Quick Eats: MacAlpine Restaurant in Phoenix
Odometer (Legend): 532,536
Odometer (ILX): 112,778
Let’s shift gears today (literally and figuratively) but keep our road trip right here in town. Sometimes we are so busy looking for out-of-town travel opportunities that we forget to look for those hidden gems in our own backyards.
Back in 1929, a small pharmacy opened up on 7th Street in Phoenix, Arizona. Technically, though, in those days even 7th Street (which today is about as “Central Phoenix” as it gets) was outside city limits. Some 86 years later, that same location lives in a sort of time warp as a soda fountain that pays tribute to the olden days.
My friend Kevin and I are always on the hunt for unique dining opportunities, so when we were planning a catch-up meal (or ketchup meal?) we decided to check out a place that I’d passed by dozens of times but never visited: MacAlpine’s. It took me about 35 minutes in rush hour traffic to get from my place in Scottsdale to the small brick building at the northeast corner of 7th & Oak Streets. I found suitable ILX parking (read: door-ding-friendly) along the south side and had about 20 minutes to kill until Kevin arrived.
That worked out perfectly, since MacAlpine is joined with an antique store and there is a lot of “stuff” to browse. I played around with a vintage TV set and record player, then thumbed through a 1958 issue of Arizona Highways magazine. There were at least a dozen sets of antique patio furniture sitting on the sidewalk outside, so I also spent a few minutes out front watching the sun go down and the cars whiz by at 50 miles per hour on the busy 5-lane road. Surely if I had been on that same front porch in 1929, the scene would have been quite different.
Kevin arrived and we seated ourselves in a booth and got comfortable. The stools and bar date back to 1938 when the original pharmacy was first turned into a soda fountain by Fred MacAlpine. Bonus points if you can find me in the reflection in this picture!
A jukebox nearby sang songs from the 40’s and 50’s while we took a minute to make our menu selections. The menu itself was a little daunting – hundreds of flavors to choose from in creating a “custom” soda. I ordered a lime, lemon, raspberry concoction of some sort on ice. It was straight sugar but totally delicious. For the main course, the meatloaf called my name. It didn’t take very long until it came out of the kitchen piping hot with a side of mashed potatoes and steamed carrots. I give it an A+ rating – highly recommended. Dinner is served starting at 5 p.m. and the restaurant closes at 7, so the window is short but the rewards are worth it.
My favorite item on the menu – and one that I’m determined to go back and consume – is called “The Legend.” It’s a 10-pound ice cream sundae that sells for about $100. Can you imagine? It should be free to anyone who can finish it in one sitting. For anyone visiting the Phoenix area, take the time to swing by and try out the patio furniture and the sodas. You won’t regret it. Here are a few pictures from our short trip back in time.
Arrival heading northbound on 7th Street
Vintage sign remains
Building as seen from across 7th Street
Some of the bric-a-brac for sale. I love that word because it’s fun to say.
Ice cream flavors of the day. Sadly – I did not have the appetite after that soda & meatloaf!
Dining area. It looks like a lot of clutter, because it is.
Candyyyyy. I almost picked up a box of candy cigarettes for a friend of mine.
Is this the Brady Bunch set? Nope, just furniture for sale at the antique store next to MacAlpine’s.
Classic AZ Highways!
Check out that meatloaf!
2303 North 7th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85006
(602) 262 – 5545
Last note: For those who were following it, the newly-redesigned 2016 ILX went on sale yesterday. Here’s a great write-up by my buddy Steve Siler from Road & Track. Will I be upgrading mine? Nah, unless the stick-shift transmission option comes back. But still – looks like a sweet ride.