Nothing beats a milkshake on a hot summer’s day.
That combination of milk and ice cream is especially soothing, cooling and decadent when temperatures soar. There’s something old school about it, too – something that evokes nostalgia for the days of soda fountains and our youth and young love, the early days of rock ’n’ roll and simpler times, when teens stuck two straws in the just-mixed rich-and-thick concoction and called it a date.
Milkshakes have to be thick. They’re so much better if a spoon is required – at least at first. After all, a milkshake is drinkable ice cream. But a skimpy, thin and runny milkshake is such a disappointment, especially after shelling out six bucks for it – or more.
It’s so difficult to decide what flavor to order. Milkshakes come in every flavor imaginable – from classic strawberry, chocolate and vanilla to fancier flavors such as salted caramel, dulce de leche and, at least around these parts, huckleberry. Some local shops have more than two dozen flavors from which to choose. They don’t make it easy, do they?
Here are a few favorite spots for milkshakes in the Inland Northwest. For the love of ice cream, why not make it a goal to visit each of these 14 spots this summer?
Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Masterson sat at the counter here in their Spokane-filmed movie “Benny & Joon.” If you need another reason to go there, consider the milkshakes. They come with a spoon and whatever’s left in the stainless steel mixing cup, old-school style – just like this little gem of a diner itself. Ferguson’s opened in 1941 and has been featured in three films since – 1981’s “Why Would I Lie?” and 1985’s “Vision Quest” along with 1993’s quirky Depp movie. Posters for all three hang on the walls today. The cafe was damaged in a fire in fall 2011, reopening the following summer. The diner is done in yellow, cream and pale green with black accents. Coat racks adorn some of the vintage-style booths. Shake flavors are chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, butterscotch, caramel, lemon, banana, peanut butter, Oreo and Orangecicle. Shakes are $4.99. 804 W. Garland Ave. Call (509) 328-1950.
Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle
Like Ferguson’s next door, these milkshakes come with a spoon and the whatever’s left in the stainless steel mixing cup. That’s how you know they are serious. Flavors at the vintage soda fountain and diner include butterscotch, butter brickle, cookie dough, cookies and cream, mocha, root beer, huckleberry and River City Sludge, or chocolate with brownie. There’s a distinctive vintage vibe here, too. The milk bottle structure, a local landmark, was built in the early 1930s and was originally used for selling dairy products, such as cream and milk. The eatery was added later, and – in August 1998 – it was recognized by Sunset magazine as one of the region’s top ice cream parlors. Milkshakes are $5.75. 802 W. Garland Ave. Call (509) 325-1772.
Doyle’s Ice Cream Parlor
This old-school, red-striped corner shop has been a creamy cornerstone of the West Central neighborhood since 1939. Jerry Gill has owned the business since 1991 and says his shakes are “the best in Spokane.” There’s no phone or website, but Doyle’s does have a Facebook page. The shop opened for the summer ice cream season on Saturday. Shakes are $6. Doyle’s is at 2229 W. Boone Ave.
Chocolate, Oreo and butterscotch are popular shake flavors at this 1950s-style diner in the Lincoln Heights Shopping Center on Spokane’s South Hill. Don’t let its strip mall-y exterior fool you; it’s super cute inside – with deep-red booths anchored by individual coat racks and accented by pale yellow and green. There’s a lunch counter, too, so you can watch the cooks. Shakes and malts are hand-dipped and cost $4.79. They come with whipped cream, sprinkles, a spoon and the mixing cup with whatever there wasn’t room for in the vintage-looking glass. Hogan’s is at 2977 E. 29th Ave. Call (509) 535-7567.
Mix and match your favorite flavors at this cozy, old-fashioned, 1950s-themed burger joint, which serves shakes in the mixing cup. The motto here is “Woof it down at Wolffy’s,” where customers can sit at the red, lunch counter and watch line cooks flip burgers on the grill. Shakes are $4.50. Add another flavor for 75 cents. Flavors are Northwest berry, strawberry, chocolate, caramel, coffee, peanut butter, fudge, banana, cherry, lime and Oreo. 1229 N. Hamilton St. Call (509) 487-1587. On the web: wolffyshamburgers.com.
This charming corner scoop shop makes its own ice cream in house the way no one else in Spokane does: with liquid nitrogen. Tanks the size of adults greet customers as they walk inside the door. Flavors are ever-changing. One day last week, options included banoffee pie, strawberry rhubarb, Roast House coffee and cream, Nutella, bubblegum, vanilla bean and more. Milkshakes come in two sizes: three scoops, or 12 ounces, for $6, and four scoops, or 16 ounces, for $7.50. 1001 W. 25th Ave. On the web: thescoopspokane.com. Call (509) 535-7171.
This contemporary ice cream shop is known for its creative ice cream combinations and names, such as Cakey Dough and Chunky Pug, with salted caramel flavor and peanut butter cups. Look, also, for huckleberry, Coffee and Donuts, and Dirt, with chocolate pudding and chocolate cookies. Milkshakes are $6.25 and come in plastic to-go cups with lids. Brain Freeze has two locations. On the South Hill: 1230 S. Grand Blvd. Call (509) 309-3830. In Kendall Yards: 1238 W. Summit Parkway. Call (509) 321-7569. On the web: brainfreezecreamery.com.
The Onion has been a Spokane institution since 1978. What goes better with one of the restaurant’s gourmet burgers than a hand-dipped milkshake made with premium hard ice cream? There’s a large variety of flavors to choose from: peanut butter, chocolate, strawberry, Oreo, vanilla, banana, peach, caramel, pineapple and, of course, huckleberry. Expect whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry on top. Shakes are $6.50 and ample enough to share. The Onion has two locations. The North Side spot was established in 1984. The downtown spot occupies a 1907 building that was once home to the St. Regis Hotel. The back bar dates to 1904 and was located in several spots around Spokane before it was installed in The Onion. On display at both locations: 1937 Harley-Davidson motorcycles, which remind patrons that life’s a journey and they should enjoy every moment. North Side: 7522 N. Division St. Call (509) 482-6100. Downtown: 302 W. Riverside Ave. Call (509) 747-3852. On the web: theonion.biz.
Roger’s Ice Cream
Established in 1940, this family-owned ice cream stand offers more than 17 flavors – all of which can be made into a milkshake. The original location is still open, along with two more outposts, all of which are in North Idaho. Flavors include caramel pretzel, maple nut, Caramel Caribou, Moose Tracks and Huckleberry Heaven. The small, 16-ounce shake is $4.99. The medium, 20-ounce shake is $5.99. And the large, 32-ounce shake is $6.89. The original location is at 1224 E. Sherman Ave. in Coeur d’Alene. Call (208) 930-4900. The second CdA location is at 155 W. Neider Ave. Call (208) 664-0696. The Post Falls location is at 403 N. Spokane St. Call (208) 773-6532. Each location has its own Facebook page. On the web: rogersicecreamburgers.com.
Abi’s Artisan Ice Cream
Owner Maren Scoggins is constantly creating new flavors at her small-batch ice cream shop, which makes all of its own ice cream in the store’s open kitchen. Customers can watch as she or any of her scoopers and ice cream makers get to work. Flavors have included brown sugar bourbon, coffee toffee, salted caramel, huckleberry, lemon and cookie dough. Her top-seller is malted vanilla toffee chocolate chip. Abi’s is a peanut- and tree nut-free facility. Shakes are $5. 12 N. Fourth St., Coeur d’Alene. Call (209) 930-0699. On the web: abisicecream.com.
This growing, family-owned regional Montana-based ice cream chain was founded in 2010. The Coeur d’Alene store is the first to be located outside of Big Sky Country. Sweet Peaks features nine “classic” flavors, plus another six to eight rotating varieties. Most don’t include artificial flavor or color. Expect Lafaza Madagascar Vanilla, Chocolate Love, Salty Caramel, Coconut Dream, Wustner Brother’s Honey Cinnamon, MCT Espresso, Cupcake, Grasshopper Mint and Huckleberry. Seasonal flavors have included orange cardamom, brown butter peach, chocolate-covered potato chip, peanut butter bacon, Bear Scat with chocolate-covered blueberries and Montana Christmas with Douglas fir tip-infused cream and a huckleberry swirl. Sixteen-ounce shakes are $5.50. 108 N. Fourth St., Coeur d’Alene Call (208) 666-0832. On the web: sweetpeaksicecream.com
Paul Bunyan Pak-Out
Shakes come in three sizes at this Coeur d’Alene burger joint with its landmark Paul Bunyan figure out front. There’s nothing too fancy about this small eatery. But there are more than two dozen shake flavors – from orange and Oreo to huckleberry, blue raspberry, Butterfinger, butterscotch, cherry, coconut, pineapple and peppermint. Shakes come in Styrofoam cups with plastic lids. Small is $2.70. Medium is $3.79. Large is $4.99. Paul Bunyan is at 602 Northwest Blvd. in Coeur d’Alene. Call (208) 664- 2725.
One of the most fun things about the milkshakes at this collection of fast-food joints is you can mix and match. The approximately 40 Zip’s locations throughout the Inland Northwest are individually owned, and there are differences between them, including shake flavors. Huckleberry is an old favorite. But Zip’s does pineapple, peanut butter, strawberry and coffee, among others. Try peanut butter and strawberry chunk with graham cracker crumbles if you want a shake that tastes like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Another option: Hurricanes, a blend of ice cream and chunks of candy or cookies such as Oreos or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. These come with spoons as well as extra-fat straws because they’re so thick. On the web: zipsdrivein.com.
Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shoppe
This Washington State University gem opened in 1948 and makes its own ice cream. The only sad thing about it: it’s only open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you can get to Pullman during those hours, more than 20 milkshake flavors await, including almond, brownie bits, butterscotch, caramel, cinnamon, cookie dough, cookies-n-cream, espresso, hazelnut, Irish cream, coconut and root beer. Shakes comes in two sizes. Small is $2.78. Large is $3.52. Ferdinand’s is at 2035 NE Ferdinand’s Lane in Pullman. Call (509) 335-2141. On the web: creamery.wsu.edu/ferdinands-ice-cream-shoppe.
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