Apr 23, 2024 - News

Travel back in time for lunch at MacAlpine's

An ice cream soda and a plate with a burger and fries in front of a tabletop jukebox.

Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

When I walked into MacAlpine's Diner and Soda Fountain last week for the first time, it felt as though I'd stepped into a time machine.

Why it matters: MacAlpine's is a local institution that opened in 1929, and is trying to get back on its feet again several years after owner Monica Heizenrader closed the restaurant's doors during the pandemic.

  • After months of raising money, MacAlpine's is open again on a part-time basis, serving lunch Fridays through Sundays.
  • I've lived in Phoenix most of my life and I love my city's history, but somehow I'd never been to MacAlpine's.

The big picture: From the old-timey Coca-Cola signs to the jukeboxes on the tables to oldies like "(Who Wrote) The Book of Love?" playing on the speakers, the ambiance and sense of living history is part of the restaurant's charm.

What I ordered: For now, MacAlpine's is offering a limited menu, with plans to expand down the road.

  • I ordered the pulled pork sandwich with fries.
  • To complete the experience, I couldn't resist an ice cream soda. I ordered the James Dean, which is wild cherry phosphate over vanilla ice cream.

The verdict: It was a great lunch. MacAlpine's tangy barbecue sauce went great with the pork, and the crispy fries were delicious too.

  • I hadn't had an ice cream soda in years, and it was as good as I remember.

What's next: As much as I enjoyed the soda, I would've gotten some pie for dessert if I'd known the story Heizenrader told me after my meal.

  • An Amish woman from Indiana once spent a month teaching the MacAlpine's team how to make pies like hers, with great crusts.
  • Their most popular is pecan with salted caramel topping.
  • Between the incredible-looking pie and the new items Heizenrader plans to add to the menu — next up are Reuben and club sandwiches — I'll be back soon.
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