A sampling of Detroit ice cream parlors
Published: June 18, 2014
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. 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 St., 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 and ranges all the way up to a monster-sized Avalanche, 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 68 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 TLC. (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 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 the more adventurous like cinnamony horchata, cake batter, and “Holstein paradise” — coconut with chocolate 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 over 30 years, as Clark’s for more than 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, which is available in various variations.
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. They have about a dozen special flavors they rotate through. Cash only.
Erma’s Frozen Custard 6451 Auburn Rd., Utica; 586-254-3080; 2080 East 14 Mile Rd., Warren; 586-275-2470. ermascustard.com: Opening the Utica location in 1942, and the Warren location in 2010, these roadside custard stands stock a few flavors a week, but what flavors! For a full schedule, see the website. Both locations are open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. We here at Metro Times highly recommend the “Custard Puff.”
Family Treats 2010 Springwells St., Detroit; 313-841-3522: This southwest Detroit ice cream joint serves your favorite heat-busting sweet treats, but also has savory fare, including burgers, dogs, fries — even tacos — all at affordable prices.
Guernsey Farms Dairy Family Style Restaurant 21300 Novi Rd., Northville; 248-349-1466; guernseyfarmsdairy.com: You can go to Guernsey Farms just for an ice cream cone, or to buy dairy products from a little convenience store, or you can go for a meal. For less than $5, the black-and-white sundae — a combination of chocolate and vanilla ice cream with marshmallow and hot fudge, sprinkled with nuts, piled with whipped cream, and a cherry — is a meal itself! Guernsey Farms has kept families lapping up quality ice cream since 1940. With 48 flavors available at any given time (and many more in production), as well as an assortment of cones, sherbets, sorbets and other ice cream desserts, you’ll probably have a hard time deciding what to order. There’s no need to worry — free samples are available upon request. If you’re stunned by the selection, ask for butter pecan, take a seat outside in the shade on one of the many boulders and lick it up — you won’t be disappointed. If you can’t get enough of the creamy delights, most flavors are available in both half-gallon and 3-1/2 gallon sizes for purchase. Other products include chocolate milk, skim milk, probiotic milk, sour cream, chip dip and more.
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