You might have some questions, like, what is a “Pallookaville”?, and, why in the world would anyone concoct a sriracha milkshake? Well, dear readers, I would not blame you for these queries. Just two days ago, I had the same ones myself. But then I went to Pallookaville–a pretty awesome restaurant in Avondale Estates–and tried the sriracha milkshake, and I gotta say, I’m a convert.
Let’s start from the beginning. Seven years ago, Jim Stacy started running a corn dog wagon (no, not a food truck–a corn dog wagon) called Pallookaville. From it, he served corn dogs, fries, pickles, peanuts, and sometimes (when he felt like it) tamales. It was simple. It was popular. It was good. But, alas, it was not enough. He wanted more. So he went and made himself more–a whole, beautifully kitschy and retro store’s worth of more.
Why choose oft-neglected Avondale Estates for his flagship restaurant? As he put it, “I was enamored of this little village [downtown Avondale Estates], and thought that it was criminally underused.” (Trust it to Jim to be one of few giant men covered in tattoos to use the word “enamored”–but I digress.) When he and his business partner John Gianoulidis heard that there was a change in ownership in one of the Avondale buildings, they contacted the owner. And thus, the plans were laid for Pallookaville.
But a plan is not a functioning restaurant. The building–which is gorgeous–was built in 1910. It’s been, in order, a pharmacy, a Western auto, an offset printer, a hair salon, and then, for the last decade or so, totally empty. So when the Pallookaville owners got to the building, it was, as they put it, trashed. The build-out was a total overhaul, and once you visit the place, you’ll see that it was totally worth it. There are wonky knick knacks everywhere, sweetly retro colored chairs, and–this is the good part–a traditional soda shop bar.
It’s pretty gorgeous, and the bottles of house-made soda syrup and liquor behind it only add to the sight. That’s right–this is no tame 1950s soda fountain, although Jim has assured me that the liquor behind the bar is totally authentic. “I wanted a restaurant anchored by a traditional soda fountain, and, traditionally, bars and soda fountains went together.” It was one of the ways that people got around Prohibition–by serving alcoholic tinctures in innocuous soda fountains.
But enough about the restaurant–you’re here for the milkshake. Well, folks, it was great. It’s definitely spicy, but not overwhelmingly so–there’s far too much milk and ice cream for the spice to be overbearing. Instead, it’s creamy, and it tastes strongly of vanilla and ginger. The depth of the shakes’s coffee ice cream base ensures that it isn’t overly sweet. But the best part is that the shake’s coldness prevents the spicy pepper from settling in your moth or throat. The spiciness travels quickly down to your chest, so even as you drink a freezing beverage, you’re warmed from the inside out, as though you were drinking coffee or whiskey.
According to Jim, the shake’s warmth was something of a happy accident. He’d always intended to create cold weather milkshakes, and thought that adding some spice would make the cold drinks suitable for equally cold weather–hence the sriracha and Mexican hot chocolate flavored milkshakes. He didn’t imagine that a shake could warm you from the inside out, but we should all cheer for his discovery. It’s seems paradoxical, but his spicy milkshakes really are the perfect beverage for wintery days.
So to conclude, I urge you to get to Pallookaville as fast as you can. You’ll probably see me there–I mean, there are so many milkshakes left to try. You know I can never pass up a milkshake, particularly when it’s this good.
From the Woblet blog, November 22, 2013. Read it at Woblet.