OK, so most celebrities really don’t have that much to do with restaurants that bear their names. They simply rent their name and image to a restaurateur. No matter. Most celebrity establishments are popular with the masses, even if the food sometimes is a secondary concern. Here are five celebrity-themed restaurants in the East Valley:
Shula’s Steak House: This Florida-based chain recently opened its first Arizona steak house at Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler. Each location honors coach Don Shula’s 1972 Miami Dolphins, the only NFL team to finish a season undefeated, and menus are painted on footballs. Those who finish the signature entrée, a 48-ounce porterhouse, are inducted into the 48-Ounce Club. 5040 W. Wild Horse Pass Boulevard, Chandler, (520) 796-1972.
Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill: An 85-foot, guitar-shaped bar (pictured above) is the centerpiece of the country singer’s seventh restaurant, which opened last year at Mesa Riverview. Other attractions include a mechanical bull, a stage for live music, a dance floor and a retail shop. The menu offers Southern comforts like fried chicken, fried pork chops, fried catfish, chicken fried steak and deep-fried Twinkies. 1065 N. Dobson Road, Mesa, (480) 844-8629.
Maria Maria La Cantina: This upscale Mexican restaurant, a collaboration between Grammy-winning musician Carlos Santana (who scored a No. 1 hit with the song “Maria Maria” in 2000) and acclaimed chef Roberto Santibañez, opened nearly two years at Tempe Marketplace. Popular entrees are the chicken and mole tortilla casserole, the chiles relleno (pictured) and the braised short ribs. 2000 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, (480) 449-3663.
Majerle’s Sports Grill: Former Phoenix Suns star (and current Suns assistant coach) Dan Majerle is the namesake of three Valley sports bars, including one at Chandler Fashion Center. Many of the menu items are named for formers Suns players and staffers, such as Al McCoy’s Hall of Fame Taco Salad, Joe Kleine’s Chicago Bleu Burger and the Sir Charles Chicken Sandwich. 3095 W. Chandler Boulevard, Chandler, (480) 899-7999.
Julio Cesar Chavez Campeones: This new 30,000-square-foot entertainment center in Mesa pays tribute to the legendary Mexican boxer and features a Mexican restaurant, a sports bar, an arcade and a cultural center. Waitresses dressed as ring girls deliver botanas (appetizers), tortas (sandwiches), camarones (shrimp), carnes y aves (meats and poultry) and postres (desserts). 1300 S. Country Club Drive, Mesa, (480) 610-1500.