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Arizona Sonoran News

Off the beaten path: Tombstone locals’ hidden gem

Steve+Smith+and+friend+grabbing+a+beer+at+Johnny+Ringos.+%28Photo+by%3A+Savannah+Shippen+%2F+Arizona+Sonora+News%29
Steve Smith and friend grabbing a beer at Johnny Ringo’s. (Photo by: Savannah Shippen / Arizona Sonora News)
Steve Smith and friend grabbing a beer at Johnny Ringo’s. (Photo by: Savannah Shippen / Arizona Sonora News)

What used to be a stockyard neighbored by a historic railroad is now Tombstone locals’ favorite dining spot. Johnny Ringo’s Bar and the Depot Steakhouse is a fine-casual dining restaurant and bar that is known to have the best food in Tombstone, Arizona.

Steve and Addie Smith built Johnny Ringo’s from the ground up in 2001. After a dispute with the landlord in the downtown location of Johnny Ringo’s, the Smiths decided to create a secluded, eclectic and improved version of the restaurant and bar.

Steve Smith owns a construction company, so building wasn’t something that he was new to. He left knockout holes and bolts for a future addition. In 2006 the restaurant was finished with the addition of a western-inspired dining room that they named “The Depot.”

Johnny Ringo’s can be found outside the hustle and bustle of downtown Tombstone at 60 S. 10th St. The uniqueness of Johnny Ringo’s is that people hear about it through word-of-mouth. A two year employee of Johnny Ringo’s, Laura Zemaiduk, said, “I really do like being away from the main Tombstone strip, you don’t have to deal with all the drama that goes on downtown.”

Laura Zemaiduk, a two year employee of Johnny Ringo’s. (Photo by Savannah Shippen / Arizona Sonora News)

Not only is Johnny Ringo’s Tombstone local, it’s county local. “We get people from El Frita that come here all the time; people from Benson, Bisbee, Douglas, Sierra Vista. It’s not locally in town, it’s more like the county,” said Steve Smith.

He also admitted that it would be difficult for Johnny Ringo’s to survive in the city of 1,400 people. If tours from other countries, such as Germany or Japan, come through Tombstone, Johnny Ringo’s normally does not see them. But if they do, the Smiths know they were sent because of a loyal local’s recommendation.

The name of the addition, The Depot, was chosen because of the land’s connection to the old railroad. The interior is decorated with a variety of collectables including western, sports and railroad memorabilia. In The Depot, the wagon wheels in the walls are real ones that were used in historic Tombstone.

Steve pointed to the wall above one of the pool tables and said, “Do you like my boat? It’s my favorite part.” Steve’s “boat” is a sailboat made out of over 20 beer cans and was gifted to him by his daughter.

Every piece of art, furniture and décor in the restaurant has meaning to the Smiths and Tombstone’s history. There is also an outside patio with seating to accommodate “smokers, sun worshippers and customers with controllable, behaved pets.”

The Depot dining room. (Photo by: Savannah Shippen / Arizona Sonora News)

The bar and dining area are spacious and can accommodate large groups whether they are local families or tourists. “The bar fills up and The Depot fills up pretty good. Right now is the good season, from January to March, because we get the tourists from Tucson that visit the gem and mineral show and the rodeo,” said Steve Smith.

The menu ranges from Italian food, such as pizza and pasta, to Mexican cuisine and of course their signature steaks, ribeyes and prime ribs. The pizzas are extremely popular because they are made-to-order and served all day. All of the chefs are from Tombstone, which makes it even more of a local establishment.

“They’re great bar owners. It’s a great environment and it’s a local establishment so you know pretty much whom your clientele is walking through the door… I definitely enjoy working here,” Zemaiduk said.

Johnny Ringo’s Bar and The Depot Steakhouse (Photo by Savannah Shippen / Arizona Sonora News)

Tombstone attracts tourists who are looking for an escape from reality and a peek into the old Wild West. Johnny Ringo’s provides that escape: Tombstone history, genuine company, tasty food and a good time.

Savannah Shippen is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact her at [email protected]

Click here for a Word version of this story and high-resolution photos.

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Off the beaten path: Tombstone locals’ hidden gem