The Alpha is a Wheeling landmark. Tucked away on a side street a few blocks from the National Road (US 40) and a mile or so off I70, the Alpha has been a part of Wheeling for generations. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty solid.
Once you find the right side street (50 Carmel Road), the Alpha is pretty easy to spot:
That’s actually the entrance to the bar, which is filled with an amazing collection of dead critter heads, including one very large moose (the symbol of the place). The restaurant doors are to the right and look like the front steps to a house. The inside is pretty big, but it will fill up at busy times; the solution there is just to grab a pint of your favorite beverage at the bar and wait for a table. The bar carries the traditional American beers but it’s hard to order a microbrew triple IPA with a large moose head staring down at you. Oddly, they don’t carry Moosehead, which is a huge marketing mistake.
Meals begin with chips and salsa (the salsa is pretty good though the chips are clearly brand X) and you will need the time because the menu is enormous (standards, sandwiches, Greek, Mexican, Italian). My first visit was a lunch trip that invovled an “Iron Chef” style challenge where the cooks made three different types of chicken soup and I was supposed to vote for my favorite. I’ve been there 5 or so times since and everything has been good to very good, which considering the size of the menu is pretty amazing.
My last trip involved the Zac Brown sandwich (I have been told he did a song called “Fried Chicken”). It’s a nicely-sized fried chicken breast on a pretzel bun with apple slaw and chipotle maple sauce.
It was delicious with the sweet of the apple slaw and maple glaze working with the savory of the chicken. It was also impossible to eat without making a mess; I think I went through a half dozen napkins. The fries and extra (regular) slaw were extra and nothing special. My advice is save room for dessert.
The Alpha’s desserts are enormous. Seriously, folks from the Cheescake Factory would visit and tell them the portions are too big. The Bridgeport Brownie actually carries a warning that it is made to share. The Moose Cream carries no such warning, but should. It was a huge bowl of peanut butter ice cream topped with crushed peanuts, caramel and chocolate covered bacon.
The chocolate covered bacon is not photogenic, but it works well if you like a combination of sweet and salty.
Service is always friendly and fairly quick. The Alpha is a little pricey, but fair when you consider the size of the portions. It’s open seven days a week with decent hours. http://yeoldealpha.com/index.html
Is it unique?
Not sure if it’s unique, but it’s the one place to stop in Wheeling if you want to experience the city. The menu is too large for the Alpha to be great at any one thing, but it covers most bases and covers them well. Each member of a family that can’t come to a consensus on dinner can find something here. Just bring an appetite and save room for dessert.