Thursday, December 3, 2015

Damn Fine Root Beer Road Trip, Part 1: Triple XXX Drive-In

Behold: The largest lit Plexiglas sign in the Western United States (for reals).

(Issaquah, September 2015)

So the Missus and I were ostensibly in the Seattle area for a wedding, but as you may have already gathered from my previous 2 posts, I had ulterior motives (well, I did want to go to the wedding, too. ...honest...).  Having missed earlier opportunities to ostensibly visit family in Lafayette, IN, home of one of the last 2 remaining Triple XXX establishments, we made sure to take a drive through the (fantastic, big, majestic) woods (Douglas firs, Diane) to find the other one – which just so happens to be the only one that still has the traditional root beer barrel storefront. 

The first Triple XXX Drive-In in the Pacific Northwest actually opened further southwest in 1930, but was demolished to make way for a car dealership.  Its current home in Issaquah was built in 1968, and had traditional car-hop service until 1996, when the drive-up portion was demolished to make way for an office building.  Thankfully, the restaurant portion still remains, and its current owners – the Jose Enciso family – don’t seem to want to remove anything else to make way for anything else (source).

…and perhaps have a serious case of horror vacui…
Evidently we were seated in the Elvis corner.
A fountain barrel from days gone by – with separate spigots for syrup and soda.
Triple the X, double the root beer, Porta the Pooj.
These days, the Encisos get their root beer syrup from the Coca-Cola Company, but I’m not entirely sure whether it’s Triple XXX syrup or just Barq’s.  I’m inclined to think the former, given that it has a more licorice-heavy flavor than Barq’s typically has.  On the whole, it has a sarsaparilla-like taste, though less vegetal, and not much of an aftertaste (although it’s a little hard to distinguish much past the lingering smell of hot grease – not a bad thing, per se, but it does dull the senses a bit).  Texture is on the thinner side as well, so it’s hard to tell whether its made with sugar or HFCS.

At the end of the day, I have no complaints (just a very full stomach).  I think I still like the bottled Triple XXX better (and I really should still try the IN version at some point for comparison), but I’m nevertheless enjoying the whole experience here.  Triple XXX Drive-In gets a low 4.

...and bonus points for commitment to the theme, even down to the picnic tables