Tuesday, August 9, 2011

fitz's root beer

One of the regular stops on my bi-annual trips to St. Louis is Fitz's American Grill and Bottling Plant. A restaurant and bottling plant in one, Fitz's is a great place to get a burger, fried pickles and of course, unlimited frosty mugs of their made-on-site root beer or cream soda.

I have been there more times than I can remember. The last time I was in St. Louis, though, we skipped the stop to Fitz's because we weren't willing to wait the 45 or so minutes it would take to get a table (so we went across the street to Blueberry Hill...and what did we get to drink? Fitz's.)

Fitz's is pretty tough to find outside of the Midwest. One time, many years ago (it may have been 5 or 6) Michael and I found Fitz's in a Japanese deli in the East Village. After that one spotting, we couldn't find Fitz's anywhere in NYC for years! It was like searching for Sasquatch.

Just recently, Murray's Cheese started carrying Fitz's. On a particularly hot night a few weeks ago, I called Michael and told him I was making a pit stop at Murray's, and did he want a Fitz's. He was amazed that I had found it again! Of course, I had to buy a bottle.

Fitz's doesn't mess around with glitz on their bottle cap. It's plain, functional, and gets the job done.  They call their beverages "premium" and I have to agree.

Michael also wanted to say a few words about his local root beer brew:

I went to college in St. Louis and lived blocks away from Fitz's. I took the restaurant for granted then -- it was just a place that bottled their own root beer literally right next to your table. I'd grown up with mass-produced root beers (A&W, Barqs, Mug) and Fitz's tasted a bit too spicy for me. There's a distinctive bite that lingers in the mouth for a moment afterward. And did I mention that in the upstairs part of the restaurant, there's an Elvis pinball machine? It's only now that I realize I was fool not to go to Fitz's for drinks more often. (I was, sad to say, rather enamored with two inferior restaurants on the same block: a predecessor to Chipotle, and a seedy Italian place that served all-you-can-eat spaghetti every Tuesday.) Now, there's a Chuck Berry statue right outside Fitz's and, invariably, a long wait. It seems that I still had much to learn in college.

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