I notice that my eating habits take a subtle turn around this time of year. One week it's bison stew and baked potatoes, the next I'm raiding the recipes from The Greens and stuffing feta and cucumbers into whole wheat pita halves. Last weekend my mother and I went out past Old Town to drop into the filled-to-the-gills Aquarium and Botanic Gardens (OMG!!! Baby Sharks!! LOL).
The wafting smells of french fry oil weren't enough to lure us into testing the waters with the Biopark food counters, but on the way back on Central we popped into the Rt. 66 Malt Shop
. Their menu prices are as near to throw-back as you'll get these days. Egg creams and phosphates are $2 and classic diner fare like burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches fill out the menu.
My mother appreciated the substantial bun on her veggie burger while I tucked into a large frito pie that was onion-y, crunchy and slightly red chile-y. I couldn't finish the whole pie...which was just as well since I had to make room for the most important thing: a root beer float.
I love a good root beer. Forget A&W. Forget Barqs. Il Vicino has a lovely home brew root beer. That oddly named Way 2 Cool brew from Santa Fe that pops up at La Montanita on occasion is pretty good, too. And the homemade small batch root beer at Rt. 66 is Fine, Fine, Fine (say those words slow and with a capital "f"). Root beer aficionado Luke Cole
has named the malt shop's brew as one of the very best in America. I like it because it's not overly sweet - a perfect accompaniment to some generous scoops of vanilla ice cream.
I like Route 66. I like diners. I like root beer. I like them all together in one place. Next time I get the ol' DeSoto cranked up, I'll have to park it outside of the Route 66 Malt Shop while I drop in at the soda counter.