The Dish: It’s winter. We know. We’re hyper-aware, in fact. But you know what makes winter bearable? Milkshakes! They’re not only a super-amazing beverage, but they make your insides all warm and fuzzy, even though their main ingredient is straight out of the freezer. Two of Seattle’s milkshake mainstays are in West Seattle: Husky Deli and Luna Park Cafe. The shakes from both neighborhood sweet spots are downright legendary. But which is better?
The Rivals: Luna Park Cafe, 2918 S.W. Avalon Way, 935-7250. Mention this iconic West Seattle diner in conversation, and you’ll likely hear “They have the best milkshakes!” This isn’t just a passive statement, either: Luna Park really does do a world-class shake that’ll make you question the legitimacy of every shake you’ve had up to then. Don’t believe us? Take a seat at the Luna Park lunch counter and watch as the guy on mixer duty darts back and forth between the freezer and mixing stand. It’s exhausting! During the summer, Luna Park goes through about 40 gallons of vanilla Cascade Glacier ice cream per eight-hour shift. Even in winter, as we were perched at the bar, we watched as every single person who came through the doors ordered a shake. The vanilla shakes are simply made with ice cream and a few drops of vanilla extract (no milk) to create an incredibly smooth and creamy beverage. A layer of sweetness hits you after a few sips, courtesy of the extract and extra love. After being mixed in a steel container, the shake is then poured into a vintage soda-fountain glass and topped with cherries and whipped cream to make it look pretty. With the golden oldies playing on the jukebox, you’d swear you just entered a portal into the 1950s. A small shake is $3.75. A large is $1.20 more, but easily appeases the sweet tooths of two.
Husky Deli, 4721 California Ave. S.W., 937-2810. We love Husky Deli. It’s been an institution in our neighborhood for as long as we can remember. The family who runs the place is always friendly and loving, and they’ve managed to maintain their loyal following, even with newcomers like Bakery Nouveau moving into the Junction. The lines for Husky’s homemade ice cream are out the door when the sun is out. And when it’s not, they snake around the interior. That’s the good news. The bad news: We didn’t like our most recent vanilla milkshake. It was really, really disappointing. Like Luna Park, Husky Deli doesn’t add any milk to their milkshakes. Nor do they add drops of vanilla extract. Or whipped cream. Or cherries. Or anything else that remotely resembles TLC. Instead, the young girl behind the counter mixed our shake in the same paper cup it was served in. Our beat-up vessel was all sorts of dented and bent, and on top of that, only two-thirds full—completely unacceptable for $4. The disheveled shake looked almost as sad as we did when it was handed to us. The appearance set the tone for what was inside, a gritty concoction that was not smooth or creamy—at all. More than that, we didn’t care for the generally smoky taste of the vanilla ice cream. Because we hold Husky Deli in high regard, we’re going to assume this was just an off day.
The Champ: Do we really need to say it? We’ll pop Luna Park‘s cherry anytime.