A friend from work was the first to mention that we should visit Fitz’s Restaurant on the DelMar Loop. We don’t drink a lot of sodas, but the chance to taste some at the source was something we couldn’t pass up. Our lodging was set up at Moonrise Hotel, which is just down the street. It was an easy walk along the Loop to the front door of the restaurant. We made our way to the 1928 West End Bank building that now houses this iconic bottler. Along the way we made note of the Walk of Fame stars embedded in the sidewalk. We’ll share more about those later.
Upon arriving, we found a huge crowd waiting to be seated. Evidently, most were bigger groups, because we were seated immediately. Fitz’s Root Beer first appeared in St. Louis in the late 1940’s. It became a hit and flourished inside and out of the city. Even though it disappeared for a period, it’s rebirth in 1993 was a welcome sight. The operation is similar to a microbrewery, only for soda.
The seating is mainly tables, but there is a small counter with a handful of stools. The building also affords a second floor seating option, much to the chagrin of the wait staff. The place was buzzing during our visit. The noise level can be high, as groups are generally in a jovial mood. Keep a watchful eye on servers carrying large trays filled with the sweet libations and generous plates. We are used to being the only ones in the place using a camera to capture the moment, but not at Fitz’s. It seemed that lots of people wanted to capture a picture of their favorite soda flavor or one of the immense ice cream floats. (Sorry, but we didn’t have room for that after our meal.)
Our first choice had to be our soda flavors. Fitz’s offers 16 different choices, and we are betting they are all delicious. Sweetened with pure cane sugar, they reminded us of our youth when a bottle of soda was a special treat. (Yeah, we are getting old.) Crystal chose the Berry Pomegranate, which was absolutely refreshing. The sweetness of the berries added a nice accent to the tart pomegranate flavor. I was originally going to test out their flagship root beer. After perusing the menu, I landed on the Orange Cream. The flavor reminded me of the Dreamsicle bars we used to eat on hot summer days. It was hard keeping myself from drinking it all before my dinner arrived.
Our timing didn’t allow us to watch the bottling in action. The equipment is contained in a room that is view-able from the main dining area. The machines are from the mid-1900’s period, and are authentic bottling lines. Most of the time they bottle on Thursday through Saturday from 11:00 am until 8:00 pm. They have a schedule on their website, so you may wish to consult it before a visit. I’m guessing it would be an interesting sight, but we enjoyed people watching instead.
Getting Our Feed On
Our server showed up with our meals, after a short wait. Crystal had chosen the Smoked Turkey Reuben, which was a substantial sandwich. Imagine a Reuben where they substitute turkey and that is what you get. She seemed to enjoy it, but my bite left me wanting corned beef instead. I guess I’m just too old school. She ordered the Fitz’s Kitchen Sauce on the side and ended up using it to dip her fries.
I’m a lover of a little kick, so I ordered the Black and Bleu Burger. The patty is cooked with a Cajun blackening seasoning and topped with bleu cheese crumbles. A couple of onion rings are placed on top of this, and then served with the standard garnishes. While I was able to finish my meal, it came with a price. After leaving the restaurant the fullness hit me. It ended up being larger than I had gauged, but fortunately we were walking it off. In hind sight, we could have split a dish and left room for one of their signature Root Beer Floats. I guess we will have to keep this in mind for future visits.