Ah, a good milkshake. Creamy, cold and, like the blend it is, a mixture of flavors—chocolate syrup with vanilla ice cream or avocados pureed with just a touch of sugar. While I adore a good Neapolitan milkshake from In-N-Out, there are a couple of places in San Diego making milkshakes that stand tall above the rest.
For the traditional ice-cream shake with a vanilla ice-cream base, there's Beef 'N Bun Whistle Stop in El Cajon (2477 Fletcher Pkwy.). My friend Darlene, a fellow food blogger, happened upon this place and raved about the shakes. Since I can't resist the lure of a good shake, I drove to El Cajon. The strawberry shake, with its icy creaminess and pile of whipped cream, takes me back to childhood. Made with delicious vanilla ice cream and a perfect balance of strawberry chunks and syrup, the shake wasn't overwhelmingly sweet. There are multiple flavors available, including peanut butter.
When it comes to shakes that are so fresh and full of fruit that they're more like smoothies than shakes, Crazy Wheel Coffee, a “nomadic coffeehouse” (check crazywheelcoffee.com for its schedule), offers concoctions that are creamy and full of flavor. Since I prefer my shakes to be strawberry, I ordered a strawberry shake there, too. If I had to guess how the shake was made, it tasted like a cupful of ripe strawberries blended with just a hint of milk to smooth out the mixture. They freeze fresh strawberries, and the freshness is preserved in the pulverized bits of ice-cold berries.
Since my waistline does not permit sampling multiple shakes at once, I brought extra taste-testers. The avocado shake was delicious, along with the coffee cruncher. Crazy Wheel also offers flavors like ube, a purple yam, and coconut. Green mango, a tropical delicacy, has a sharp tartness and is mixed with equally sharp sweetened condensed milk.
Both establishments offer food to go with the shakes. Beef 'N Bun serves burgers and delicious burger-appropriate sides, while Crazy Wheel serves primarily Filipino dishes with a few other South Asian delicacies.