Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lexington and University DQ - 2nd Chance!

University and Lexington --Revisited

As I mentioned the first time I reviewed this Lexington Ave Dairy Queen, it was one of my favorites.  I liked the owner who knew that on special occasions that I switched to the Chocolate Dip Cone.  We'd chat when times were slow.  It was a pleasant association.

I also predicted that the owner must have sold the place since the teenagers who were running the place were completely unfit for customer service.  Tonight, I went back to see if perhaps folks were having an off day.

I was encouraged to find that the owner that I knew from years ago was working the window.  Could it be that things were just like they were in the good ol' days?  

No!  These are not the good ol' days.  The owner gave me a floppy, over-marshmellowy, wussy cone.  I almost said to her, "Are you serious? What happened to you?"

I swear I saw that she recognized me from before and her expression seemed one of apology.  Apology accepted and I hope you can turn things around.

On the plus side, Pumpkin Blizzards!  I will try one before the month is out.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Rice Street -2 stores - By Phalen and by Arlington

Sorry about the lack of identifiers for this post, but it was kind of a drive by experience. My friend, Greg Page, said there were a couple DQs on Rice Street, that might be worth a look.  

The one closest to the Capital on Rice St, just south of Arlington is a cute little walk-up DQ.  Cute except for the packing tape over the cracks in the front window.  Not really the nicest DQ in the system, but it is the one closest to the Capital!  This must be where the Governor goes for his DQ.  I bet I know which White Castle he goes to as well.

Small cone - $1.39
Medium - $1.59
Large - $1.99
Peanut Buster Parfait - $3.29

The cone was overfluffed and had none of the awesome DQ consistency.  I ate it quickly in my car, disappointed, but not unexpectedly so--they didn't really take care of their DQ.  Points off for not respecting themselves.

I kept driving north on Rice St to the Phalen neighborhood.  This DQ was decked out with a nice drive thru, but I don't think it was a Grill and Chill.  Prices were slightly higher:

Small Cone - $1.39
Medium - $1.79...higher
Large - $1.99
Peanut Buster Parfait - $3.69...higher.

I don't know what their cones are like.  I just had one 4 minutes earlier and I was on my way to dinner in an hour or so. So they missed out.  I bet it would have been awesome.  They took much better care of their store.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Edina--An Unexpected Deal?

There is a Dairy Queen by the DQ headquarters in Edina, MN (77th and Hwy 100).  I'm usually not a big fan of this store since it is a training store and service is inconsistent.  My coworkers go there for breakfast, which I also think is weird, but their bacon and eggs look pretty good.

I went there twice this week.  I haven't been trying new DQs and had some withdrawal symptoms (crabbiness, weight loss), and needed my some soft serve.

On Monday there was a bit of a mix up with whether or not my medium cone was "for here or to go."  Since they were not going to put it in a bag, I didn't think there was any difference in my options. Anyway, blah, blah, blah--I get a large cone instead of a medium.  Saw-weeet!  

I figured this was because the trainee was giving me a hard time and the manager wanted to make things cool.  It worked.

Wednesday, still symptomatic, I stop by again, this time just for a small cone.  The same manager gives me a medium?  I know because I was watching which  cone dispenser she pulled from.

Is this a gem of a find, does someone there think I'm too cute to get only what I paid for, or does someone know I blog about my DQ experiences for the world.  I'm okay with any of these options.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blaine DQ - sm cone still $1.19, still awesome

I went back to the DQ in Blaine on Hwy 65 this week.  They have the lowest prices of the DQs I have reviewed so far and I am going back frequently to see if they are still awesome.

They are.  Excellent cone.  Excellent service.  Excellent price.

But don't get a hot dog there.  They microwave the dog after you order it and microwave it pre-mustarded and pre-bunned.  That negates the reason why you have a bun in the first place--to be able to hold onto to something that is hot.

I suggest sticking with Frankie's on Broadway Ave in NE Mpls for your hot dog needs.  Or Super America.  I've had a good dog or two there as well.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Lake Josephine DQ - Lexington Ave $1.69 sm cone

The Dairy Queen on Lexington Ave across from Lake Josephine in Roseville is a destination DQ, like the DQ by Minnehaha Falls in Mpls.  You go there because it's right by where you are at anyways.

It's probably good that it is right across from this beautiful lake, because this DQ was not very good on this particular night.  I was not there because of the beach.  

I went there at about dusk, and it is only about 50 degrees, but there were other people at the beach this night.  There was a young couple walking and holding hands, and there was a pedophilish looking overweight adult on the swings, killing time.  There was even a few people fishing off the dock.

This DQ has a drive thru and an enormous parking lot and quite a bit of outdoor seating.  Nice place.

The boy who took my order seemed a bit rushed.  He tossed together a small, mis-shaped, over-marshmellowy mess of a small cone and practically dashed away to do something I couldn't see.  My guess is that it was an off day on many counts and that a visit this weekend would give me a perfectly normal cone.  But this is my blog and they only get one shot since they won't be in the running for best DQ.  

The prices break down like this:
Small Vanilla Cone: $1.69
Medium: $2.09
Large: $2.49
Peanut Buster Parfait: $4.09

Overall, prices are above average.  The aggregate cost for one each is over $10.00--less than 30% of the stores reviewed so far cost more than $10.00 for one each of the review items.

Just to compare: Blaine (Hwy 65) charges only $8.05 for three cones and a PBP.  Lake Josephine DQ charges $10.36.  

Shop wisely, and avoid panic buying.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lakeville DQ - Kenwwod Tr - sm cone $1.59

After a lovely visit to Northfield for the day, I and my lovely wife, Sally, drove back home to the Twin Cities.  This was part of the anniversary fun we had planned for the weekend.  It is out 6 year anniversary and certainly must include DQ.

Saw, the DQ sign from Hwy 35 and made my stop.  I liked this DQ.  It had a sun room, kinda like the old Rax restaurants used to have.  In the display case against one wall, I saw little plastic cones and dilly bars.  I don't know if this stuff is in kid's meals, but if it is, I may soon be pretending I have a screaming little one in the car demanding a bit of DQ for the road.

Service here was good.  The cashiers joked around with each other as they did some prep work.  People seemed happy.  (Is anyone at DQ not happy?  It is hard for me, as an outsider, to image so).

Prices were average to a bit expensive.

Small Vanilla Cone: $1.59
Medium: $2.09
Large: $2.49
Peanut Buster Parfait: $3.79

The cone was standard in regards to size but had the perfect flavor.  Long after I was done eating did I comment to my brain, "Damn, that was a fiiiiine cone!"

Sunday, August 24, 2008

White Bear Lake: Cup and Cone

Why did I not know about this place?  The Cup and Cone is located on 4th St, West of Hwy 61 in the Center of DT White Bear Lake.  It is a DQ rival that really gives DQ a proper challenge.

The White Bear Lake Dairy Queen, has the cheapest small cone that I have found so far--$1.09--and now I know why: A small cone at Cup N Cone is $.94!

Cup and Cone Stats:
small vanilla/choc/lemon cone: $.94
Medium: $1.41
Large: $1.71

In addition to these fabulous prices, they will blend Oreos, Butterfingers, and other typical Blizzard toppings right into your soft serve and make you a cone.  I think this costs an additional $.25 for a small cone.

I ordered two items on my trip there this weekend (for the sake of research). First, I tasted the lemon soft serve.  It tastes a bit off, but children might like it for its novelty.  Then I ordered a plain vanilla cone.  It was a huge cone, at least the size of a typical medium DQ.  Texture and consistency was excellent, but the flavor was not quite as good as a DQ cone when DQ is on it's game (see previous posts about cones being too icy or too marshmellowy).  Overall, though it was an excellent cone.

Wife Sally, ordered a chocolate ice cream with carmel sauce.  The carmel is better than DQ--not as sweet--and the chocolate ice cream tastes more chocolately.  Too bad for DQ.

Third, from the previous paragraph, I went back and ordered a vanilla Oreo dipped sundae.  The Oreos were whipped into the vanilla ice cream and then dipped into a chocolate like a DQ dipped cone, but the chocolate froze and was actually a bit hard to eat.  Points off for the chocolate dip which was nowhere near the excellent quality of the DQ dipped cone, but plus points for the Oreo whipped into the ice cream without my having to order a Blizzard.  It was a fun experience.

What also made it a fun experience was the fact that all of the people who waited on me were some of the friendliest and helpful people I have ever met getting a cone.  Server #1 gave me recommendations and promised things would be better than DQ.  Everyone else seemed equally happy to be there.  I felt good being there myself.

Weirdly enough, I then went back to the order window to order a submarine sandwich. It was okay.  They used sub-par bread.  Jimmy John's still rules in this category.

In conclusion, White Bear Lake is the place to go for ice cream.  It has an inexpensive DQ (The Robbinsdale DQ is still the most expensive small cone in the system at $1.89), and it also has the wonderful Cup and Cone which I highly recommend.  The town is cute and on the weekends seems very shopper friendly--lots of restaurants and non-chain clothing stores.  Check it out for yourself. 

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Blaine DQ Follow up and New Coon Rapids Review

I went back to the Blaine DQ on HWY 65 because it is in the running for best DQ in the Twin Cities Metro Area.  The small cone is $1.19, which is more expensive than the White Bear Lake DQ at $1.09, but the aggregate cost is still less.

My cone was a bit mal-formed, but delicious, just the right blend of icy and marshmellowy.  

The small cone was average sized, so, no points lost or gained.

Later in the day I went to the DQ on Coon Rapids Blvd in Coon Rapids with my parents.  Small cones here are Free!  Actually, my dad paid, which is very cool.

Small vanilla cone: $1.59
Medium: $1.99
Large: $2.39
Peanut Buster Parfait: $3.79 (Though they are on sale this month for $2.49!)

My cone was on the small-to average size, not very impressive.  My mom ordered a chocolate dipped cone, but got a chocolate ice cream cone instead--there may have been some confusion in the ordering--but they made everything right by giving her a new cone and not charging her the increase in price.

My dad had a banana cream pie Blizzard and was a bit surprised that it came with whipped cream.  Both said their ice cream delights were good.  Mine was good, too.  I just was not impressed with the volume of ice cream in a small cone.

The Coon Rapids Dairy Queen is one of those old barn-style DQ's, which I totally dig for my Brazier stores. The interior had those really tacky duck paintings on the  wall, which I really think is inexcusable for any type of decor.  Anywhere.

Blaine DQ

Coon Rapids DQ

An interesting thing to note is that both the Blaine and Coon Rapids DQs have  similar signs.  One point goes out farther than the other.  There are differences, as you can see--one is a solid color, and one has a white edge--but they are similar enough that I think it is an exciting coincidence.

Also, if you have not seen your local DQ reviewed here, please let me know,  I want to review your DQ, but have hit almost all the ones I find and I go about my life.  I also welcome quest reviews--just be sure to get the prices for sm/med/large cones and a PBP.  Thanks for your continued interest and support. - Mike

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Forest Lake DQ - Hwy 61 - Sm Cone $1.49

Forest Lake DQ

My grandparents lived in Forest Lake, so there was no extended visit that took place without a trip to the DQ about a mile south of their home.  I remember this being a tiny DQ that had a wooden porch or something in from of it.  Perhaps it did 35 years ago, or I am combining this memory with the porch in front of the house where Navin Johnson lived before he made his way in the world in The Jerk.

This was a big DQ, large enough to accommodate a softball team or two.  It's a Brazier store, which I like more than Grill and Chills.  Grill and Chills seem too much like a Burger King to me.

My done was a good size, a bit taller than average.  It was icey, but well within the acceptable range of the Icey/Marshmellow Continuum.  

My wife, Sally, is a bit sick of DQ, and she requested some non-DQ ice cream before we left town.  There was a tiny, fancy looking ice cream shop a bit closer to DT Forest Lake, but it was closed.  Also, the relatively new and fancy ice cream shop next to the lake in the center of town is out of business--making way for a Snap Fitness of all things.  I only hope that it was put out of business by DQ.  This other ice cream shop was the site of Skateland, the roller rink my grandparents owed.

Anyways, please keep ice cream alive in Forest Lake and shop at the DQ.

Small Vanilla Cone: $1.49
Medium: $1.99
Large: $2.39
Peanut Buster Parfait: $3.79

(And for the family who might be reading...the grandparents' home, cottage, and even GG's home is gone and landscaped over.  There is no sign of the old place.  It's rather sad).

White Bear Lake DQ - Hwy 61- Small Cone $1.09

Can anyone beat a $1.09 Small Dairy Queen Cone?

That's right!  $1.09 for a small DQ cone.  And look at the size of that cone.  It looks as big as their sign.  It's not really, but it is easily as tall as some medium or even large cones in the Twin Cities metro area.  It was a bit overly fluffed, not quite the right moisture content, but if the 2nd and 3rd visits give me a cone that has a bit more ice content, then this is a good contender for best cone in the DQ system for the price.

Small Vanilla Cone: $1.09
Medium: $1.59
Large: $1.99
Peanut Buster Parfait: $3.79
(Did you know that during August, the PBP is only $2.49 at all stores?)

I like this store, in part, because when you drive up is it surrounded by tall white tanks used for some unknown purpose.  You'll see what I mean when you go there.

The White Bear Lake Dairy Queen also offers an individual sized DQ Cake which they call a cupcake.  $2.99 for this one and is the same as their full sized cake, but to scale.

If this is your DQ of choice, I'd be interested in your feedback as to whether or not this should be the best DQ in the system,  Was it just an off day that my cone was too fluffy?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

New Brighton - 4th St and Old HWY 8 - Scam Alert

No photo with this post because I don't want this store to get any additional sales from having an attractive image on my blog.  I ordered the small cone for $1.39 - an excellent price- except that THEY GAVE ME A KID'S CONE INSTEAD!!!!!!

It was a good sized cone, but they used the smaller and narrower cone.  I felt cheated.  I don't know if the cones are one step too small up the line, but if you live near to this store, make a trip down Hwy 8 to St. Anthony for a much better DQ experience.

Kid's Cone (small):  $1.39
Medium: $1.69
Large: $1.99
Peanut Buster Parfait: $3.49

Sunday, July 27, 2008

U of M DQ - Washington and Oak St. - $1.69

If I was going to the University of Minnesota, I'd eat my meals at Bona Vietnamese, and have dessert at DQ a block away on Washington.  For those who cannot tell, I like the DQ.

This is a no frills DQ--just a place to stand to give your order, maybe one or two tables, and that's about it.  When I ordered, The music was loud and appropriately alternative, most likely channeling The Current.  The workers were cleaning stuff up and took a few moments before they noticed me.  In the meantime, I noticed that they served personal-sized DQ cakes.  This is a magical idea.  Keep the gel frosting off it and I'm buying one regularly.

I ordered my usual small cone ($1.69) and watched the server lady make my cone.  The cone machine sputtered out white fluff.  My cone ended up being the oddest shape:

The Cone Artist asked if I wanted my mal-formed cone or if she could try again.  I took the mal-formed cone because it was funny looking and wanted to take a picture.  It was a pretty bad cone--too fluffy.  In talking to my father about my reviews, he said he doesn't like when the ice cream doesn't seem cold--that's what was going on here.  There was not enough moisture content for the appropriate chill.  I don't know why this happens, but I'd prefer it didn't.

Still, If I were a U of M student, I'd give them a second chance to do things right.

Small vanilla cone: $1.69
Medium: $1.99
Large: $2.29

Monday, July 21, 2008

DQ on HWY 55 near HWY169 - $1.79

Hwy 55 East of Hwy 169 in Golden Valley

Maybe because it was a seriously hot day, or maybe because it was a weekend and I really like weekends, but The Dairy Queen on Hwy 55 in Golden Valley in the little strip mall near the Pancheros and the Starbucks had some excellent ice cream cones.  Both Wife Sally and I commented how it may have been the best cone we've had.

I've reviewed 19 stores since May, and sometimes I go to DQ just for fun and not review at all.  It takes a really good cone for me to say, "This is a really good cone."

What made it so good? I don't know because I don't know how they are made.  But it was dense--something I appreciate on a hot day.  It wasn't too marshmellowy nor icey.  I was a good enough size to not feel cheated.

I have not been to any strip mall DQs before.  I know there is one by the U of M, but that review is coming later.  I like how they look.  Lots of metal and white walls.  Some DQ's, like the Crystal Grill and Chill, go for a nostalgia with old photos of old DQs.  The metal and white layout is a nice change of pace and gives me the chance to pretend that I am having a small vanilla cone in the future, but far enough in the future that its retro design gives the feel of 2008.

Small Vanilla Cone: $1.79 (Ouch.  A little pricey)
Medium: $2.09
Large: $2.39
Peanut Buster Parfait: $4.09
$10.36 Aggregate cost

And When you are done with your cone, head down the road a couple blocks to the National Camera Exchange.  You won't be sorry for long!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

DQ Double Post: Fridley and Excelsior/Hwy 100 - $1.69

(Read the end of this post for follow up reviews for the Heights Theatre and W 7th St in St. Paul)

Both the Fridley and the Excelsior Ave DQ stores have the same price for their core items:

Small vanilla cone: $1.69
Medium: $2.19
Large: $2.59
Peanut Buster Parfait: $4.19
Aggregate: $10.66

Both of these stores are also the fancy DQ Grill and Chills. I went to Fridley first. This store is on Osborne Road between East River Rd and Central Ave. The main thing it has going for it is that all of the outside picnic tables are in the shade in a grassy area--That's how you want to eat your Dairy Queen cone!

The prices are a bit high, but I am now expecting that from my Grill and Chills (Though you should still notice that the most expensive DQ reviewed so far is the stand-alone shop in Robbinsdale).

The cone was average, which is to say "Excellent."  but there was nothing remarkable about it.  It wasn't too small or too large, too icy or to fluffy.  Just a good ice cream cone.

The Excelsior Ave (Hwy 3) Store is next to the strip mall just East of Hwy 100.  It's a fancy Grill and Chill.  It seems fancier than some of the others.  Their outside area was in a fenced off section of the parking lot, which is fine, but picnic tables in the grass is better, no?

They had a huge line the whole time I was there.  They must be doing something right.

I broke with my tradition of getting a small cone and instead got a chocolate sundae. Wife Sally got the caramel sundae.  Do you people have any idea how sweet a caramel sundae is?   I could not tolerate it.  The chocolate sundae was good and had a base of fine quality ice cream.

At this point I have been eating enough DQ cones now that I know when a cone meets or fails to meet the standard for DQ cones (as determined by me).  I love DQ cones and am usually quite pleased with what is served to me.  

I also know that there are a lot of factors which go into making a good cone.  Watch for future posts with a former DQ employee for the inside scoop.  I also know that any store can have an off day.
For instance, the highly rated W 7th St. Paul DQ received high marks this spring for their awesome cone; this weekend, my cone there was much too soft and they would have received low marks this time around.

For another instance, The pooooorrrrrlllyy rate Heights DQ on Central Ave previously served me a cone that barely meet the criteria for being a cone, it was so mushy, let alone the criteria for a DQ cone.  But this weekend they served my up an excellent cone with friendly service to me and the people in front of me.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Highland Park-Ford Parkway - $1.69 sm cone

This DQ Grill and Chill is pretty new. It used to be a really skanky Burger King where I once got sick off a bad Whopper Jr. Now, it is a beautiful Dairy Queen store. It even has a flat screen TV showing the baseball game. They have the Orange Julius here, too. Plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, and it has a drive-thru. Off to a good start, but then they stumble.

The place where you order, and the place where you pick up your order is, basically, the same corner of the restaurant. People stand around wondering if they are in line or if they are hanging out with the people waiting for their orders. A simple velvet rope to keep people to one side when they come in would help.

Also, the kitchen seemed too small for the number of people in it. They should do something about that, too.

Small vanilla cone: $1.69
medium: $2.19
Large: $2.59
Peanut Buster Parfait: $4.19
Chocolate soft serve? Yes
Aggregate Cost: $10.66 

Cone size was average--just like the picture on the wall of the small cone, actually. Fine. I'll accept an average cone, but the whole idea behind this blog is to find the best deals. Highland Park DQ is not it.

The cone had good flavor, nicely balanced between icy and marshmellowy. When I finished eating I felt it was a satisfying cone experience.

What I suggest you do when here, and every DQ, is see if they have the 2for$3/3 for $4/4 for $5 meal specials, which are great if you are making your own combo meal, but even better if two or more of you are there for an ice cream cone.

I forgot to get the price of the small chocolate dipped cone, but I am sure it was at least $2.09. With the 2 for $3 special, you can save over $.50 on each cone.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

2612 Hwy 88 - St. Anthony Village DQ

Hwy 88 DQ on my phone

This review was a special request from one of my readers, and I am glad to say that this DQ was a good find.  Mainly because it is an interesting looking Dairy Queen.   It is in the middle of a stripmall parking lot and has a concrete fence around its own patio area forming a little DQ oasis.  There are plenty of tables and seems to get plenty of business.

Small Vanilla Cone: $1.39
Medium: $1.89
Large: $2.19
Peanut Buster Parfait: $3.79
Aggregate: $9.26
Chocolate Ice cream? Yes

Prices for the small and large cone are better than average.  The medium cone is average in price, as is the PBP.  The cone had the good marshmellowy taste that I look for and was the normal size.

Service was a bit odd.  They had a lot of staff working--because it is a busy place--by since they are all teenagers, there was a bit of dickin around when hey should have been taking orders.  Amusing to watch, but service could have been faster.

A new thing I am making note of is whether or not the Dairy Queen has chocolate soft serve. Wife Sally loves it.  I think it takes like the shakes they offered as a lunch alternative at my high school.  The Hwy 88 St. Anthony DQ DOES have chocolate soft serve, and that's good to know.

(Don't confuse this DQ with 409 Old Hwy 8, review to come)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Lexington and University - St. Paul

Such sadness and disappointment.  I was saving my review of this St. Paul store since it has always been one of my favorites.  When I worked in St. Paul, I went there all the time.  It is, after all, across the street from White Castle.

I was one friendly terms with the owner who knew of my love of chocolate dipped cones.  Prices were good and it was never as busy as the Snelling Ave DQ.  I bet that in the 4 years since I've worked near there, the store is owned by someone else.

The two teenagers working the store were tattooed and pierced (not that I have anything against that).  And they had the attitude.  After waiting at the window for 5 minutes, I poked my head in and one of them snarked, "I'm making somethin', I'll be right with you."  The other girl was just standing there.  Maybe she didn't even work there.  I can't say.

Also, I saw this totally blinged out dude who let me cut in line,  He was wearing a fake Rolex that was so cheap it didn't even have a back on it.  It was fabulous!

Topping it off, the cone was crappy like the Heights DQ was crappy.  It was extra whipped, too fluffy and could barely support itself under its own weight.  It melted immediately and nearly totally.  I had to scarf it down before it dripped away.  Sure, it is 80 degrees out today, but it is no excuse!  Make a good cone, dang it.

Small Vanilla Cone: $1.49
medium: $1.89
Large: $2.29

Skip this one.  No need to have a bad DQ experience.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Heights Theatre DQ and 38th St and 13th Ave S - Double Review

This week I went to two DQs that were mentioned in a post by Gugeo.  A couple commenters said that their favorite DQs were not reviewed yet.  I got right on it.

I have not been to the walk up DQ in South Mpls at 38th and 13th.  I can see why people like this DQ--it's in the middle of a residential neighborhood, lots of table seating, and the prices are cheap!

38th and 13th Ave - 3747 13th Ave S
Small Cone: $1.29
Medium: $1.69
Large: $1.89
Peanut Buster Parfait: $3.49

All prices are well below average.  Only the Blaine (Hwy 65) store is lower at the time of this review ($1.19).

The cones were average in size and average in flavor.  I was hoping that it would have that perfect marshmellowy flavor I a looking for so this store could be cheap and perfect.  I was annoyed by some teenagers at the table next to me, but I am sure that they are their all the time.

As an odd note, Wife Sally's ice cream in a dish was not as large as how the other stores make them, though it seemed the equivalent to the small cone, like it should. Sally thought her ice cream tasted funny.  My cone was fine.  This is just the excuse I need to return for a second review.

Review #2: Central Ave and 37th N,next to the Heights Theatre.

There is certainly an appeal to this DQ as well.  It is owned by the people who own the Heights Theatre, which is probably the most beautiful in the twin cities.  It is a single screen theater and they have a Wurlitzer Organ that they use to play instead of "the 20."  They do silent pics here, too, because of the organ, and even 72 millimeter print showings of Lawrence of Arabia.  Best of all, you can take your Peanut Buster Parfait into the theater with you!

Small cone: 1.59
Medium: $1.79
Large: $1.99
PBP: $3.49

Totally average prices.  They can get really busy around show times, so plan accordingly. 

Here is the catch--------------My small cone was the Worst Cone I have ever had.  This cone was the largest small cone, perhaps even the size of a large cone, but it was completely shapeless.  It was shapeless, perhaps, because it was more like whipped milk rather than iced milk.  The ice cream was so fluffy that it could barely maintain a cone-like shape.  The first attempt at making me a cone flew onto the floor when the server moved to fast.

Side by side with any other Dairy Queen cone and you was have guessed it came from some know-nothing competitor.  Heights DQ should be embarrassed.

I ate my cone, though.  For the sake of research.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Blaine - The Lowest Price Small Cone! - $1.19

The Blaine DQ is on Hwy 65, North of Hwy 10. It is by Aquator Park where all of my little league tournaments were played. Because of this, this is where I had all of my last game DQs that the coach would by for the team. Nothing but good memories at this DQ.

Now I have another reason to return to this DQ--Small Cone: $1.19!!!!!!!!!!

This is the lowest cone price I have found so far.

Small $1.19
Medium: $1.49
Large: $1.99
PBP: $3.39

This is also the lowest aggregate cost at $8.06 for 1 each.

The only down-side is that the cone was smaller than usual. It falls into the cheapskate category, but might be the place to go if you have smaller children who can't eat as much or if you want fewer calories. (I'm Mr. Brightside today).

This DQ has plenty of inside seating. It is one of those stores that looks like a barn. It has a drive through and the staff is friendly.

One thing to note: Take a look at the sign in the picture...It is not symmetrical like the other DQs I know about. Does anyone else know of a DQ like this?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mike Doughty Loves Soft Serve

Mike Doughty and Aaron Arntz at Taste of Randolph St

This weekend I was in Chicago to see the in-laws and check out the Taste of Randolph Street, which featured a performance by Mike Doughty, formerly of Soul Coughing. Mike Doughty is awesome. My wife, Sally, interviewed him for a Pulse Magazine cover story a year or two ago and he seemed like a swell guy. We saved his voice mail message on the phone for about 6 months before we gave up the landline.

Though this weekend was a complete bust for any Illinois DQ for a interstate review, Doughty makes into the DQ blog because during his show he played the Soul Coughing tune, Soft Serve.  (Link to youtube video of a recent performance.  He screws up the words in this one but totally charms the audience with how he recovers).

Let me say a couple things about how awesome a Mike Doughty Show is.  1) So Funny: He performed just down the street from Oprah's Harpo Studios, and had the funniest rant about his failed love affair with Oprah and how she kept buying him cars to show her love, but that it was not what he wanted from her.  2) Consistently awesome songwriting.  He could have played a totally different 90 minute show and the gig would have been just as great. 3) New keyboard player, at least for this show--Aaron Arntz.  4)Fake Last Song, where instead of leaving the stage before an encore, the band turns their back on the crowd and stands there for a few minutes, acting surprised that the fans would want to hear more music.   Check out Mike's blog for his take on the Taste of Randolph event.

Edina - Training Store?

The Edina DQ is my home-away-home DQ. 77th and Hwy 100, north of 494. It is walking distance from my office so it often gets my business. I would guess that DQ gets at least $30 per day from the people in my 20 person office. I've got some coworkers who go there everyday for breakfast!

The breakfast looks pretty good--bacon and eggs and all that. I can't do fast food breakfast, though. I'm not at liberty to explain why at this time.

But I do get their cones, though.

Small vanilla cone: $1.79--Just about the priciest in the system, that I know of.
Medium: $2.19
Large: $2.69

PBF: $3.79

Edina is the faciest store I know of. It is a Grill and Chill and has lots of inside seating. It is also 1 block from International DQ Headquarters. This is the sort of store where you order, get a number and they bring you the food at your table. My first time there was after my job interview--They forgot about me and I didn't get my food for a half hour. I got a free meal gift cert for that one.

Service here is hit or miss, I assume because it seems to be a training store. Half the time, a manager is waiting on my, though, which means the service is a bit better.

Cone size is inconsistent (Should I call it In-Cone-Sistent)? My theory is that everyone here is new and a bit shy on the cone machine. I can get the tiniest cone or even a huge cone. I cannot predict.

My most recent cone was average in size, served by a very friendly person and purchased by my coworker, Yee, who is a bit giddy to be leaving the job and the country to begin a new life in a strange land. Taste and consistency was perfect. But I am gonna add again--Any reason why a small cone needs to cost this much?

Of special note, they have specials--4 for $5. 3 for $4, 2-$2. An excellent deal if shopping in a group. They have food from the different food groups to choose from and it includes dipped cones and sundaes for the ice cream offerings. Make sure to check this out.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Snelling Ave - St. Paul

2 DQs in one weekend. It must really be summer. Judging from the crowd at the Snelling Ave DQ in St. Paul, I think it is.

There is no denying that this is a popular DQ. It is on a high-traffic street and in the middle of a residential neighborhood. There is lots of seating and it is across the street from Cheapo's. What more could one want? Slightly lower prices for one...

Take notice that I added a new segment to the right side of the blog - Average Cost. I put the cost for sm/med/lg cones, plus Peanut Buster Parfaits into a spreadsheet and did some averaging. Later, I'll have Wife Sally help me determine standard deviations and such. She just took a statistics class.

Based on these averages, the Snelling DQ is above average in cost in every category. The aggregate cost of the items reviewed is $9.68, while here at Snelling DQ the aggregate cost is $10.16.

There is a tie for the Lowest Aggregate Cost--W. 7th in DT St. Paul and Lowry Ave in NE Mpls at $8.98. Awesome!

But in regards to my experience at Snelling DQ, it was great. The cone was slightly larger than average and it was a perfect consistency.

Robert St and Butler - W St Paul

Sally (l) and Barbara (r)
I did not need a cone from here today. I had just finished gorging myself at a BBQ for Barbara Moore who quit a job to work freelance only. There's a goal, now, isn't it?

This Dairy Queen makes me think of a friend from college who was working here when she found out she had diabetes. Not a good place to work when you have diabetes. She quit.

This is an excellent DQ. The area where you order can be open to the street or closed, depending on the weather, the prices are reasonable, and they were adequately staff. The girl who waited on me was pretty, so that's always nice.

Small Vanilla Cone: $1.59
Medium: $189
Large: $2.09
Peanut Buster Parfait: $3.88

This is an average price for a small cone. The cone was a bit mis-shaped, but it was the perfect marshmellowy flavor that I look for. I noticed that on the ice cream machine there was a chart which showed how big cones were supposed to be at different sizes. Each jump in size is a 2oz increase in ice cream.

At this DQ, they charge $.31 for each ounce in a 5 oz small cone. For 2 oz more (7 oz total), you get a medium cone for the cost of $.27/oz. The 9 oz large cone is only $.23/oz.

Anyway, there is plenty of seating at picnic tables, and they even have a drive-thru. If you are thinking of having food here, don't! Not because the food here is bad, but because there is a dive-restaurant called JT's just a block or two south of this DQ on Robert St. The best hotdogs and fries on the strip. Definitely worth checking out; an old dude in a paper food service have will make you a Coney Island Dog and you will have to order a second one when you are done with the first. Trust me.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Minnehaha - SE MPLS

The DQ on the NW corner of Minnehaha Park in SE Mpls is a classic. Perfect location. Who could resist a bike ride down by the Falls without stopping at the DQ on your way home? I cannot imagine who this person would be...

I consider this to be a destination DQ where you can plan a day out with the family with DQ as the highlight. There is an awesome dog park on the river just south of the DQ as well.

The store itself does not have indoor seating but plenty of room inside to accommodate a long line trying to get out of the heat. Outside there are 8-10 concrete picnic tables, which is more seating than I have found at any DQ yet.

Small vanilla cone: $1.49
medium: $1.99
Large: $2.39

Peanut Buster Parfait: $3.59

The small cone is the best value here. It is a significant price jump to medium--$.50--for another 3 oz of icecream? Crazy. The price for the small cone, though is less than average.

Size of the cone was small to average. It was a narrow cone, which typically bugs me. There is plenty of cone shelf to hold more ice cream it should be used. It was slightly ice, but still overall a marshmellowy flavor. Something was missing, though. Its flavor was muted. I have not experienced this lack of flavor in a cone before, so I will have to be on the lookout in the future.

Service was servicable. Not much to making a cone and handing it to me. It wasn't crowded on this sunny day.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

DQ Double Review - Lake St then Lexington

This weekend I turned 42 years old. I was born at 3:30pm Central Standard Time and on exactly this time on my first birthday-I had my 1st Dairy Queen Cone. That was over 14,000 days ago and I am still a bit fixated on Dairy Queen.

For this birthday, I went to Dairy Queen for Breakfast. Not a bad way to start the day. I went to the DQ on Lake St and 44th in Mpls, near the St. Paul border. This store is the possible new standard-bearer. Cones were cheap, tasty, and sold to me on my birthday.
Small cone: $1.40Medium: $1.68
Large: $1.88
Peanut Buster Parfait: $3.31

Please notice that these prices are a bit different than the other DQs I hav reviewed. What is awesome about this is that your bill comes to a round number. My small cone was $1.50 after tax. I like this. The cone was average in size, but perfect in texture and flavor. I could have gone back for another one.Which I did, later that 3:30pm Central Standard Time. I went to the Lexington and Larpentuer store because I believe this was the site of my very first DQ. Full circle, 41 years later.

This time I got the Peanut Buster Parfait and split it with my wife, Sally.
Small cone: $1.48
Medium: $1.80
Large: $2.12
PBP: $3.94

Astonishing differences in price!

Peanut Buster Parfaits are excellent and great for a birthday treat. This one was extra fudgy. Service was a bit slow. I think someone came out of retirement and was learning a new job for the summer. No points off! since it was my birthday.

Everyone's a Winner!

Monday, May 26, 2008

DQ Party

The Queen of Ice Creams Surrounded by Wanna-be Rulers

This weekend, Sally's friend Tehilah came to stay.  Of course, we had an ice cream social.  A hand picked selection of friends were invited to share 10 pints of various Ben and Jerry Ice Cream and 3 quarts of Dairy Queen Soft Serve.

Many may feel that Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream is the highest quality ice cream middle America can hope to consume.  The have fancy flavors with cute names: Cherry Garcia, Chubby Hubby, Phish Food.  These ice creams are really just regular ice cream with frozen candy, fruit, or pretzels in them.  Reflecting specifically on the Peanut Butter Cup ice cream...They just wrecked a perfectly good Peanut Butter Cup!

Good thing I saved the day by buying 3 quarts of DQ soft serve for $10.85.  That's $3.61 each. That is just the cost of a small and a medium vanilla cone.  There are some serious savings to be found by buying by the quart.

I purchased my ice cream from the Lyndale Ave N Mpls DQ, reviewed recently.  I went here because I knew the flavor would be marshmellowy like I require, and reasonably priced.  I was correct on both counts.

While most people at the party consume their Ben and Jerry's, I can only assume due to years of brain washing to assume that BandJ ice cream is good, I and a couple others had our fill of the DQ.  This volume of ice cream needs to be frozen, so it loses the consistency of a cone, and takes on the consistency of the ice cream in a Buster Bar.  It's a trade off.

The other trade off is that even though you can have as much ice cream in your house at one time, by buying in quarts, unlimited access can be an issue for those for little will power.  This is me.  I have eaten most of this ice cream myself when my goal was to go to DQ only once a week and write a review.  It was my best laid plan! How could this go wrong?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

N Mpls - Lyndale and 47th

Monday, 5/19/08 3:30pm.

This DQ is a little hard to find. Cross the railroad tracks, pass some possible-abandoned warehouses and a sorry-looking nursing home and yo will find it on Lyndale Ave N.

This is a walk-up DQ which has a hallway-sized enclosed area for ordering. Perfect for the DQ fix on a cold or rainy day. This store is a bit in the hood, which means that my wife will not go with me. She does not share my love of hood-based fast food establishments--like Hook's Fish and Chicken, KFC behind plexiglass, or any Wendy's that employs a full time guard.

Small: $1.69 This is what I got.
Med: $1.99
Large: $2.29

Peanut Buster Parfait: $3.99

Prices were reasonable--not too high, not too low. I ordered a small dish of ice cream and got more than my money's worth. Again I believe that this is the way to go to stretch your budget. A medium or large dish would even be a splittable treat bringing total cost to just over $2.00 for 2 people.

Unfortunately, this was not a pretty dish of ice cream. It was a formless mass of slightly runny goo, but the flavor was awesome. Creamy and marshmellowy. Compared to the gritty ice milk cone of the Broadway store in NE Mpls, this was heavenly!

A chipper little girl served me my dish, charged my the right amount, and was quick with the goods.

And as a bonus, this store has a Royal Seat on the side of the building. For those not in the know, a Royal Seat is a loveseat-sized chair shaped and painted like a banana split. A perfect place for a portrait to document whatever success you are celebrating in the hood. I'd even take that portrait. I'm just down the road. Check out my website.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Lowry - NE Mpls

I do not know the exact address, but this store is on Lowry a few blocks West of Central Ave.

This was an interesting visit. Like always, it was a cold night on the trip to the DQ. There was some confusion when Sally ordered her small "dish" of ice cream--she was charged the Sundae Rate. I can understand the confusion since it looks like a sundae, but just doesn't have the fixin's. The friendly cashier had trouble correcting the change so we got back and extra $.20 for some reason.

Cone size was excellent and my cone was really heavy. Why is this important? It's because the cone was more crystalized milk that the marshmellowy fluff I prefer. It is possible to overdue the marshmellowy flavor (I haven't reviewed a store like that yet), but when it is too milky it is also a bit gritty from the ice crystals. There is less flavor, too, so points off for that.

The prices were interesting:
small cone: $1.49 - ($1.39 is the lowest I've seen, so this is pretty good)
med: $1.69
Large: $1.99 - overall, quite reasonable.
Peanut Buster Parfait: $3.79 - Also a good price.

Parking is sparce, but this is a walk up store. If I lived in the neighborhood, I'd be biking there all the time, but also wishing that the cones were better. Perhaps it was a fluke in regards to cone flavor. I'll update and give them a second chance if they do better later this summer.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Crystal DQ Grill and Chill

Do they still have Brazier stores?

My experience with the Crystal DQ has been hit or miss over the years. Often the wait is too long. I suppose this is because of families eating dinner and messing up the whole serve up the ice cream flow.

Today, Seis de Mayo, Tuesday, it is rainy. No line. Staff was cheerful and my change was correct. My cone arrived with little delay. Extra points for them today for speed.

Vanilla Cone:
sm: $1.69 - This is what I ordered.
med: $2.19 - Ouch! a big jump in price for a medium.
large: $2.69 - Ouch again!

Peanut Buster Parfait: $4.19

The cone was a 3 bumper, the way it should be, but the cone was a bit small. Too narrow, actually. I feel a bit cheated out of the ice cream.

My lovely wife, Sally, ordered a small dish of ice cream and got quite a bit more than me. This is a trend, now. If you want good cone value, order the dish instead of a cone. Plus, Cool Red Spoon!

Quality-wise, this was the best of the three stores reviewed so far. Not too runny, not too marshmellowy.

This store has lots of indoor seating, but the heavy metal music they play in the dining area is too loud. I suggest eating in the car.

In regards to price, West 7th in DT St. Paul is still the price leader, but if I want a small dish of ice cream and want to stay close to my home, I'll come back to Crystal again.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Robbinsdale DQ - For the Big Spender!

The 4017 W Broadway DQ is my home DQ.  This is also the DQ where the manager flirts with my wife.

This store is the reason why I wanted to write this blog--THEY CHARGE TOO MUCH FREAKIN' MONEY FOR EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!

Vanilla cone
sm: $1.89--This is what I got.
med: $2.29
lg: $2.49

Peanut Buster Parfait: $4.09

Across the board, this DQ is $.50 more expensive on everything.  Everything I care about anyways.  This earns this DQ a "Shame on You, DQ" designation for exploiting everyone's uncontrollable need for Dairy Queen.

This is a typical stand up and order DQ with no indoor seating.  It stays open almost all year round, which is awesome, but I feel cheated on price every time.

The wait was slightly long on this cold Tuesday evening.  They are probably a bit understaffed at this time of year.  The young woman waiting on me was nice; she laughed when my wife made fun of me for the way I ordered.

The cone was a good size--a 3 bumper with a decent swirl.  It had good flavor that was a little marshmellowy, but a bit runny.  If this were a hot July day, the cone would not have made it back to one of the 5 picnic tables.  

Sally, my wife, ordered a small dish of ice cream.  This costs the same price as a cone, but had significantly more ice cream.  This may be the way to go to get the most value for your money.

Parking is free and abundant.  Be sure to check out the painted garage window across the alley behind the DQ.  Whoever lives there creates a monthly portrait of some famous figure--Johnny Cash, Elvis, Buster Keaton, Michael Keaton.  The list goes on.

I'll continue going to this DQ since it is nearest to my house, but I'm probably going to continue to complain about it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

W 7th DQ - South of the Xcel Center

Date of Review: 4/24/08. Thursday, rainy, no line

The DQ on W 7th is a classic "stand up and order" store. There is a drive thru and some benches for sitting down. Parking is free in their lot.

The one person working was a bit slow to wait on me because she had two blizzard machines running and didn't know I was there. She apologized for the delay.

small cone: $1.39 -this is what I got.
med cone: $1.69
large cone: $1.99

Peanut Buster Parfait: $3.89

Cone Size: Standard 3-4 inches of ice cream above the cone. It's always a good sign when I am excited rather than disappointed when the cone is delivered. Good Job!

Service: Very good. The lady seemed nice.

Miscellaneous: Spoons and napkins were all within reach. Overall, an awesome experience. This store may be the standard bearer.

Rate My Dairy Queen

I love Dairy Queen.  I always have.  It has always been where Grandma takes you for a special treat, where the team goes after the tournament (win or lose), and where I go now to feed my emotions or celebrate accomplishments.

I few years ago, I began comparing Dairy Queen stores.  I thrive on variety and can hardly pass up a Dairy Queen if I see one.  I noticed that all DQs are not created equal.

Some stores are stingy on the cone size...
Some stores are expensive as hell...
Some store managers flirt with my wife.

With this weekly, blog I will compare and rate various Dairy Queen stores throughout Mpls/St Paul.  By the end of this summer, we will know--

Who is most generous with their ice cream cone size,
Who has the best and worst prices.
And who provides the best overall Dairy Queen experience.