The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Milkshakes

avalonmilk.jpg
Photo by Carla Soriano
Milkshakes at Avalon Diner are served up with a slice of nostalgia.
For the next 20 weeks, we'll be rounding up the runners-up to our 2011 Best of Houston® winners. In many categories, picking each year's winner is no easy task. We'll be spotlighting 20 of those categories, in which the winner had hefty competition from other Houston bars and restaurants.

Milkshakes -- otherwise known as ice-cold, creamy, dreamy goodness in a cup -- are grand. Whether you drink (eat?) them as a dessert, side dish, meal, beverage, treat or dip for french fries, it's really hard not to like love them.

For this very reason, finding Houston's top milkshakes was an endeavor more challenging than it sounds. Lucky for you, we completed the agonizing task of sampling countless shakes to bring you a list of the best. So, without further ado, the cream of the crop of Houston's milkshakes:

10. Avalon Diner
If you're looking for a wonderful old-fashioned milkshake, you'd be foolish not to seek it out at Avalon Diner. This no-frills mom-and-pop restaurant, which has been in business since 1938, is the real deal: a diner that serves nostalgia-inducing food with a heavy dose of Southern hospitality, all reminiscent of the good ol' days.

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Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
Drinking a milkshake at The Counter's counter makes sense.
Avalon's thick milkshakes come with the mixing can in tow, which only makes you feel more like you're in the 1930s. For tradition's sake, don't rush the lunch or dinner milkshake run to Avalon; sit back, relax and enjoy sipping on a shake along with some friendly conversation with the elderly, overall-clad customers or the grinning fifty-something waitresses, aprons and all.

9. The Counter
The Counter is a modern-day burger joint that still has that laid-back, diner-like feel. The large namesake counter is an ideal spot for pulling up a bar stool and downing a shake. Try their peanut butter variety, as it's a flavor you won't find just anywhere. The Counter makes this shake with just the right amount of peanut butter. And just like The Counter's yummy burgers and fries, their milkshakes come in generous portions - consider sharing it. Or not, if you like generous portions of simple perfection.

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Photo by Carla Soriano
Potbelly milkshakes come with two mini shortbread cookies inserted in the straw.
P.S. - if you're one of those people who like to dunk their fries into their milkshakes, this a good spot to do it. The Counter's shoestring french fries are always served hot and with just the right amount of crisp; they're perfect vessels for transporting milkshake deliciousness from cup to mouth.

8. Potbelly
There are lots of reasons to love the milkshakes at this affordable sandwich shop with multiple Houston locations. First things first - the size. It's easily hand-held, perfect for taking to go, making it one of the most easily drink-able shakes in town. Yes, we know that everything is typically bigger in Texas, but who said that milkshakes have to be, too? Another plus to Potbelly milkshakes is that should you choose one of the fruit flavors - strawberry, mixed berry, or banana -- the fruit used is all natural. Finally, see those two rings around the straw? They're two mini shortbread cookies, baked in house -- the delicious little cookies are a little treat on top of your drinkable treat.

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Photo by Carla Soriano
Häagen-Dazs ice cream is the high-quality ingredient that makes all the difference in Smashburger's shakes.

7. Smashburger
Häagen-Dazs ice cream is one of the most premium brands of ice cream in the world, and it's the use of this top-notch stuff -- known for its dense, buttery texture -- that sets Smashburger's milkshakes apart from others. Even after being mixed into the milkshake, the ice cream holds extremely well, even under the Texas sun. And in a city as hot as Houston, bonus points are due to the milkshake that can hold its own in the heat. Just another reason to love the already likeable Smashburger.

6. Amy's Ice Cream
Considering that milkshakes are made up of few ingredients and that ice cream is one of their core components, it's almost a no-brainer that Amy's Ice Cream makes the list of the best milkshakes in Houston. You see, the delightful ice cream served up to customers in scoops and cones at Amy's -- which comes in mouth-watering flavors that range from classic to alcoholic to eccentric -- also goes into their milkshakes. You get to choose which flavor of ice cream will flavor your shake and add ingredients regularly used as "crushn's" and toppings (candy, cookies, nuts, and fresh fruits and syrups).

Location Info

Venue

Map

The Counter

4601 Washington Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Potbelly Sandwich Works

1200 McKinney St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Smashburger

5220 Buffalo Speedway, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Amy's Ice Creams

3816 Farnham, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

The Burger Guys - CLOSED

12225 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Reef

2600 Travis St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Katz's Deli and Bar

616 Westheimer St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers

3501 W. Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Little Bigs

2703 Montrose, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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11 comments
Kjsmith32
Kjsmith32

I have just returned from a milkshake binge that took about 3 hours and hit 4 of the top 10. Here is my order: 4) Jerry Built. While this was my last stop and I was really feeling the effects of the other 3 by this point, I was disappointed in the quality of the shake. I was really hoping for a stronger gingerbread taste but it seemed to get lost somehow.  3) Katz. This was a delicious shake, intensely sweet and thick. However, it was so rich that I couldn't enjoy it for very long. That is to be expected from a shake with an entire slice of cheesecake inside I suppose.  2) Potbelly. It was simple and sweet, creamy and delicious. Very well balanced and the perfect size. I had the strawberry and it wasn't too strong on the strawberry side or the cream side. I felt like Goldilocks finding the baby bear shake where everything was just right.  1) Little Big. Just so so good. They have this shake down to a science and can whip it out in seconds. I have now had the Butterscotch and the Chocolate. What's so great about it is that you want another one right when you are finished.  In conclusion, I ranked these based on the probability that I will return. I won't be going back for a Jerry Built, a Katz is something I'd like to share with about 4 or 5 other people some time in the future, I'd like to return to Potbelly soon and try their other flavors, and Little Big is a place I'll be taking friends and visitors to for months to come. Starting tomorrow. 

Dustin Kalman
Dustin Kalman

Houston's, now known as Hillstone, used to have an awesome banana milkshake. I think they took it off the menu a long time ago. I haven't forgotten it though.

ragazzo_texano
ragazzo_texano

The Mexican chocolate shake at Goode Co. Taqueria is one of those things I dream about in my long stretches away from home.

GiadaD
GiadaD

Ritter's!

Why settle for mere ice cream in shakes, when you can have frozen custard?

Terry Alexander
Terry Alexander

Give me a malt over a shake any day. Although there are some good arguments above for crossing over to the dark side.TA

Guest
Guest

What?! No Hank's?!!!

Cat
Cat

You know what my pet peeve is? A "chocolate" shake that is vanilla ice cream w/chocolate syrup. Yuk! Chocolate shakes should be made with chocolate ice cream. Period. 

DevlinK
DevlinK

I'm up for trying Katz's Cheesecake shake! The cheesecake would provide a little sharpness, the perfect foil to the sweetness of a shake. Ingenious!!

Urban Swank
Urban Swank

You hit about five of my favorites on this list...what are the odds. I guess a great shake is a great shake. Beck's Prime has a pretty good shake too. I feel in love with the Salted Caramel shake at The Burger Guys a few weeks back. It is shameful really that something could be that good. I am so glad my lactose intolerance hasn't kicked in 100% yet! ~ UG

Carla Soriano
Carla Soriano

Milkshakes are one of those things that are worth seeking lactose intolerant medicines for! And I think you're right...a good shake is a good shake, so no coincidence on lots of our faves matching up :) I did like the shake at Beck's Prime but didn't think it was quite at the caliber of all of the above. Thanks for reading! 

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