By Heather Hoch
By Eric Schaefer
By New Times
By Rachel Miller
By Eric Schaefer
By Heather Hoch and Lauren Saria
By Robrt L. Pela
By Heather Hoch
Pasta is somewhat less entrancing. Spaghetti comes with four meatballs so rubbery that even my kids gave up. They were also suspicious of the too-sweet tomato sauce. The smallish sub sandwiches certainly won't remind you of what you used to get in the old neighborhood. But the various meats coated with melted cheese should tamp down young hunger pangs until the organ concert starts up again.
The salad bar is a wise, adult-friendly alternative. Don't look for anything out of the ordinary in the tubs--there's nothing here but the usual suspects. But it serves more than a nutritional purpose. Since you're only allowed one trip through the line, you can entertain yourself watching folks attempting to arrange huge, architecturally precarious piles of greenery and fixings on their plates, and trying to make their way back to their tables before the edifices collapse.
Mom and dad can linger over a pitcher of beer or glass of wine, while the kids can be bought off with ice cream cones, sundaes and shakes.
Organ Stop Pizza is as corny as Kansas in August, and just about as wholesome. If you're searching for family values, your search has ended.
MacAlpine's Soda Fountain and Espresso Bar, 2303 North Seventh Street, Phoenix, 252-7282. Hours: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Lunch, Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
MacAlpine's is just the kind of place where Archie, Jughead and the gang would have hung out, if they had lived in Phoenix. Heck, it's where the gang's parents would have hung out when they were kids.
This neighborhood landmark has been around since 1928. For most of those years, it operated as a mom-and-pop pharmacy, complete with a Formica-topped lunch counter. Then, a few years ago, new owners took over and redesigned the place as a nostalgia-themed drugstore soda fountain. They've done a great job.
Step into MacAlpine's, and you enter a lost world: a time when waitresses could call you "Hon" without fearing a sexual-harassment suit; when you could get two plays for a quarter out of the jukebox; and when the kitchen could automatically assume you wanted your sandwich smeared with mayo.
The Norman Rockwell setting is wonderfully evocative of simpler days. Nestle in one of the dark-wood booths, armed with old-fashioned coat-and-hat trees. Check out MacAlpine's tubs of jelly beans, vintage phone booth and antique Coke, Pepsi and Prince Albert tobacco signs. The antique jukebox is filled with antique 45s. If you haven't heard the "Bunny Hop" and "Chattanooga Choo Choo" in a while, you can make up for lost time.
Sitting at the counter is also fun. How many of today's kids know the joys of enjoying a frosty milk shake while swiveling 'round and 'round on a counter stool?
The menu and prices are rooted as firmly in the past as the decor. Think basic, very basic: sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, soup, chili, ice cream cones, shakes, cakes and pies. Somehow, it all tastes better here. And it doesn't hurt that you'll get change back from a five.
MacAlpine's charm comes from more than its looks. This is a working restaurant, and somebody in the kitchen actually does some cooking. One day's soup special, a homemade vegetable beef, was exceptionally tasty and hearty. "Look at the big honking pieces of meat," exclaimed my kid, as she polished off a bowl. Friday's creamy clam chowder was equally worthy.
The thick bowl of chili, which can be fleshed out with cheese and onion for two bits, brings several hours' worth of sustenance. The homemade egg salad in the egg salad sandwich resembles what you'd make yourself, if you could get yourself to use mayonnaise with abandon. The BLT, ham and cheese and tuna fish offer uncomplicated sandwich pleasure. So did a sandwich special featuring turkey and avocado. And the burger also gets high marks, two juicy patties loaded up with lettuce, tomato and onion.
Put another quarter in the jukebox and stick around for dessert. The homemade chocolate-pecan pie is a knockout, as good as it gets, and the coconut-cream pie isn't far behind. The kids will want to dig into an ice cream soda. Still reluctant to leave? Take advantage of MacAlpine's one concession to modernity, an espresso bar. The cappuccino is first-rate.
To the decor and food mix, add a friendly staff who remembers faces and serves with old-time style and good cheer. MacAlpine's is one place where the kids won't complain that you're living in the past.
Organ Stop Pizza:
Cheese pizza (large)
Ice cream (double scoop)
MacAlpine's Soda Fountain and Espresso Bar:
Egg salad sandwich