By JASON CAMPBELL
MODESTO – There’s a special relationship between Modesto and the milkshake.
It wasn’t invented there. People don’t flock to the city in droves to sample the wares at an annual festival, and there really isn’t even a clear frontrunner when it comes to the best in town.
But we’re talking about the city that provided the inspiration for American Graffiti – the city of McHenry Avenue and cruising teenagers and hundreds of people going back-and-forth through the streets of Downtown Modesto on any given summer weekend night.
And sooner or later, those teenagers are going to have to stop somewhere.
Sonic capitalized on this. It’s retro-chic drive-in style and unique menu blend of classic American fast-food coupled with frozen favorites right along the heart of the cruising drag make it a popular spot on Friday and Saturday nights.
Think of it as the modern A&W (which originated just up the road in Lodi) or the modern Mel’s Diner (the San Francisco location was used in George Lucas’ movie about his time growing up in Modesto).
But Modesto’s milkshake offerings go much deeper than that. When you have the hankering, here are a few places that you can’t miss:
•The Ice Cream Co. – As if the name didn’t already give it away, ice cream is what this place specializes in. Sundaes. Banana splits. And milkshakes – milkshakes in those classic v-shaped glasses served up on a doily-coaster with a straw that’s barely able to pull in the thick, viscous contents. Lots of places offer milkshakes, and lots of places are good at it. But they don’t make their own ice cream like this Modesto institution. You can pair it up with a burger and fries or a grilled cheese sandwich or any one of a number of classic diner dishes. Just make sure you come hungry and you’re willing to leave room for desert. 2401 E. Orangeburg Ste. 560,(209) 578-3112.
•Velvet Grill and Creamery – There’s nothing about this place that isn’t pure amazing. It’s popular with locals because of it’s food – the menu is extensive and will keep you staring at it for longer than you feel comfortable – but the creamery in the title isn’t just there because it sounds good. They’ve got milkshakes. A variety of frozen dairy treats actually, but their milkshakes are thick and flavorful and made with real ice cream – not the pre-fab stuff that you find at some restaurants that don’t want to put the time in to create something that will keep their customers coming back. Mint chocolate chip? They’ve got it. The classic Neapolitan flavors? They’ve got those too. It’s affordable and it’s fun and it’s a wonderful place to spend a relaxed evening with friends enjoying the treats that you know aren’t good for you. But isn’t that what life is for? 3250 Dale Road, (209) 527-2662.