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Galco's Soda Store

I'd seen this place on Food TV, and read about it here and elsewhere, but yesterday was my first actual in person visit. What a cool little treasure of a store.

Galco's Soda Pop Stop (5702 York Blvd, in Highland Park, (323) 255-7115, (http://www.sodapopstop.com/home.cfm), is essentially a small grocery store that is devoted to nothing but bottled and canned soda and beer. Every exotic beverage you have ever heard of, and many that you haven't, are on sale here. Aisle after aisle of small batch ginger ales, cherry lime concoctions, odd cola beverages, unusual diet sodas and other interesting brews are there for you to peruse. They have a good selection of chilled bottles, too, so you can try stuff on site, and one whole aisle is devoted to exotic bottled beers. (They carry Arrogant Bastard products, btw.) Got a chance to speak briefly with the owner, and he is a true believer. (Told us about how they had been able to resurrect, and now stock, some of the earliest, non-carbonated bottled sodas that had been sold in the US. during the 1920's and 30's.) Everything is available by the single bottle or in four or six packs, and they have hundreds of types of soda. We ended up spending $50 and coming away with almost two cases of interesting looking single bottles of various different brews, including a bottle or two of my childhood favorite, Bubble Up, a bottle of Reed's Cherry Ginger Brew, some Frosties's Blue Cream Soda (which is, delightfully, the exact color of Windex), Cool Mountain Gourmet Razzberry soda, Pennsylvania Punch (micro-crafted!), Nuky Rose Soda, Moxie Cream Soda, Goya Tamarind Soda, and several varieties of cherry limeade, root beer, diet black cherry soda (die schlanke Linie, don't you know), and at least a dozen different types of ginger ale. So much fun!

Galco's is going to be my regular circuit from now on. And conveniently, it's right down the block from El Arco Iris (5684 York Blvd., (323) 254-3401), so I can scratch two itches with one, slightly long, highly caloric, weekday lunchtime field trip from downtown.

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  1. While Galco's is great, there are two caveats:

    It's not cheap. You do pay full retail and then some. However there is a 10% discount when buying a case.

    For some unexplained reason, they're pretty rigid on what they stock. They will NOT stock any domestic canned sodas, meaning that you won't find something as wonderful Canfield's Diet Chocolate Fudge there. Nor will they take requests if they fall out of their business principles.

    1. We love this place -- every time we go, the owner pops by to offer assistance, and he really knows his stuff (and is just plain nice as pie). He has the makings for "Berliner Kindl Weisse," a very low-alcohol German beer that is mixed with raspberry syrup, delicious and impossible to find.
      Don't forget the aisle of hard-to-find candies.

      1. Galco is a walk down memory lane and a total treasure. I used to live in the 'hood and enjoy shopping for vintage soda and candy after a meal at Arco Iris.
        Now all I can think of is Ting and Abba Zabba! Your post has me salivating like Pavlov's dog.

        1. This is a real neat place, I go every now and then for my fix of Bubble Up. And the owner's daughter is a real hottie!

          1. I agree that prices are on the high side but without much, if any competition, he can almost name his price.

            I love their selection of root beer and ginger ale.

            The sandwiches are decent.

            1. David, I enjoy your posts here more than any other's. I'm still eating Korean at Maru based on your review. One thing I don't like about the new CH is I can't search for yours and other's posts the way I could easily with the old CH. Oh well. I was at a favorite taco stand, Tacos el Michoacano near there on York, about a month ago when I passed by Gelco's and thought I'd stop in. I recalled how Heull Hauser did an entire show there. It's quite a place. Great place to graze and try one-of-these and one-of-those, etc. It was great to have Nesbitt's orange again. All my life I've wanted to try Moxie, and I was finally able to. (One bottle is enough for me.) I suggest you try the Mint Julep and the Jackson Hole Soda Co. High Mountain Huckleberry. I saw the show mentioned last weekend on a History Channel special. The sandwiches seem to be popular, too. Briggs, you make a good point. When I visited, I specifically asked the guy about the Canfield's amazing diet fudge soda, and he said that it's no longer being made. Googling quickly proves that's not the case. I will e-mail him and maybe he'll carry it. Anybody know of a local source for Canfield's?

              7 Replies
              1. re: Andrew Gore

                You can track David or any other user (once registered, as evidenced by the user name being underlined) by clicking on the user's name and then bookmarking them. Further discussion on this should take place on Site Talk or User Help.

                1. re: Andrew Gore

                  gelsons in marina del rey carries canfields diet chocolate fudge soda.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    Almost all Gelson's carry Canfields

                  2. re: Andrew Gore

                    Hi... Love Galco's too. But regarding their sandwiches, I was much less than kind about 'em in a thread from several months ago, so i won't revisit my original derision. When you say that the sandwiches "seem to be popular", was this assessment based on customers queing up the the counter to order while you visited, or from the the propoganda from the TV shows (like Huell's) mentioned? I'm curious, because there seems to be a small but very generous affirmative response to that forlorn looking sandwich counter. Maybe I've just never been there during a lunch hour...

                    1. re: silence9

                      I remember that thread about Galco's sandwiches.

                      I don't understand the negative reaction. Sure, they aren't the best sandwiches around, but I think they're quite good. Good bread, good meat, nice shredded lettuce.

                      I especially like the south of the border variation, with the chile and the avocado.

                      1. re: socal

                        Hi, socal... Ever witness the vociferous exchanges about Langer's pastrami sandwich versus Brent's version? Or people ripping on any number of long established sandwich institutions like Phillipe's, Apple Pan, Bay Cities, Pink's, father's Office, and on and on? These are real sandwich joints, but either the casing's too snappy or not snappy enough, or the rye's too soft, or the dip makes the bread too mushy, or the meat's not hand cut, or the bleu cheese is too salty. Posters flay, dissect and dis-embowel sandwich attributes here with gusto and aplomb. I'd wager that if all the folks who can find fault in most of these signature burgers, dogs and sandwiches (that are known to most of us so well), one look at that last aisle at the back of Galco's would have them either chuckling in derisive amazement or walking away shaking their heads. Not saying that this is right (a sandwich does not need a pedigree or consensus approval, after all); but L.A. Chowhounds are often so mercilessly hard on sammiches in the big leagues, what do YOU think they'd have to say about those Galco subs decked out "with good lettuce"? ;-)

                      2. re: silence9

                        When I said that the sandwiches "seem to be popular", this assessment was based on customers queuing up the the counter to order while I visited. ;-) I figger that if peope go there and stand in line, there must be something to 'em. But I'll actually buy a couple next time to see for myself.

                    2. Canfield's DCF is at Gelson's Silverlake as well. Even Ralphs at Fletcher & Glendale has it from to time or will order it if requested.

                      Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that Galco's is around (and even more glad that it's 5 minutes away from me). Some of their markup however can be steep (things like seltzer is one).

                      1. The prices are crazy, as is his rigidity. Try being a diet soda fan and getting some nostalgia soda there. He is a cane sugar snob, adn refuses to stock many diets. Moxie has diet, as well as cheerwine and a ton of other brands..but because it doesn't have "cane suger" he refuses to carry it, and can be pretty darn rude about it.

                        Pity to those of us watching our waistline.

                        I take my money to Gelson's, Bevmo, or somewhere else!

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Diana

                          I've noticed a surprisingly large selection of diet sodas, actually. He has all of the Stewart's diet varieties and Boylan's as well. The real problem is that I don't think that a lot of more common diet sodas come in bottles. The Web site currently lists 32 different diet sodas, so I don't know what exactly it is that you want.

                          As for the prices...that's what bottled soda costs anywhere. You get a discount when you buy a case. And if you buy a "case card," you get an additional discount.

                          1. re: Jack Flash

                            Bevmo has the same varieties and offers a Bvmo club discount on ANY purchase, not just by the case.

                            They can't beat Galco's beer selection, though.

                            1. re: Diana

                              Check again. Your BevMo club only offers discounts on selected merchandise, not everything in the store. You can still use your card everytime and build up bonus points or whatever, but on lots of things there is no discount. That said, because of bulk buying, BevMo can offer lower prices on some merchandise. E.g., a bottle of AJ Stephan's Root Beer goes for $1.75 at Galco's, but is only $1.09 at BevMo. And Boylan's goes for $1.85 at Galco's, but only $1.09 at BevMo. The difference is less, of course, if you have the Galco's card, but it does add up, to be sure.

                              I'll pay the difference at Galco's because I like to support an independent business, but there's no denying that one of the great things about BevMo is its purchasing power and the savings passed along to the consumer (which I certainly apprecaite).

                            2. re: Jack Flash

                              My current favorite diet soda is the Stewart's Black Cherry. A bit on the sweet side, but really nice, rich flavor. A real treat.

                          2. Galco's used to be an Italian deli/market, used to be a very special treat for us. I also like what it's become, especially fun seeing all those candy bars from my childhood. I think those sandwiches are a remnant from the old Italian deli days, but they tasted much better back then, or, more likely, my tastebuds have changed. The current Galco sandwiches are only good if you're really hungry.

                            1. One more thing...while I've only gotten sodas and drinks there and no sandwhiches, we did order a pumpkin pie from them that was really great (supposedly homemade).

                              FWIW, I haven't had a problem with getting diet drinks there - I believe he carries/carried a diet cherry lime ricky (bottled of course). I just think it's a little foolish to be that rigid about "nothing domestic in a can" - a direct quote, btw.