the feel of our very own “Cheers,” with many regulars returning here year after year, season after season, many from out of state.  Lots of regulars return as generations, to celebrate special events or just cut the Arizona dust with family and make new friends.

Described lovingly as a self-professed dive bar by its loquacious manager David Bauer, the Coach House is kept very clean and safe for patrons by their loyal and longtime crew of bartenders and security gents. I talked with them at length while sipping a cold one, and was rather amazed by how many patrons they welcomed by first name as soon as they walked in the door. “Where everybody knows your name” seems to thrive here.

During MLB spring training you can belly up to the bar with fans of the Cactus League, way before and long after games, as the Coach House is open from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, 365 days a year. This leaves plenty of time to talk baseball past and present, and the full menu of draft and bottled beers will hydrate you after the last out is made at nearby Scottsdale Stadium or Salt River Fields. All the libations are priced far below the rising tide of spendy cocktails one finds now throughout the Valley of the Sun. And trust me, they offer a real honest pour. They pride themselves on offering fair value for your dive-bar dollar, and they deliver.

Hot Tip: Don’t miss the holiday lights from mid-November through New Year’s, transforming the Coach House into a dive bar with carnival colors and an Arizona atmosphere. Cheers!

I've spent my life photographing the wild lands of the American West and Pacific Rim and the people who live here. It's been the realization of a dream to make a living showing people exploring and enjoying their environment, and to share their dreams through the looking glass that is photography.