There are plenty of great places around town to enjoy an ice cold milk shake or malt on a hot summer day, but in St. Louis only one such place deserves to wear the crown: Crown Candy Kitchen.
The North Side eatery has been a St. Louis institution for nearly a century — and for good reason. Its homemade candy and ice cream inspire such loyalty that customers travel from far and wide to enjoy them. Long lines for a seat are the rule rather than the exception.
The candy counter offers all kinds of delicacies, ranging from dark chocolate cherries and milk chocolate caramels to coconut clusters and almond toffee.
Yet as good as the candy is, it's safe to say that at Crown Candy Kitchen, the ice cream is the main event. It manages to be rich and creamy (thanks to 14 percent butterfat) without being cloyingly sweet.
While some ice creameries emphasize the sheer number of flavors they offer, Crown Candy Kitchen has long put the focus on quality rather than quantity. They currently offer a dozen flavors, and all are winners: vanilla, chocolate, black cherry, fresh strawberry, pineapple-orange, fresh banana, chocolate chip, Ozark black walnut, Oreo, coffee, chocolate-chocolate chip and raspberry. The various flavors are blended on site in an antique copper candy kettle.
Milk shakes and malts are the most popular ice cream options at Crown Candy, and they run the gamut from traditional options like chocolate and vanilla to more inventive fare like the "chocolate banana malted." Regular malts and shakes are $4.50.
Crown Candy Kitchen's sundae offerings also have many devotees. The "Uncle Sam" features two scoops of ice cream covered with strawberry and pineapple sauce, chopped bananas, crushed nuts and whole pecans smothered in whipped cream and topped with a cherry. Where the name comes from is anyone's guess, but the sundae's awesomeness is undeniable. Other popular sundaes include the "Fire Chief Special," which features two scoops of ice cream covered with chocolate sauce, strawberries and sliced bananas, pecans, crushed nuts and a mound of whipped cream, topped with a cherry. Sundaes range in price from $4.25 to $6.
For those who wish to keep it simple, ice cream cones and ice cream floats are also delicious options.
Of course, dessert only tells half the story at Crown Candy Kitchen. The other side of the menu is given over to traditional diner offerings: hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, Reubens, chili, salads and more. Sadly, these options don't quite measure up to the desserts. On a recent visit, the tamale was drenched in chili to the point of sogginess. Sandwiches like the "Big Cheese" and the "Roast Beef Cheddar Melt" were adequate but a little bland. The "Heart-Stopping BLT" was a pleasant exception and lived up to its name, thanks to mountainous heaps of thick-sliced bacon. Sandwiches come with chips and a pickle and range in price from $4 to $8.
Although moms around the world would likely disagree, the best advice at Crown Candy Kitchen is to enjoy a small lunch or dinner option and save your appetite for the sweet treats.
Crown Candy Kitchen is open from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The dining room seats only about 40 customers, so expect to wait in line for a table. Don't worry; it's worth it.
Crown Candy Kitchen is located at 1401 St. Louis Ave., St. Louis, Mo., 63106. Call 314-621-9650 for more information.