“I always wanted to own a bar,” said Laura Ortega, who along with her husband Chris, moved to Puerto Peñasco from Casa Grande to do just that. They originally thought their bar and grill would be in Casa Grande, but when they started looking at options, Rocky Point looked inviting.
“We thought, ‘what’s missing in Rocky Point?’ We wanted to do a country theme and there was nothing like that here; so, why not?” Laura said. “We had come her often because my dad has lived in Rocky Point for many years and has had three restaurants here.”
Laura’s family also had a Mexican restaurant in Casa Grande. It moved twice but kept the same name, Café Manuel. At 15 she was working at the restaurant as a hostess, bussing dishes and waiting tables. “I didn’t know all aspects of the business, but I knew how it operated. I had worked in management and human resources for other companies, so I knew that part, though it is different here. There is a learning curve.”
Chris was in real estate for 14 years and considered this his retirement. “I am a numbers person, so I do the books and financials. I clock out at 6 p.m. but help out if needed. I let Laura make all the decisions.”
They pride themselves on their food and particularly on their meat. Their chef grinds all the meat for their burgers and is particular about the quality. The ground meat is much more flavorful than you’ll find in most burgers here. That’s because Chef also adds a special ingredient, about which I am sworn to secrecy.
They are justifiably proud of their chicken wings. They shop for larger, meatier wings and time the cooking, so the wings are still moist and tender. When you order wings “naked,” with the sauce on the side, you know when they’ve been cooked to perfection.
Another specialty is their Mani Nachos. Instead of a big pile of chips with cheese sauce, each chip is spread with beans, meat if desired, a jalapeno ring and fresh grated cheese, and served with guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream and salsa. As for beverages, they have a full bar and will soon be adding beer on tap.
If you want a full-on meal, order The Bounty, a rib-eye steak with baked potato and asparagus, or substitute fries or chili for the baked potato. If you prefer a vegetarian option, Chef created the Crunch Wrap which is a flour tortilla stuffed with beans, corn, mozzarella cheese, bell pepper, pico de gallo, a special cream and chilies. The combination was so tasty they decided to make a Meaty Crunch Wrap by adding sliced brisket. Something for everyone!
The next addition will be an American-style breakfast buffet on Saturday and Sunday from 8 to noon. They are closed on Monday, but every other day features a special: Tuesdays it’s Tostadas; Wednesdays it’s Singin’ and Wingin’ with karaoke and discounted chicken wings; Thursdays try those Classic Nachos with a beer; Fridays they feature fish and chips with a beer; Saturday it’s the American Classic Burger; and Sunday enjoy the chili bowl. All at a discount.
Happy Hour is Tuesday through Friday from 3 to 6 with discounts on wings, Wagon Wheels (onion rings), fries and nachos, plus discounts on Margaritas and domestic beer. They have live country music by Jason Johnson Tuesday through Friday and the Beach Cowboys on Saturday.
It’s not all about eating, drinking and singing. Dartboards are going in downstairs and a pool table is on the way. It will go on the shaded “Margarita Deck” upstairs. Zay’s Western Bar and Grill has a fun vibe – laid back and casual with good food, drinks and music. It’s the realization of Laura’s dream, which was forged by a family that’s been in the restaurant business for many, many years.
Though most of their family is still in Arizona, they stays close, especially with their grandchildren, Armani who is a year old and Izayah “Zay” who is 3 and the inspiration for the name of the bar and grill.
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- Zay’s is on Ave. Luis Encinas, one block west of Benito Juarez at Calle 12.
- Chris and Laura Ortega, owners and managers of Zay’s Western Bar and Grill.
- Zay’s offers food, full bar, live music, karaoke and camaraderie.