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Back to the Root

With soda fountains and lunch counters in steady decline since the mid-’60s, it’s gotten harder to find sweet, small batches of root beer. Luckily, the rise of craft breweries has resulted in a surge of our favorite soda. We don’t encourage you to buy it in bulk (see last month’s feature on the American sugar epidemic) but we do, however, endorse the occasional treat. We did the tasting for you and put together a list of places around town where you can find handmade, homemade and craft root beer worth splurging on.

The basics: Check out the ’50s-style drive-in for a taste of their famous homemade root beer and menu featuring a variety of southern favorites, including shrimp and fish baskets.
Price: Sip on a small glass for $1.84 or grab a gallon for only $6.50. Take advantage of $1 refills of this daily made brew.
Where: 9785 Ferguson Road, Dallas, 214/327-9983 dairyette.com

Del’s Charcoal Burgers
The basics: At this family owned and operated joint, the root beer is always home-brewed and served in a frosted mug. You didn’t hear it from us, but apparently they have fried Twinkies.
Price: One serving will cost you $1.30 plus tax. Enjoy 50-cent refills while you’re there.
Where: 110 S. McKinney St., Richardson, 972/235-9191
Maple & Motor
The basics: As seen on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives, this joint serves St. Arnold Root Beer on draft. Pair your brew with a burger and don’t leave before you try a bite of their famous fried baloney sandwich, served “Cincinnati” or “Cowboy” style.
Price: $2.65 per glass
Where: 4810 Maple Ave., Dallas, 214/522-4400
What’s da Scoop? Food Truck
The basics: Ask for a float made with Dr. Brown’s kosher root beer, cream soda or black cherry cola and a scoop of old-fashioned ice cream. The hardest part is choosing a flavor. We recommend the Kitty Kitty Bang Bang (think: cheesecake, raspberries and Oreos).
Price: $5
Where: You can usually find What’s da Scoop? near Klyde Warren Park, but check the GPS locator on their website or follow them on Facebook and Twitter for their exact location. whatsdascoop.com

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse
The basics: A glass of this restaurant’s old-fashioned root beer recipe is included with a kids meal or can be bought individually. Other homemade flavors include orange, cherry and cream soda.
Price: $3.25 per glass. Take a growler home for only $9.95 ($7.95 for refills). Details vary per location.
Where: Multiple locations; bjsrestaurants.com

Shaw’s Patio Bar & Grill
The basics: Stop by for an ice-cold mug of Louisiana’s Abita Root Beer on draft or choose from several specialty root beers in a bottle, including a diet option.
Price: $3.79 on tap, with one free refill. $2.69 in a bottle.
Where: 1051 W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth, 871/926-2116; shawspatio.com
Spiral Diner & Bakery
The basics: Visit this 100-percent vegan restaurant and try the Maine Root Root Beer on tap. The caffeine-free brew is made with fair-trade, certified-organic sugar. You can also snag a bottle of all-natural Virgil’s Root Beer in the bottle.
Price: $2.71 on tap, refills included. $1.89 in a bottle.
Where: 1314 W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth, 817/332-8834; spiraldiner.com
Twisted Root
The basics: Gulp down a cup of their homemade root beer or ask about the rotating “twisted flavors” on tap, including watermelon and butterscotch. Want to make it a float? Forget the ice cream and ask for a scoop of creamy custard.
Price: $2.22, refills included. $3.99 for a float.
Where: Multiple locations; twistedrootburgerco.com

Bayou Market
The basics: This Cajun restaurant serves Louisiana favorite Abita Root Beer by the bottle. Save room for a po’boy sandwich, gumbo or crawfish etouffee.
Price: $2 plus tax.
Where: 101 E. Southwest Parkway, Lewisville, 972/434-8500; thebayoumarket.com
Jakes Uptown
The basics: Stop by this beloved burger joint for Houston’s own St. Arnold’s Root Beer, packaged in a bottle and served in a mug. Don’t forget to ask about their rotating burger of the month.
Price: $2.75 plus tax.
Where: 520 S. Main St., Suite 201, Grapevine, 817/564-0048; jakesuptown.com
Mr. Frosty
The basics: Cool off at this family-owned restaurant with a chilled mug of their 60-year-old secret recipe. Pair your soda with classic American fare from a retro-style menu.
Price: Servings start at $1.29 and vary by size.
Where: 1002 Fort Worth Drive, Denton, 940/387-5449

Published April 2015