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Frozen Custard in SoCal -- Pier Burger

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I read about this place on a food blog and tried to go a couple of weeks ago, but I wasn't going to shell out 8 bucks for parking at the Santa Monica Pier, and I didn't find any open meter parking nearby. So today I was having my car serviced at a dealer that had a shuttle and it was too early for a DineLA lunch, so I decided to have them leave me off nearby. Service very friendly, nice day, so I began with a single cheeseburger and fries. Burger was good -- meat loosely formed, well-charred, soft bun, american cheese, thin slice of tomato and crisp leaf of iceberg. Fries also good -- thin but thicker than McD's, crisp, salted, some skins still on. With a cup of ice-water (a bit miffed that the bill showed $.23 for a cup), tax, and a small tip for counter service I was in for about that parking charge.

Saved room for that frozen custard for dessert. Those of us who grew up in or visit St. Louis are familiar with Ted Drewe's, the happiest place in town on a summer night -- particularly after a Cardinal's win -- and the soft frozen custard they serve as sundaes or particularly as "concretes," which are like thick shakes sans milk with mix-ins, that can be turned upside-down (briefly!) without spilling. They offer concretes at Pier Burger, and I ordered a chocolate without any mix-ins, which sort of flummoxed my server. What I received was rich, thick (as thick as soft-serve ice cream -- thicker than a Wendy's Frosty) and delicious -- very satisfying. $4.50 + tax for what appeared to be a 16-oz cup.

Here is a previous thread from last fall: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/814781

I wasn't watching closely, but I saw scoops (or at least I'm sure I saw scoopers) rather than a soft-serve dispenser. I know my concrete was mixed in a shake mixer.

I would splurge on one of these tasty treats and indulge in hometown nostalgia pretty often, if not for the expense of parking or the inconvenience of a longish walk. But if you find yourself near the Santa Monica Pier, off Ocean Ave. at the foot of Colorado in Santa Monica, this is where to find good frozen custard with the demise of Lickety Split and other purveyors, may they rest in delicious peace.

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  1. so it reminded you of ted drewe's or more like just a thicker wendy's frosty?

    just want to make how sure how good it is from a standpoint of relativity whether i should make the trek there too.

    i agree that it's a troublesome and inconvenient to go to the pier with the tourist crowds, parking situation, etc.

    1. Thanks for posting. When they first opened, they were making custard from a soft serve machine, not a custard maching. The manager there told me they were going to have a real custard machine in place of the soft serve. This weekend I dropped by, and they were scooping custard from an ice cream style vat. the custard is shipped from Wisconsin, therefore not made here. As I quizzed the servers, it was obvious they had no idea how custard is made or traditionally served. Hopefully they still plan to bring in the custard machines. But the sample I got was pretty authentic. I'm definitely making it a regular thing. No one else in LA serves real custard that I know of.

      There is a small parking lot just below the pier next to Hot Dog on a Stick for $1.00 an hour, but that too gets pretty crowded. You just pay a $1 or two, place the reciept on your dashboard, and you're good to go.

      I like the burgers there as well.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Ogawak

        Ogawak, I noticed your contributions to the earlier thread. Connections to St. Louis, or Milwaukee perhaps?

        If I could park for a buck and not have an exhausting walk, I'd go more frequently and bring friends to turn on. I have NO idea where Hot Dog on a Stick is. Can you access from Ocean and Colorado or do you have to be going south on PCH? Detailed directions please...

        The first time I tried I ended up in a no-exit line into the 8-dollar lot and had to plead to leave without paying.

        1. re: nosh

          I really love custard, enjoyed lickity split when it was around and consider Strickland's to be the best version of custard in LA even though it doesn't have egg in their recipe. never having the chance to try great custard back East, the best custard I've had is Nielsen's and Luv It in Las Vegas. By the way, Strickland's does hold firm upsidedown.

          The parking lot can be accessed from Ocean Ave at a little street called Seaside Terrace, just south of the Pier and the exit from PCH. Bruno's is on that corner. Go straight down Seaside and the parking lot will be on the right.

          I think this shipped-in custard is just a backup plan until they get their custard machines installed. The first step was getting the soft serve machines out, then retrofitting the kitchen to accomodate the new machines.

          In the meantime, this substitute custard will work out just fine.

          1. re: Ogawak

            I seemed to recall that they turned that lot into an employee parking lot, but I could be wrong. Have you used that lot recently?

            1. re: PeterCC

              That was a temporary situation because of the Cirque Du Soleil tent in the main parking lot. It's available now for public use.

              1. re: Ogawak

                if it's shipped in from wisconsin that's even better than having it right here. besides, i don't know anywhere else in town that's serving real frozen custard, and if they are shipping it in, it's still real, right ?

                i'll have to check it out too, i wish soon, but sadly i don't have the time right now to walk a series of blocks to get there due to the pretty horrendous parking situation.

                1. re: kevin

                  Actually if done right, you want to eat it within a few hours after it's made. So I'm looking forward to Pier Burger making their own. But this shipped in stuff will work just fine.

        2. re: Ogawak

          I'm from Milwaukee... might just have to go give this one a try. :)

        3. Bruxie has a pretty excellent frozen custard. They only have locations outside of LA, but worth diverting for if you're in the area.

          2 Replies
          1. re: wanderlustre

            what other locales besides orange do gthey have now in oc ? thanks.

            1. re: kevin

              From their website...

              Rancho Santa Margarita
              22205 El Paseo, Suite A
              RSM, CA 92688
              Open Daily
              Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
              949.207.6570

              Brea Downtown
              215 W. Birch Street
              Brea, CA 92821
              9am - 9pm Sun - Wed
              9am - 10pm Thur - Sat
              714.255.1188