Editor’s Picks

14 Milkshakes to Slurp Down This Summer

And just in time for swimsuit season!

By Katharine Shilcutt July 9, 2015 Published in the July 2015 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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Pair your popcorn with milkshakes at Alamo Drafthouse.

Image: Kate LeSueur

There’s been a resurgence of interest in the humble milkshake this summer, as the city’s restaurants and burger stands alike turn out new twists on the old favorite, using local ingredients and reflecting a decidedly Houstonian flavor. You’ll want to ask for two straws with most of these mammoths, but what better way to spend a hot afternoon with a friend?

Alamo Drafthouse

An extensive selection of shakes is on offer at this Austin-based cinema chain with locations in Vintage Park and Katy, including the usual suspects—chocolate, vanilla, strawberry (in ancho, Mexican and balsamic varieties, respectively)—as well as our favorite, salted caramel. Or channel your inner adult with a Mexican chocolate shake featuring tequila, a Grasshopper shake with crème de cacao and mint, or frothy beer shakes made with 512’s Pecan Porter or Southern Star’s Buried Hatchet stout.  

Another Time Soda Fountain & Café

Walking into this Rosenberg institution really is like stepping into another time. Besides shakes, you’ll find soda jerks turning out malts, floats, brownie sundaes and banana splits. (The simple, sweet cherry shake is our favorite.) Bonus: this restored soda fountain sits right across the street from the beautiful Rosenberg Railroad Museum (hint, hint—field trip). 

Backstreet Cafe

There's only one milkshake on the menu at this classic River Oaks bistro, and it's $13, but it's worth your attention: "The Forty Year Old" milkshake boast homemade mascarpone ice cream blended with real vanilla beans, Texas honey and a generous dose of 1979 Toro Albala Pedro Ximenez sherry. You don't have to be 40 years old to drink it (nor is the PX sherry technically 40 either), but this is certainly not a milkshake for minors.

Becks Prime

If your passion is for a milkshake so thick it’s undrinkable without a spoon, head to Becks Prime for one of the local burger chain’s famous shakes. The strawberries-and-cream shake is a cult classic, although the Jamoca, made with fresh-brewed coffee, brings the added promise of caffeinated calories.

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The Field Trip at Bernie's Burger Bus features fresh Texas peaches and a cobbler crumble on top.

Bernie’s Burger Bus

The first thing you’ll notice about Bernie’s milkshakes is how light they feel. Don’t be deceived, however: they’re surprisingly dense in flavor and pack a punch to the taste buds thanks to ingredients like homemade fudge (in the chocolate shake), roasted pineapple (in the vanilla bean and white chocolate shake) and salted caramel apples (in the apple pie shake topped with streusel crumble).

Chill...The Milkshake Bar

The name at this Spring spot popular with area teens says everything: This is an old-school shake shop, where milkshakes and malts are king, crowned with toppings ranging from Oreo cookie "dirt" and gummy worms to fruit-filled chunks of cherry pie. If you're hungry, you can dive into one of the grilled cheese sandwiches or ice cream-topped waffles, both made to order, but we're willing to bet you won't have much room after a banana cream pie shake or a Nutter Butter malt.

The Counter

It’s not just the burgers at The Counter that are build-your-own, but the milkshakes too. Your construction materials include Nutella, salted pretzels, brownies, cherry pie filling, all manner of fresh fruit and much more. Too overwhelming? Choose a pre-built option like the Graceland (peanut butter, banana and smoked bacon) or the very adult Chocolate Cherry Pinot Noir.

Fat Cat Creamery

Owner Sarah Johnston first rose to fame for ice creams made with all-local milk, eggs and sugar. Today, you can get any of her flavors—from bourbon pecan pie to strawberry-buttermilk—blended into a shake at her adorable parlor in the Heights.

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Witness the majesty of Fielding's over-the-top Raspberry Overload shake.

Fielding’s Wood Grill

As with nearly everything else served here, the ice cream at Fielding’s is made in-house. So are the treats mixed into its shakes, including caramel, granola and strawberry-basil jam. Fielding’s also specializes in decidedly adult offerings like a bananas foster shake with Flor de Caña dark rum.

Good Dog Houston

If you find yourself struggling to choose between the cajeta and Caphin shake (named for the highly sweet, highly caffeinated and locally bottled Vietnamese iced coffee) and the chocolate rocky road, take the advice of a friend who’s a regular at this Heights standby: order them both and mix. (Hey, we never said our friends were sophisticates!)

Grub Burger Bar

Sure it’s unlikely that you’ll still have room for it after one of this venerable establishment’s two-handeds, but you’ll probably be tempted by the American Pie shake anyway, a concoction made from apple pie filling, baked pie crust and maple syrup. That, or our other favorite, the Kitchen Sink—which, true to its name, contains everything from pretzels to peanut butter to butterscotch to caramel to chocolate chips to potato chips to—wait, what?— coffee grounds. For a couple bucks extra, make it a Dirty Kitchen Sink, as in the above topped with chocolate vodka. You may need a ride home. 

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Everything's better with sprinkles—especially shakes.

Hopdoddy Burger Bar

This Austin import is known as much for its burgers as its shakes. Even the "standard" flavors have flare: Nutella and chocolate pretzel; caramel and sea salt; chocolate stout. But it's the monthly specials—take a recent chipotle peanut butter cup with ancho puree, spicy coconut flakes and grey sea salt—that demand return visits to see what they've whipped up.

Katz’s Deli

Why be torn between a shake and a slice of New York cheesecake at this Montrose mainstay? Just have them put an entire slice into the blender. The result is divine, especially at 3 a.m. after a long night in Montrose (or so we hear), where the 24-hour Katz’s on Lower Westheimer famously “never kloses.” 

Little Bigs

Craving one of Reef’s notorious Milkshake No Minors but don’t want to get all dressed up and make reservations? This casual burger joint—also owned by Reef chef Bryan Caswell—is for you, offering both a larger version of the boozy Milkshake No Minors as well as The Frozen Joe, an equally potent chocolate-praline shake with Katz Coffee that’s best paired with Little Bigs’ fresh-cut fries.


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