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

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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Captain Andy’s Parasail on the Mississippi

Captain Andy’s Parasail on the Mississippi

Temperatures were still warm, but autumn winds were beginning to blow. In many Midwest cities mid-October is late for parasailing. However, in Grafton, Illinois, 15 miles upriver from Alton, warmer weather hangs on a little longer. So when on my October visit I had the chance to go on the only parasailing adventure on the Mississippi River with Captain Andy’s Parasail, of course, I accepted. Read more

My Just Desserts, Alton IL: A Little Slice of Heaven

My Just Desserts, Alton IL:  A Little Slice of Heaven

National Pie Day is behind us for another year, but who needs a special day to eat pie?   My Just Desserts in Alton, Illinois, offers nine to thirteen different kinds of pies every day.

Ann Badasch started out selling antiques back when Alton boasted six blocks of antique shops.  As the antiques business began declining about 25 years ago, Ann switched gears, opened My Just Desserts, and has been serving customers a little slice of heaven ever since.

store_frontThe atmosphere of an antique store still exists in the restaurant, located in a building over 160 years old, with creaking hardwood floors, quilts for sale hanging on the walls, vintage mismatched tables and chairs, beverages served in Mason jars.

InsideThe food, though, is what people come for.  My Just Desserts is open for lunch seven days a week, serving soups, salads and sandwiches.  The half-pound Chicken Salad sandwich is so popular that the kitchen workers debone about 100 chickens a week, all done by hand.

With few exceptions, like the Chicken Salad and Tollhouse Brownies, the menu changes every day.  Ann’s 150 pie recipes are rotated weekly, so with nine to thirteen varieties offered at a time, you’ll be surprised with new pie selections with every visit.   I chose Lemon Truffle and enjoyed the tang of lemon offset by sweet creaminess and a light flaky crust.  Among the other pies available the day I was there were Caramel Apple, Radically Cherry, and Peaches and Cream.  Where does Ann get all of her recipes?  “Customers,” said Ann.  “I exchange a lot of pie recipes with my customers.”

Because of the constantly changing menu, there are no printed menus.  Instead, the day’s offerings are written on chalkboards throughout the restaurant.  When a dish or a pie is gone, it is erased from the boards.  A tip that was given to me:  Order your pie when you order your meal to avoid disappointment if the pie your taste buds were set on is erased from the board before you finish your lunch.

My Just Desserts, located at 31 E Broadway, Alton IL, is open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Check the web site’s Events section for special events like “Dinner with Mr. Lincoln’s Friends,” a four course meal from “Lincoln’s Table” to celebrate Abe Lincoln’s birthday, with entertainment provided by Alton Little Theater Costumed Actors.

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Robert Wadlow, World’s Tallest Man

Robert Wadlow, World’s Tallest Man

At 8’11.1″, Robert Wadlow was the tallest man who ever lived, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.  At birth he weighed a normal eight pounds, but due to a pituitary gland disorder, he grew quickly.  By the time he was eight years old, he was over six feet tall. Read more

Alton Hauntings Walking Ghost Tour: I Smelled the Jasmine

Alton Hauntings Walking Ghost Tour: I Smelled the Jasmine

“There won’t be someone chasing you with a chain saw on this tour.  This is the real deal,” said Len Adams, head tour guide for Alton Hauntings Tours, during his pre-tour talk.  Read more