From snack shacks to popular parlors, unpretentious spots for cones and more
Published: June 27, 2012
Bob Jo's 4071 Fort St., Wyandotte; 734-282-6818: A fixture on Fort Street since the late 1950s (it was moved from Eureka and Fort, where it was founded in 1947), this Downriver roadside stand specializes in custard and yogurt, and patrons aren't fussy. Most people seem to like their "twist cones," the familiar combination soft-serve treat. You can get a medium twist for $2.44 with tax. Each week, Bob Jo's offers vanilla and chocolate custard and a twist, as well as one of about 25 special flavors (it changes from week to week; past flavors have included Blue Moon). They also serve frozen yogurt that's free of sugar, cholesterol and fat. Sprinkles are extra, but they offer no hard-shell ice cream topping. Bob Jo's closes for the season in mid-September.
Burk's Igloo 10300 Conant, Hamtramck; 313-872-6830: The corner cone booth adorned with a cartoon igloo and a friendly penguin attracts people of all ages with popular short-order menu items ranging from a coney dog and fries to their best-selling Avalanche ice cream dessert. The Avalanche (similar to Dairy Queen's Blizzard) starts with a tiny 12-ounce for $2.95, a small for $3.80, and ranges all the way up to a monster-sized Avalanche ($7.90 plus tax), which comes complete with 44 ounces of soft-serve ice cream crammed with whatever kind of candy you — and the kid inside of you — crave. Burk's has kept locals lining up for their ice cream since the 1960s, and is open this summer from noon to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Dine outdoors at picnic tables and enjoy the sort of people-watching only Hamtramck can offer.
Calder Brothers Dairy 1020 Southfield Rd., Lincoln Park; 313-381-8858; calderdairy.com: Having logged 66 years of operation, the Calder Brothers' spot may be the last remaining Downriver dairy taking it from cow to cone. They still make their ice cream fresh, right on their own farm in Carleton, using milk from their own moo-cows. They do not use artificial hormones to enhance milk production, instead relying on healthy feed rations, good management and lots of T.L.C. (The cows even have their own nutritionist!) And the resulting ice cream is served up in cones, malts and shakes in their own ice cream parlor (open noon-10 p.m.). Or you can load up on a wide variety of dairy products at their adjoining store, where you can find more than 30 flavors of ice cream by the half-gallon and even full gallons. Flavors range from reliable vanilla to cinnamony horchata, and this year they've introduced two new flavors: cake batter and "Holstein paradise" — coconut with chocolates chips and almonds. The ice cream is reportedly notable enough to draw the occasional out-of-state visitor. Drop in and find out why.
Clark's Ice Cream & Yogurt 3312 12 Mile Rd., Berkley; 248-541-6560: With about 60 different flavors, Clark's is a well-stocked roadside stand with a small lobby inside and benches and picnic tables outside. The stand has been in business for about 30 years, as Clark's for two decades. They sell Blizzard-like Clark's Chillers, with soft-serve, Oreos and Butterfingers, as well as a host of hand-dipped cones. The most popular flavors of ice cream include "moose tracks" (a vanilla-chocolate mixed with peanut butter cups), amaretto cherry and butter pecan. Cones come in regular, sugar and waffle. A two-scoop cone runs between $2.25 (child's size) and $4 (adult size). Open from noon to 10:30 p.m..
Culver's Frozen Custard and ButterBurgers 5910 Jackson Rd., Ann Arbor; 734-741-1111; 11001 Belleville Rd., Belleville; 734-699-6100; 6910 Sashabaw Rd., Clarkston; 248-922-9224; 700 W. 12 Mile Rd., Madison Heights; 248-546-5311; 30820 Little Mack Ave., Roseville; 586-415-8804: 14800 Racho Rd., Taylor; 734-287-3147; 6500 Newburgh Rd., Westland; 734-595-1883; culvers.com: The restaurant is a chain, but the spirit is pure roadside — taken to the extreme. The popular "Turtle" sundae is made with hot fudge, hot caramel and pecans over vanilla custard. As for ice cream, there are about 100 flavors. Each store arranges its own flavor of the day as it sees fit; some schedule a monthly calendar, others pick a new flavor each morning. They try to select flavors suitable to holidays (expect Red, White and Blueberry — vanilla ice cream with strawberries and blueberries — on Fourth of July). The menu includes the burger that made them famous, the ButterBurger (natch). New this year is the roasted red pepper cheddar butterburger.
Custard Hut 25947 W. Warren St., Dearborn Heights; 313-278-5577: What makes frozen custard so much richer? It's the formula that calls for higher butterfat content, giving an added richness that draws many into this venerable custard shop. They do vanilla, chocolate, a vanilla-chocolate twist, and a flavor of the week that they can also twist with vanilla. Last week, it was black cherry. (They have about a dozen special flavors they rotate through.) Cash-only.
Erma's Frozen Custard 6451 Auburn Rd., Utica; 586-254-3080; ermascustard.com: Open since 1942, this roadside custard stand stocks a few flavors a week, but what flavors! Until July 1, their special flavor is piña colada, their bonus flavor is lemon chiffon, and their "Erma ice" is orange. July 2-8, the special is strawberry, the bonus is blue moon, and the ice is watermelon. For a full schedule, see the website. Located between Mound and Van Dyke roads just north of M-59, open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. One of our fellow employees recommends the "Custard Puff" highly.
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