Homemade root beer stars at Soda Steve’s Costa Rica-inspired eatery



NATALIE MIKLES World Scene Writer | Updated 7 months ago

Homemade root beer stars at Soda Steve’s Costa Rica-inspired eatery

Homemade root beer worth trip


If summer had a taste it would be sweet. Fizzy. Fresh. It would definitely pop.

The drink of summer must be soda pop.

And judging by the traffic at Pops and Soda Steve’s, we’re not the only ones who think so.

When the heat turns up, the moisture beads on bottles of soda and runs down ice cold mugs of root beer. If it’s hot enough to make a pop sweat, it must be soda season.
A reader’s tip led us to drive about an hour and a half southeast of Tulsa to Soda Steve’s. That’s quite a drive for root beer. But the reader assured us this wasn’t your average root beer.
Soda Steve’s is a fun restaurant on the Fin and Feather property on the south end of Lake Tenkiller. Edamame and cheese fries share space on the eclectic menu, but the homemade root beer is the star.

Steve Pool dreamed up the restaurant while on a mission trip to Costa Rica. There, he fell for the small spots called sodas – a mix between a diner and a convenience store – where you can grab a home-cooked meal and a drink. Soda Brenda’s was one of his favorites.

Pool and his wife, Lezli, are the co-owners of the Fin and Feather and thought one of these Costa Rican soda-inspired spots would be a fun addition to the Fin property.

“Basically everything I’ve ever wanted in a restaurant is in Soda Steve’s,” Pool said.
That includes a really good draft root beer.
Pool first looked into having a commercial root beer on tap, but once he delved into it, he decided he could make one even better.

“I have a pretty decent palate, and I knew what I was looking for. I didn’t want one that was really thin, I wanted it to stay on the tongue a little bit longer,” he said.
The first batch he made was admittedly terrible. The second batch wasn’t much better. By the 10th, he knew he was getting somewhere. In the end, Pool made 39 batches of root beer and used 10 tasters. By the 39th batch, all 10 tasters picked the same batch as their favorite.

In terms of beer, Pool would classify his root beer as a full-bodied, rich Guinness Stout.

“Or in terms of wine, it’s like a red wine. A big, heavy wine. You just kind of chew it,” he said.

It’s just the kind of thing you want to drink while eating cheese fries, of which Soda Steve’s has an entire collection. Steve’s straight-cut, skin-on fries are served with mounds of cheese and bacon. Then add spicy ranch or chili.

Burgers, sandwiches, onion rings, nachos: It’s summertime food that’s good with root beer or Soda Steve’s other drinks, including a homemade cream soda, root beer float, vanilla cream float and root beer shake.

Soda Steve’s also makes old-fashioned limeades. These are real-deal limeades, made uncarbonated with fresh limes and simple syrup.



Family on a mission

Steve Pool had his kids in mind when he started doing missions.

“I wanted them to see there weren’t video games and air conditioning all around the   world,” he said.

When each of his three children turned 12, he took them on a mission trip. He most  recently returned from South Africa with his youngest.

It was on a mission trip to Costa Rica that he was inspired to come back to open Soda Steve’s, his restaurant on the Fin and Feather resort property at Lake Tenkiller.  The Pools’ mission work is evident all over Soda Steve’s. A slideshow of the family’s mission work plays for customers to see, and a mission tip jar sits out for spare change. Pool even sells and serves his proprietary blend of coffee called Soda Steve’s Mission Blend.

Pool has led several trips, including to Vietnam.

“My real calling is for Vietnam. I was 13 when the war was over, but it still feels like my generation’s war. I had always wanted to go there,” he said.

Pool was among those who took the first United Methodist-sponsored mission trip to Vietnam since the war ended.

“When I got there, I could see I was supposed to be doing missions in Vietnam,” he said.