When the world sucks, it’s time to suck it up — through a straw. Downing a milkshake is like sipping on nostalgia. Sure, they’re creamy and often dreamy (as you'll soon see), but the best go beyond blended ice cream to include syrups, natural flavors, and impressive toppers that make every indulgent slurp worth it.
We sipped our way across the Valley to find Phoenix’s must-try milkshakes. Here are seven tempting treats that can shake up even the worst day.
ZuZu Restaurant at Hotel Valley Ho6850 East Main Street, Scottsdale
Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry … pashaw! The “Show Stopper” shake at ZuZu Restaurant is a large, in-charge, busting-at-the-seams, $18 creation that defies gravity and traditional milkshake flavors. The flavor rotates monthly. At the time of this reporting, the monthly is a tropical Ho-Lada Colada, a pineapple piña colada milkshake encrusted with fruity cereal, toasted coconut, and rock candy. It's topped with a mini key lime pie and a boston crème donut. But know this: Whenever you do snag a “Show Stopper” shake, it’s always over-the-top, literally, with fun additions overflowing onto the tray. It’s always shareable, but if you want to tackle this beast solo, consider yourself warned.
The Stand Arcadia Burger Shoppe3538 East Indian School Road
Shakes at The Stand in Arcadia are boldly designed. Take the salted dulce de leche. First the sides of the cup are coated in a candy coil of house-made caramel sauce, then in goes the goods. A mix of vanilla ice cream, more caramel, half-and-half, and coarse pink Himalayan sea salt for a sweet, salty suck. The chocolate chile shake is a handspun hedonistic hybrid that delivers bitter bites of gluten-free brownie and a hint of spice with each sip. Then there’s the banana stand — a banana pudding trifle concoction bursting in banana flavor that puts that doublewide straw to work.
Sweet Republic6054 North 16th Street
9160 East Shea Boulevard, Scottsdale
Makes sense that when you spin Sweet Republic’s award-winning artisan ice cream into a frenzy you get a highly memorable milkshake. How could three scoops of that densely delicious black sesame or bright and bold strawberry buttermilk not come out of a straw just right? But these milkshakes are more than just scoops, shake-ified. The triple chocolate shake is blended with bittersweet Belgian chocolate ice cream and chocolate syrup for a real chocolate lover's sip. The salted caramel combines the Phoenix-famous salted butter caramel ice cream with extra caramel for a creamy, caramely blast that’ll have you vacuuming up every dreamy drop.
Shakes & Cones7215 East First Street, Scottsdale
It all starts with the organic soft serve at Shakes & Cones, the walk-up window spot in Old Town. The made-from-scratch base is created daily with organic ingredients, as in no preservatives, chemicals, or other things you can't pronounce. Then come the specialty shake flavors, all bold and blended so mouth-puckeringly thick, they demand a spoon over a straw. Standouts include The BCG, a banana, caramel, graham cracker blast, the Vanutzel, a crunchy-creamy blend of vanilla soft serve, chocolate-covered pretzels, and hazelnut Nutella, and the vegan mint chocolate chip — a mintier-than-thou sip made with organic mint syrup and chocolate chips. Or go rogue and order off the mix-and-match menu, meaning you pick the soft serve (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, or vegan vanilla) and up to three flavors. Think organic cake batter and marshmallow fluff.
Milk Run1702 West Camelback Road
Milk Run has its drinks down. The strip mall spot neighboring Pho Thanh on Camelback Road packs in regulars and newbies who may walk in parched, but walk out with ravishing refreshers they can’t suck down fast enough. While there isn’t one drink to order (Vietnamese coffee freezes, multi-colored mangonadas, and lychee strawberry slushies are tops), the milkshakes are a must. Cookie Monster takes the blue-hued Oreo cookie ice cream and tops it with whipped cream and cookie crumbs for a “Me want milkshake!” treat. Or go more exotic with Thai Tea, Taro, or Vietnamese Coffee, all blended with house-made ice cream and topped with a mountain of whipped cream. Pimp your sip with Nutella or boba for even more decadence.
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Nami2014 North Seventh Street
Have a milkshake for breakfast at Nami. The completely vegan ice cream and coffee bar in the Coronado District shakes up an energizing espresso drink, a wake-up call twith two eye-opening shots of espresso, almond milk, and that popular vegan soft serve,. This coconut milk and soy-based blend is made in-house, a cup of frothy Joe that somehow coats your mouth in creamy goodness, yet is totally dairy free. Nami also makes a mean strawberry shake that doubles down on both strawberry preserve and fresh strawberries for extra straw sucking.
Lucky’s Burgers & Shakes13849 North 19th Avenue
Ordering food at Lucky’s Burgers & Shakes is a no-brainer. A charbroiled burger topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onions on a sesame bun with a side of fries. Yes, please. But it’s choosing a shake flavor that’ll have you shook. From banana and brownie to Butterfinger and butterscotch (and that’s just the Bs), there are 15 flavors to choose from and you do get to pick two. Feeling fruity? Go pineapple and strawberry. Feeling flat? Get Oreo and peanut butter? Feeling frisky? Try cherry and chocolate. After you choose your own taste adventure, you’re handed a blizzard on crack, a candy-cookie combo that’s as thick as it is delicious.