Fast Eddie’s, Alton IL: Good Food at Bargain Prices

I saw Fast Eddie’s Bon Air featured on TV when Food Network star Alton Brown stopped there on a motorcycle tour. Brown described it as a road house, a drinking establishment that offers cheap food, although roadhouses aren’t usually in town, and the food isn’t usually good. There’s the difference with Fast Eddie’s. It’s in downtown Alton, and the food is good.

Fast Eddies foodThe bar had been around as the Bon Air since 1921 when it was opened by Anheuser Busch and then sold ten years later when a law was passed prohibiting breweries from owning drinking establishments. It didn’t become Fast Eddie’s until 1981, and that’s when food was added. The menu isn’t big, only seven items: homemade brats, peel-and-eat shrimp, burgers, fries and three kinds of kebobs—Pork Kebob, Hot Chick on a Stick, and tenderloin and peppers called the Big Elwood on a Stick. However, people from all over the country have made a point of stopping there as they’ve passed through. A local told us of folks he knows who often drive 250 miles from Kansas City just to eat there.

Prices haven’t changed much since 1981. We found that the price for a burger had increased—not surprising with soaring beef prices—but still a big bargain with a half-pound burger only $1.99. Brats are only 99 cents, and shrimp 29 cents each. A generous basket of fries is $1.99.

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You won’t find fancy here. After all, it’s a bar, a bar that has quadrupled in size since it became Fast Eddie’s. We sat in the newer area, with a feel of the outdoors under a tent-type roof, heated and comfortable during our March visit.

Fast Eddies 1The original section is dimly lit, with lots of hanging signs, neon and televisions.

Fast Eddies inside

Walk up to the counter to order and pay for your food, then sit back and relax with a drink (drinks are ordered and served at your table), while you wait for your meal. Watch the digital counter; when the number reaches your number or higher, your food is ready for you to pick up, add your condiments and take back to your table to enjoy.

Fast Eddie’s, located at 1530 E. 4th Street, is popular with bikers traveling the Great River Road, but it’s popular with seniors, too, sometimes with busloads stopping for a meal. If you visit on a weekday, plan on a later lunch, as they don’t open until 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday (11 a.m. Friday through Sunday). You’re in luck if you’re a late-night person, since they’re open until 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday and until 2 a.m. on the weekends. Hear live music Wednesdays through Sundays.

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