Today’s I’m escaping California to visit Desert Bar — a rustic restaurant and watering hole located in the Buckskin Mountains of Parker, Arizona. Also known as the Nellie E Saloon, this unique eatery sits on the site of an old copper mine. It’s a rough and bumpy five miles to the bar on Cienega Springs Road, but it’s well worth the trip. Its unique location makes it a popular destination for off-road riders.
Opened in 1983 by Ken Coughlin, Desert Bar is run entirely on solar power. It boasts two restaurants, a bar, and live music on the weekends. And well behaved pets are welcome!
Ahern’s Off the Grid Solar Kitchen, the main Desert Bar restaurant, serves up a menu of fast foods, including burgers, garlic fries and chicken wraps. One of their specialties is the smoked tri tip and pulled pork. Be sure to place your order early, along with plenty of cash. They don’t take credit cards. Each food item costs about $13. This place is so popular that it can easily take up to an hour to get your food.
A second restaurant, not nearly as crowded, serves up $5 turkey, salmon, chili, veggie and hamburgers, or hot dogs and chili dogs. The Nellie E Saloon serves domestic canned beers and a variety of well drinks. It also has a gift shop where you can pick up one of their souvenir Desert Bar T-shirts.
While you’re here, you can play a few rounds of horseshoes, and then check out the tiny steel church, which was completed in 1995. The walls and ceiling are made of stamped tin and the roof is made of copper.
Due to the desert’s extreme heat, the bar is open October through April only. Live music is performed from 1-5 p.m. Saturdays and 12:30-4:30 p.m. Sundays. Desert Bar Hours are noon until 6 p.m., Saturday & Sunday.
The “Nellie E Saloon” is located 5 miles off the Cienega Springs Rd exit on Hwy-95, approximately 5 miles north of Parker, Arizona.