The Guilty Pleasure: The entire store. But mostly the milkshakes. Where To Get It: Bertie's Vintage, 4041 East Thomas Road (at 40th Street) The Price: $5.25 What It Really Costs: Just went up a size from all the decadence? You're in luck: They have swell clothes for sale, too.
I have two well-documented weaknesses. Go through the Guilty Pleasures archive, and you'll see that I have a massive sweet tooth. Go through my closet, and you'll see I love swanky retro and vintage clothing. Then someone told me that there is a place in Arcadia (truthfully, a bit outside Arcadia, down on 40th Street and Thomas; close enough for me) that sells both. Even better, they serve up the best shakes my friend has ever had. My waistline and my wallet both quaked with fear.
Bertie's is a few shops rolled into one cozy package. There's a small but well-curated selection of vintage (or at least vintage-looking) clothing and accessories, and a retro candy shop. The centerpiece, though, is the soda fountain counter. My friend was right: These are some of the best damn shakes around. The secret at Bertie's is simple and ingenious: In addition to ice cream and milk, they're spiked with a dash of Torani syrup for a serious flavor boost. While my friend's favorite is the Sophia Loren (vanilla ice cream, Big Red soda, cinnamon syrup, and crushed Red Hots candies), so far my favorite has been the James Dean (marble fudge and vanilla ice creams, with Kahlúa and caramel syrups). I'm trying to figure out what to have on my next visit. I may just have to start at the top of the menu and systematically work my way down the whole list.
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While ice cream treats take center stage at Bertie's, the variety of baked goods steal the show. There are dense, fudgy brownies. There are cake pops actually worth eating. My favorite so far has been the peanut butter cookies. These, like the shakes, are possibly the best peanut butter cookies I've had anywhere. They're perfectly baked with lacy, crispy edges, a soft (almost gooey) middle, and sprinkled with crumbled Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. If you see a jar of them on the counter, try one. You'll be very glad you did.
There is one thing I need to mention before you go: The place is almost impossible to spot from the street. It's on the southeast corner, tucked behind the pet food store. Believe me, it's worth tracking down. Why aren't you in the car yet? Let's go!