Is there a better way to celebrate Milwaukee Day than with a nice scoop of frozen custard? We don't think so! (As with everything these days, call ahead as some places may be temporarily closed or have shortened hours due to coronavirus.)
It may be Brew City, but custard is no small matter in Milwaukee, where everyone has his or her own favorite stand. This, of course, may go a long way toward explaining our waistlines. But hey, what's the point of livin' if you can't enjoy custard every now and again.
Although it looks a lot like ice cream to an outsider, custard is made from cream and egg yolks and has considerably less air added than ice cream, which makes it more dense. And because it gets to your mouth before being refrozen, unlike ice cream, custard is creamier and softer than its more famous cousin.
We're not going to tell you which custard stand is the best because – as previously mentioned – it is clearly a matter of taste. But here is a list of some of the city's best-loved custard shops, in case you've missed a few on your quest for the cold, creamy comfort in a cone.
Adrian's Frozen Custard
572 Bridge St, Burlington (262) 763-8562
This custard stop, located in historic downtown Burlington serves fresh custard in a variety of flavors daily.
1247 N. Water St., (414) 221-9999
Best known for flipping some of the best burgers in town, AJ Bombers also dishes up frozen custard. Alas, the company has closed the Holey Moley location at Miller Park which had offered a range of sinfully tasty doughnut custard sandwiches.
N79 W14701 Appleton Ave., Menomonee Falls, (262) 251-6244
This Greek restaurant also offers up custard in Menomonee Falls.
Betty's Burgers and Custard
1233 E. Brady St., (414) 249-4972
This burger and custard place on the lower East Side runs Galloway's stalwart Classic Mix through a Taylor soft serve machine, which allows Betty to give you vanilla, chocolate AND twist. They also serve sundaes, shakes, dip cones and slush creams like the slush floats you used to get at Boy Blue.
Big Deal Burger
1440 S. 84th St., West Allis, (414) 774-4000
Living up to its name, the burgers and the custard servings at this West Allis place just across from State Fair Park are ginormous.
Bubba's Frozen Custard, Jumbo Burgers & Red Hots
1276 Capitol Dr., Pewaukee, (262) 695-8189
Order your favorite smooth and creamy custard then enjoy it outside during the summer.
8718 W. Lisbon Ave., (414) 462-6200
Sure, there's a giant bird on the catering truck and the name says chicken, but Champion Chicken is a great place for frozen custard, too.
777 E. Wisconsin Ave., Galleria Level, (414) 287-0303
The Bartolotta Restaurants has gotten into custard in a big way and this location, in the lobby of the U.S. Bank Center, is one of the only sources for custard in Downtown Milwaukee, along with AJ Bombers.
100 Hawthorne Ave., in Grant Park, South Milwaukee
Ferch's offers sandwiches, burgers and a daily fish fry in addition to its well-known custard, which is seems especially tasty at the beach.
Fred's Frozen Custard & Grill
4726 W. Vliet St. (414) 771-6270
For more than 40 years, folks have been frequenting this small neighborhood grill for great made-to-order carryout and delicious frozen custard. The shop – remodeled in spring 2020 under new ownership – also features jumbo burgers on brioche buns, Chicago-style hotdogs and Italian beef sandwiches. The custard has also gotten a big upgrade, from a mere 3.5 percent milkfat to a much more appropriate 10 percent.
Georgie Porgie's Treefort Restaurants
9555 S. Howell Ave., Oak Creek, (414) 571-9889
5502 Washington Ave., Mount Pleasant, (262) 635-5030
A place that offers tasty food, from classic burgers to super sundaes and kabobs, Georgie Porgie's has some of the best custard around. The Mount Pleasant location looks like a giant treehouse inside.
Gilles Frozen Custard
7515 W. Bluemound Rd., (414) 453-4875
So very little about Gilles has changed since Mr. Paul Gilles opened the custard stand in 1938, including just two ownership changes. It's old school to the bone, and still a regular stop for retired Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. Custard is king, of course, but we also love "Those Things," which are exclusive Gilles treats made with vanilla custard on top of a homemade peanut butter cookie and then dipped in chocolate, and served on a stick. Yea, baby. Good stuff.
Golden Gyros Frozen Custard
7233 W. Lincoln Ave., West Allis, (414) 541-7580
Try the flavor of the day, which is sure to be a mouth-watering creation like Caramel Chocolate Truffle or Cherry Amaretto. Yum!
3131 Main St., East Troy, (262) 642-2929
Have the carhops bring you burgers, sodas, malts and of course, custard!
1110 E. Oklahoma Ave., (414) 747-1103
In a former Boy Blue, Tim Nassiopoulos runs the little Gyros Stand Greek restaurant, which also serves custard, as well as slushies and other treats.
Hefner's Custard & Jumbo Hamburgers
N71 W5184 Columbia Road, Cedarburg, (262) 376-1020
Daily flavor specialties and a good place to feed your custard yen when hanging on the North Shore. Home to Huge Hefner burger.
Jumbo's Frozen Custard
1014 S. Main St., West Bend (262) 334-5400
This spot along the main drag in West Bend offers up soft, creamy custard and serves a fish fry daily. And, as would be expected, the burgers are jumbo.
N48 W36154 Wisconsin Ave., Oconomowoc, (262) 567-2648
The Scottish-themed drive-in has been a local landmark since it opened back in 1947. The place is now legendary, and still open only seasonally. Head over, grab a Kiltie Burger, a sundae and find out why some folks think "if it's not Kiltie, it's crap."
Kitt's Frozen Custard Drive-In
7000 W. Capitol Dr., (414) 461-1400
One of the city's oldest stands, Kitt's was opened in 1952 by father and son Harry and John Kittredge with the help of Leon Schneider. Butch Rydz, who has owned the stand since 2000, has been looking to retire and sell the place, but at press time it is still up and running.
5373 N. Port Washington Road, Glendale, (414) 961-3288 Flavor hotline: (414) 961-2006
7631 W. Layton Ave., Greenfield, (414) 282-4312 Flavor hotline: (414) 282-4080
18880 W. Bluemound Road, Brookfield, (262) 789-9490 Flavor hotline: (262) 789-1393
Kopp's has three locations that are always teeming with custard-craving crowds, and their butter burgers are legendary. The folks to beat in the custard game.
Kraverz Frozen Custard
15325 Main St, Menomonee Falls (262) 255-5728
Custard, hot dogs and specialty sandwiches are the name of the game at this Menomonee Falls joint. Unlike most stands, Kraverz features a drive-through for busy customers.
LeDuc's Frozen Custard
240 W. Summit Ave., Wales (262) 968-2894
LeDuc’s Frozen Custard opened for business in 1980 and quickly became Waukesha’s favorite place to stop for frozen custard, charbroiled burgers and specialty sandwiches.
Leon's Frozen Custard
3131 S. 27th St., (414) 383-1784
Leon's is THE Milwaukee custard stand. Still a family-owned business, three generations of the Schneider family have served custard and drive-in food to hungry Milwaukeeans.
Mickey's Fresh Frozen Custard
675 Grand Ave., Hartford, (262) 670-2663
Walking up to Mickey's is like walking back in time. The vintage stand still has its classic look and the custard is delish. The place is also popular with classic car collectors, so you'll often find the lot full of gorgeous old Mustangs and other gems. New owners took over, revamped the place after a fire in June 2020, and reopened on July 1.
2272 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr. (414) 727-4886
This beachside custard stand was formerly Bartolotta Restaurant Group'ss Northpoint Custard and Burgers, but is now operated by the family that runs Casablanca on Brady. Stop by to check out the cow-themed picnic tables and benches and stick around for burgers and wings – and more – plus, of course, frozen custard.
12505 W. Burleigh Rd., Brookfield, (262) 814-6873
Murf's serves up big burgers on the eastern edge of Brookfield, just a block from Briggs & Stratton. With a little outdoor patio, is the perfect location for a quick cone, big sundae or juicy burger.
Main concourse, General Mitchell International Airport
This custard and burger stand is operated by the Bartolotta Restaurant Group in the main concourse of the MKE airport. Stop by for the best burger and custard before you jet off from Milwaukee, or as soon as you get back in town.
2362 S. 108th St., West Allis, (414) 327-5220
21165 Highway 18, Waukesha, (262) 798-9707
7041 S. 27th St., Franklin, (414) 304-8700
Flavor hotline: (414) 327-5768
This West Allis place may look like a barn, but don't judge a custard stand by its cover. Oscar's three locations offer custard in a vintage setting in West Allis, a glitzy post-modern version in Waukesha and a new place this year in Franklin.
Out & Out
W61 N305 Washington Ave., Cedarburg, (262) 377-5515
Originally opened in a former Dairy Queen, the owners built a brand spanking new stand in 2013 with indoor seating. The custard's great and the food is good – and a little different than what you'll find at most custard stands, with wraps and other options, in addition to the more typical burger fare.
Pop's Frozen Custard
N87 W16459 Appleton Ave., Menomonee Falls, (262) 251-3320
Nothing says summer like a Red Raspberry Custard from Pops. Other daily flavors include classic chocolate and vanilla or oreo cream.
Robert's Frozen Custard
N112 W16040 Mequon Rd., Germantown, (262) 250-1683
Expect to find familiar favorites like Rocky Road and Cookies & Cream alongside tempting treats like Chocolate Cream Puff Delight and Raspberry Custard Torte.
220 E. Buffalo St., (414) 509-1080
Big-time restaurateur Danny Meyer, whose roots are in St. Louis – Ted Drewes' territory – finally brought his New York-based Shake Shack custard and burger chain to the custard capital of the world in 2017. It appears to be doing a bang-up business, so I'm going to go ahead and tell Milwaukee's custard kings, "I told you Downtown needed a custard stand." Shake Shack bucks Cream City custard tradition by hiding its machines in back (even custard creators the Kohr Brothers urged purveyors to put the gleaming stainless steel machines center-stage where customers could see them), and adds Ted Drewes' focus on concretes (though you can get cones and sundaes) to the local mix.
540 Hartbrook Dr., Hartland, (262) 367-7120
Bring quarters to play the arcade games while you enjoy your custard in this place out in the western suburbs.
Toucan Food & Custard
600 N. Main St., West Bend (262) 338-8444
This hot spot just north of downtown West Bend is conveniently located next to Regner Park, so you can grab your custard and take a walk over and enjoy playgrounds, nature trails and even a beach and splash pad.
Uncle Harry's Frozen Custard
100 S. Jefferson St., Waterford (262) 534-4757
Located in a 1935 Phillips 66 filling station, Uncle Harry's – which opened in 1985 – sells house made frozen custard and sorbet. Under new ownership as of 2019, Uncle Harry’s also sells pints, quarts and half gallons at some local retailers.
Wholly Cow Frozen Custard
637 Main St., Delafield, (262) 646-2555
While custard is the name of the game at "The Cow," the bigger allure is that the joint is owned by the parents of Julie Stoffer, from Real World!
Of course, there are chains – like Culver's – that serve the cold stuff, but with so many hometown options, you'll only need to know about those when you're on the road....
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.