Remember when salt first started upstaging sugar during dessert, to the shock of mainstream diners everywhere? (Sea salt on chocolate chip cookies? Shut the front door!) These days you'd be hard pressed to find a hip restaurant that doesn't give salt top billing on at least one post-dinner dish; what once connoted culinary cool has become commonplace. Not that we're complaining - nothing makes sugar's sweetness sing like a little NaCl.
We recently pitted two of the Valley's best shakes against each other to see which would survive a salty caramel smackdown.
In This Corner: The Stand
The Setup: Located in the Arcadia neighborhood in Central Phoenix, this hamburger and taco joint opened its doors in early 2013. The Stand emphasizes fresh ingredients and high-quality food, fast, with both counter and drive-thru service.
The Good: We love how the salt in The Stand's dulce de leche shake plays more than just a nominal role; its presence really heightens the drink's bold caramel flavor.
The Bad: Our only complaint - it's too darn delicious. Don't order this one if you're counting calories; you'll never be able to stop at just a sip.
In The Other Corner: Hopdoddy
The Setup: Arizona burger lovers cheered when the Scottsdale location of this Austin-based eatery opened late last year. Burger options range from classic beef to bison to ahi tuna. Buns are baked fresh and ingredients are all natural.
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The Good: Thick, cold, and creamy, Hopdoddy's Caramel and Sea Salt Shake doesn't disappoint. Particularly pleasing - the whipped cream, which has never seen the inside of a can. You can practically still hear the cow mooing.
The Bad: The flavor was a bit understated to satisfy our serious salty caramel cravings.
The Winner: The Stand. The Salted Dulce De Leche Shake packs a major salty caramel punch we just can't get enough of, while Hopdoddy's offering strikes us as a glorified (albeit, unusually good) vanilla shake. If, like us, you're happiest when the salty caramel flavor takes center stage, stick with The Stand.