Photos by Evie Carpenter
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Many people talk about the “good ol’ days” when families gathered around black and white TV sets or danced to the music of Elvis Presley. Now, those days are long gone, but at MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain, it is like stepping back in time.
This vintage 1950s-style restaurant located at Seventh and Oak Streets was originally a drug store, but now houses MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain and a thrift store. Oldies music played overhead as families and friends filled the booths or sat at the original drugstore countertop. I sat with my friend at one of the wooden booths decorated with a small jukebox, old-time lights and trinkets.
There were two different menus on the table, one for the different soda-fountain creations and the other for food options. Milkshakes and soda-fountain options were first on the agenda. With more than 75 flavors, customers can create a combination or choose from one of the ones already created. There are options like the James Dean — wild cherry phosphate and vanilla ice cream — or The Pregnant Moment — dill pickle soda and vanilla ice cream. It was difficult for my friend to choose one flavor, but Breakfast at Tiffany’s caught her eye. It was a blue-raspberry and wedding-cake flavor with vanilla ice cream. I chose a classic chocolate milkshake and we both ordered homemade lemonades.
The food was more basic than the colorful soda-fountain concoctions. The options included sandwiches, soups and salads. My friend and I decided on the chicken salad sandwich with cream of spinach soup and a pastrami Reuben with Hungarian black bean soup.
The food arrived in less than five minutes. The chicken salad sandwich on 12-grain bread was simple with mayo, onions and celery topped with lettuce and tomatoes. The bread was soft and the chicken salad moist with a nice crunch. I grew up on chicken salad and was not disappointed by MacAlpine’s version.
Next was the cream of spinach soup and the main description was creamy. It lacked a distinguishing flavor, but my friend’s soup, the Hungarian black bean was the opposite. It was similar to a hearty vegetable soup with black beans, carrots, potatoes and meat. The ingredients stood out but never overpowered the other flavors. On a cold winter day or a sick day, that soup would be perfect.
The pastrami Rueben was the best. Salty, warm pastrami covered in melted cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island sauce on rye bread. The pastrami was one of the best I have had, and I highly recommend this savory sandwich.
Now to the main attractions: the homemade lemonades, chocolate milkshake and Breakfast at Tiffany’s ice-cream float. Sipping the lemonade brought back memories of cul-de-sac children selling lemonade for 75 cents. Sweet, tart and refreshing – the best drink to have on a hot Phoenix day.
Next was the chocolate milkshake. Made in an old-fashioned milkshake machine, it arrived to the table topped with whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry. An extra metal container of milkshake came too. It was thick and creamy, the right consistency to barely slurp it through a straw. Then I tried the creation named after the beloved classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Bright blue soda topped with two scoops of vanilla ice cream and an extra side of blue raspberry and wedding cake soda syrup. The blue raspberry flavor dominated the sugary soda float, but it was fun to look at. My friend said she felt as if she was five again, drinking this colorful treat.
MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain reminds me of a place to go on a hot summer day or after a baseball game. The food is good and average priced for a diner, with most items less than $10. However, the main attraction is the ambiance and the soda fountain creations. It is a wholesome restaurant and provides a great place for families or friends wanting to grab a milkshake or quick bite to eat. I would go again to try another soda fountain special and maybe feel like a kid again.
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