Best Lunch Counter

Jennifer's Pharmacy & Soda Shoppe

We romanticize the past as a simpler, quieter time. This is probably inaccurate — we're guessing people ate lunch at their desks just as much in 1962 as they do now — but Jennifer's Pharmacy & Soda Shoppe does a great deal to contribute to the illusion. The drugstore soda fountain was all but dead when pharmacist Jennifer Rich imported a vintage marble counter from Oregon to her downtown Clayton pharmacy in 2005, in an attempt to re-create a piece of her small-town Illinois childhood. It worked. The service at Jennifer's is efficient but not hurried. It takes time to mix a milkshake or a lime rickey (if you don't know what that is, just read the menu), and while you wait, the friendly staff will chat with you about your family shopping woes or your boot-camp workout regimen. A Crock-Pot of chili bubbles on the back counter; hot dogs sizzle on the grill. It's not as novel as a food truck, but you do get to sit down while you eat your lunch.

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