Ditka's - What I Liked
- Relatively straightforward menu.
- Not too large. High ceiling, tables well-spaced.
- Nice wine list, with about 25 available by the glass.
- Portions are adequate to large, depending on the item.
- Expensive, by most standards. Especially for West Phoenix.
- Yes, the restaurant is at a casino, and you have to walk through the casino, smoke and all, to get there.
- The decor was generic, except for a large "painting" of Mike Ditka and friends, and a few smaller Ditka photos. If you are looking for a memorabilia collection, you won't find it here.
- Salads and one pasta dish for vegetarians.
Ditka's - The Mood
Ditka's is one of a a small chain of restaurants associated with Mike Ditka, known mostly for his association as a player and coach with "Da Bears" (the Chicago Bears NFL football franchise). It's an upscale steak and seafood place with pleasant, modern decor. High ceilings and lots of space are always a plus for me.
Unlike the other Gila River Casinos football-related restaurant at Wild Horse Pass -- Shula's -- this one is not overwhelming with football decor, with the exception of overly large painting of Mike Ditka tending bar for a bunch of people, whom I assume are football players. I only recognized Walter Payton in the foreground. If you are not an Bears fan, you can always position yourself with your back to the painting! Likewise, one wall of the restaurant looks out onto the gaming floor. You can choose to people watch while you dine, or totally ignore the passersby and slot machines. It's up to you.
Ditka's has a private dining room with an open kitchen view, where your dining guests can interact with the Chefs. There is a popular and attractive bar at the restaurant entrance with several TVs, showing sports, of course. There is no separate bar menu.
There seemed to be a very high ratio of staff to patrons on the evening we dined. Resort casual attire is appropriate here, although you'll see typical casino attire, too.
Ditka's - The Damages
Two of us had dinner on a Friday evening before a concert at the Event Center: we ordered one salad, one cup of soup, two entrees, two sides, a steak enhancement (almost as large as a side) and one dessert to share. the total, not including beverages, tax and tip, came to about $115, or $57.50 per person.
The menu at Ditka's will indicate if there are any vegetables or carbs (potatoes or pasta) served with the meat. There are several Shareable Sides on the menu, enough for two or three people. The next time I go to Ditka's (and yes, there will be a next time!) I will ask my server if anything comes with my entree, since I ordered one of the signatures beef items and it came with mushrooms, although that wasn't stated on the menu.
What I thought of Dinner at Ditka's
The menu at Ditka's offers enough choices for both seafood and meat lovers, but is not overwhelming. Once you've decided on beef vs. seafood, you'll have seven or eight choices in your preferred category. There are also a few pasta dishes, chicken, ribs and a burger. You don't have to spend $50 or more to eat here, but my guess is that many people do. Entrees range in price from $12 (burger) to a Prime Chop, aged 42 days, for $66.
We ordered one cup of Crab Bisque ($5.50) and one Wedge Salad ($6.95). The soup was very good. The Wedge came as advertised, but without bacon it seemed incomplete to me. Bring back the bacon! For our entrees we ordered one of the two Coach's Combos, the Twin Filet and Crab Medallions ($37) and the 12 oz. Prime Rib ($28.25). I loved the combo, with a full 8 oz. of filet and two large delicious crab cakes (sans deep fried breading, thank you). We added a mushroom enhancement ($4). The combo dish beautifully resolved that common dilemma of whether to order meat or seafood. The other available combo matches Filet with Scampi. The Prime Rib was lean with just the perfect small amount of fat along the edge to trim. It was flavorful and tender. Both entrees were winners.
We order two sides to share. I'm a sucker for anything with lobster, so the Lobster Mac & Cheese ($17) was my first choice, followed by an order of creamed spinach ($7.25) to make it seem like I was eating something akin to a vegetable. I didn't find wither of these anything to shout about; aside from the chunks of lobster I thought the mac & cheese was rather bland. I had the same impression of the creamed spinach. Not bad, just not extraordinary. If I had it to do all over again, I'd order the Pot Roast Nachos appetizer instead of the Lobster Mac & Cheese. I hear great things about those nachos!
To close, we shared the Ditka's signature dessert: Mike's Ice Cream Pie ($9.25). Certainly enough for two people, it was a decadent combination of ice cream (although I don't believe it was chocolate and vanilla as stated on the menu), caramel, chocolate candy and nuts in an Oreo cookie crust. It was delicious, but maybe too hard frozen to eat without challenge. There are several other deliciously described desserts on the menu, if you'd rather opt for cake, pie or creme brulee.
Ditka's is open for dinner only, seven days per week. When there is a concert at the Event Center, make sure you have a reservation. If you are going to the show, assume it will be very busy and leave extra time so you enjoy your meal without being rushed.
How to Find Ditka's
15091 S. Komatke Lane
Laveen, AZ 85339
Unless you go to this hotel/casino, there is no reason for most people to ever just drive by this area, and you can't see the restaurant from the main road. Here is a map with directions.