Treat yourself right

June 29, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

On hot days, reach for the coolest treats Issaquah has to offer

Judy Sanchez, Gina Fernandez and Mari McCann (from left) serve up a famous Triple XXX super-sized root beer float. By Greg Farrar

Summer, glorious summer, means fat ice cream bars at Boehm’s Candies, enough Triple XXX Root Beer to float a battleship and ample pints at the Issaquah Brewhouse.

Summertime makes for a great excuse to sample quintessential delights from the classic Issaquah joints. Bonus: On blistering days, the treats offer respite from the heat.

Forget the drizzle and damp. Forget calorie counts. Indulge in something cool — and a little nostalgic. Hey, it’s summer.

Float on

Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in stands as a monument to the era before interstates and drive-thrus. Behind the barrel-shaped façade, the Enciso family serves big burgers portioned for Fred Flintstone, canoe-sized sundaes and enough flavors of shakes to put Baskin-Robbins to shame.

The titular attraction reigns supreme: root beer served in a frosted mug as big as a medieval tankard. Upgrade to a root-beer float and the potion comes crowned with whipped cream and a scoop of vanilla ice cream as big as a baseball.

“There’s nothing else like it out there, anywhere,” Jose Enciso Jr. said.

The throwback restaurant — crammed with old-school road signs and countless license plates — specializes in a signature brew. The root beer eschews the syrupy sweetness found in the plastic bottles lining supermarket shelves and has just enough bite. The drive-in uses the same root beer recipe concocted in the 1930s. In those days, the chain stretched from coast to coast. Only the Issaquah outpost and a West Lafayette, Ind., restaurant remain.

Besides the formula, Enciso said the frosted mugs set the soda and float apart. The slushy layer on the outside of the glass keeps the root beer cooler than The Fonz. Diners slurped down more than 3,000 gallons of the frothy drink last year.

Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in

98 N.E. Gilman Blvd.


Bottoms up

Not all of the summertime treats in Issaquah cater to the sweet tooth. Duck inside the brewhouse for a pint — a grown-up indulgence made for noontime on a sweltering day.

The on-site brewery churns out four brews: a potent Belgian-style tripel ale, the spice-and-citrus-inflected White Frog Ale and a pair of — no pun intended — hoppy IPAs. The complex White Frog Ale and Belgian-style tripel pair well with spicy foods, as well as steamy afternoons.

Inside the brewhouse, expect a no-frills atmosphere and plenty of cold brewskis served in pint glasses festooned with the same fanciful logos as bottles of Rogue Ales. Pair ’em with a Kobe beef burger or a haute — yes, haute — dog, modestly billed as “the world’s greatest dog.”

The downtown brewhouse opened in 1994; Rogue Ales snapped up the pub a decade ago. Nowadays, the brewhouse hosts countless community events and group meetings. But the pub also provides a much-needed place to cool off on sticky days.

Other libations beckon from behind the bar. Order a martini crafted from Rogue Spruce Gin, a piney fresh spirit made from 14 ingredients, including the titular spruce.

Of course, for the teetotalers, the brewhouse also offers draft root beer.

Issaquah Brewhouse

35 West Sunset Way


Bar none

Peer inside the glass cases at Boehm’s Candies — populated by chocolates arranged in neat rows — tempting, yes, but nothing to soothe on a hot day. Near the freezer, a sign promises the same chocolate-dipped ice cream bars familiar to Salmon Days Festival visitors.

Everyone knows about the handcrafted turtles and cream-filled chocolates, but the Issaquah icon also applies the same techniques to a treat tailored for summer. Reach for the Boehm’s Bar on the hot days likely to turn the candies nestled inside gold boxes into tiny, chocolate pools.

Owner Bernard Garbusjuk said the candy maker started making the frozen confection more than 20 years ago for summertime festivals. Nowadays, the company also sells the bars from a Salmon Days booth.

The desserts start as high-butterfat ice cream bars from a California dairy. Just before serving, the vanilla bricks get dunked into molten chocolate and then rolled in golden bits of almonds and toffee. Garbusjuk uses a darker chocolate to offset the rich ice cream.

Dig in ASAP for a bit of still-warm chocolate, ice cream and accoutrements in the first bite — for a simultaneously creamy-crunchy effect.

Better not attempt to eat the assembly behind the wheel. Linger instead on the grounds, and explore the Alpine chalet and chapel set amid evergreens and fountains.

Boehm’s Candies

255 N.E. Gilman Blvd.


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