Tourist trap implies something less than awesome. This is not a trap! It’s Americana. Alf’s Ice Cream and Burgers in McMinnville is a tourist draw for sure, but it delivers on its promise.
Its promise is, specifically, burgers, ice cream and monkey.
I dropped in for lunch a few days ago. What’s good? I asked Stephanie behind the counter.
She ran through the options, telling me which burgers were most popular. She had me at western bacon cheeseburger — that means it comes topped with an onion ring and barbecue sauce — with a small order of fries and a small diet Pepsi. Yes, I said diet. What of it?
Alf’s has a Pepsi fountain, but a Coke fan can buy by the bottle.
It was a delicious burger. It was big, too — the kind of meal that presents a challenge. Definitely worth its $6.58 price tag. Alf’s has a half-pound burger on the menu. That sucker must look like Everest sitting on a table in front of you.
If you’re a teenage boy, training for a marathon or planning to only eat one meal all day or something, add a scoop of ice cream for dessert. I am none of the above, but in the interest of serving you, dear readers, I had a scoop of homemade hazelnut ice cream for $2.49. Additional scoops are $1.99 each. Trust me, you’ll only need one.
“My scoops are very big,” Stephanie told me. She wasn’t kidding.
Yes, Alf’s has a monkey. Not on the menu, silly. He’s a wee little capuchin monkey called Elvis. He lives in big room with a window facing the street and a window facing the dining room. He spends his days playing with toys, snuggling up in a blanket and offering friendly waves to curious children who stop by to ogle him.
Elvis is interesting, to be sure, but he’s just the garnish in this cocktail of quirk. The burgers are tasty and the homemade ice cream is downright impressive. There’s a 1950s diner vibe. The décor isn’t precious and canned, with a chain restaurant’s kitschy vibe. There’s just a lot of cool stuff lining the walls and counters and blanketing the little yard around the building. Sheb Wooley’s “Purple People Eater” was playing on the radio while I was waiting for my lunch. No kidding.
Check it out. Soak up the ambience. Make a special trip — you won’t be the only one. Stephanie told me that people come to Alf’s from all over. Surely business got a boost from being featured in Roadside America.
A lot of those visitors are regulars. Stephanie says besides hungry locals and travelers on their way to or from the coast, there’s a guy who drives in weekly from Wilsonville just for the ice cream. Regular customers who have left the area always come back for a visit.