SOUTH PORTLAND — It was 2:30 p.m. on a Saturday and A & C Soda Shop on Cottage Road was pretty busy, filled with grownups and kids munching on burgers and sipping shakes.

Since the place had recently opened in my neighborhood, I was happy to see it thriving. When I looked at the menu, I saw the casual eatery really did offer something for everyone.

The family appeal starts with a simple, nostalgic all-American menu of burgers and fries, shakes and floats. It’s comfort food for both kids and adults. But the colorful interior of the place also has a long bar and a menu of creative cocktails, plus some very interesting “boozy” shakes, where alcohol is mixed in with the ice cream. So it’s a place where adults can hang out with friends and have a drink, and bring the kids, too.

A & C Soda Shop opened full-time since December, in a building that housed Terra Cotta Pasta Co. before that business moved to its current location a block or two up Cottage Road a few years ago.  The soda shop is the latest incarnation of the former A & C Grocery on Washington Avenue in Portland, which closed in 2021.

I had stopped into A & C Soda Shop on that Saturday afternoon just to pick up a menu, since there wasn’t one online. Later that day, I ordered takeout on the phone for my family. The menu included burgers, a fried chicken sandwich, a fried fish sandwich, fish and chips, and grilled cheese.

But we all decided to go for the specialty, the A & C cheeseburger ($15) with fries. The burger featured a huge patty, with a nice thick slab of American cheese, iceberg lettuce and “special sauce.” The latter tasted like it had some mayo, ketchup and other condiments. It was a very tasty burger and a lot of food.


We also had to try the shakes. My two kids had a chocolate shake ($7) which was thick and creamy. We adults – my wife and I – had the Key Lime Pie ($13), featuring vanilla ice cream, gin, elderflower liquor and lime juice. It was a really nice, sweet, tropical treat for a cold night in January. Other regular shakes on the menu are vanilla and strawberry, and the other “boozy” shakes listed were the Baby Godiva, with chocolate ice cream, chocolate liquor and vodka, and the Very Berry, with strawberry ice cream, cherry liquor and vodka.

A & C Soda Shop offers “boozy” shakes, like the key lime pie shake at left, and traditional shakes, like chocolate. Photo by Ray Routhier

There is also a list of cocktails with fanciful names like Disco Ball, Dr. Gonzo and Cobra Lightning. Being a soda shop, there’s an extensive and creative menu of ice cream floats ($7), including root beer, orange creamsicle, Coca-Cola, Moxie, the OMG (orange soda with chocolate ice cream) and Kier Royal (grape soda with vanilla ice cream.)

Before it housed Terra Cotta Pasta Co., the building had been a redemption center and a gas station, so there’s a big glass garage door in front. At night, you can see the inside of the place all lit up through the door. Inside, one half of the restaurant has orange walls, high-top tables and a large corner bar with a black-and-white checkerboard pattern. The other half has teal walls and low tables with comic strip motifs.

The interior is definitely an inviting place to dine in. But because A & C Soda Shop is located close to places like Willard Beach in South Portland and Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth, it would be a great place to grab a burger and a shake on the way to some seaside picnic spot.

The lit up interior of the new A & C Soda Shop in South Portland, seen through the building’s garage door. Photo by Ray Routhier

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