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Where to Get Greater Boston’s Most Decadent Milkshakes and Frappes
Creamy, sweet treats for a hot day.
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If you’re not a New Englander, you might think that the terms “milkshake” and “frappe” can be used interchangeably to describe the classic ice-cream-based, milky drink you can order at ice cream parlors or dessert shops. For locals, though, the terms are distinct: Milkshakes are made with only milk and flavoring; if you add ice cream, that’s a frappe. The good news is that no matter which version you find on these 10 menus, you’re guaranteed to get a delicious, creamy delicacy. From a quirky cocktail bar to a cozy vegan diner, from a tiny market with a taco counter to a Boston-based burger chain (or two), here’s where to find the tastiest milkshakes and frappes in town.
This guide was first published on April 13, 2023; stay tuned for periodic updates. You may also be interested in Boston’s best ice cream shops, soft-serve ice cream, and gelato.
Boston Burger Company
Boston Burger Company’s “freak frappes” are absolutely over-the-top concoctions usually topped with a whole other decadent dessert, such as a slice of cake or a giant s’more. There’s a special flavor that changes monthly, relating to the season or a holiday, but there’s a core list of crowd-pleasers, too. Take the “Dough My Goodness,” for example: a cookie dough frappe with an ice cream cookie sandwich, Cookie Crisp cereal, mini chocolate chips, and cookie dough. Bring a friend or three and dig in.
Four locations in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Salem, bostonburgercompany.com.
A Kenmore square staple, this little late-night café showcases frappes, with over 50 flavor options to add to a chocolate or vanilla frozen yogurt base. (There’s also a sugar-free base and a tofu base available.) Take a chance and order one (or more) of the more out-there flavors, like Skittles, avocado, or apple pie. Note: There’s only one size here, and it’s huge.
472 Commonwealth Ave., Kenmore Square, Boston, 617-236-4949, cafe472online.com.
Crazy Good Kitchen
This local pair of restaurants is known for its excellent burgers, but the “crazy good milkshakes” should not be overlooked. Available boozy (at the Newbury Street location) or not, the milkshakes offer a bit of a spin on classic flavors. “I’m Crazy for Cookies,” for example, is blue—an ode to the Cookie Monster—and topped with chocolate chip cookies, an Oreo, a blue lollipop, and a generous amount of whipped cream. Wish the team good luck as they plan a new “express” location in Roxbury as well as an expansion down to Miami.
206 Newbury St., Back Bay, Boston, 617-936-4359; 906 Eastern Ave., Malden, 781-480-4729; crazygoodkitchen.com.
Earnest Drinks at Gracie’s Ice Cream
What’s better than an ice cream shop? A bar, inside of an ice cream shop, that makes boozy frappes. From an ube coconut rum frappe to a spiked take on a Vermont creemee, there’s something for everyone at this Kendall Square cocktail bar. You can even customize your own adult frappe—just choose one of the unique ice cream flavors (peanut butter sriracha, perhaps?), the liquor, and mix-ins like Fritos or cereal marshmallows.
399 Binney St., Kendall Square, Cambridge, icecreamgracies.com/earnest.
Not all frappes and milkshakes have to use cow’s milk: Local vegan ice cream chain Fomu has perfected its coconut milk-based formula for non-dairy ice cream, and in turn, perfected the frappe. The selection of small-batch flavors changes seasonally, but you might find frappe options like the George Howell mocha, which combines cold brew and chocolate ice cream with local iced coffee, a chocolate swirl, and whip.
Multiple locations in Boston, fomuicecream.com.
This local ice cream parlor chain—around for more than 40 years—can make a mean frappe out of any of its ice cream or frozen yogurt flavors, from classics like black raspberry, mint chip, and rum raisin to specials like a collab with Blue Man Group, “exploding marshmallow mouth.” (That one’s blue vanilla ice cream with a marshmallow swirl and candy throughout.) You can order the frappe extra thick and/or add espresso if you need a jolt.
17 locations around Massachusetts, jplicks.com.
La Mesa Market
Head to Chelsea to find La Mesa Market, a tiny convenience store that happens to sell some of the best birria tacos in Greater Boston and an extensive selection of delicious milkshakes. Start with the churro milkshake and then work your way through tres leches, Kit Kat, strawberry cheesecake, and more. (Looking for something a little less milky and a little more fruity? La Mesa also makes a killer mangonada.) Stay tuned: An Everett location is in the works.
416 Crescent Ave., Chelsea, instagram.com/lamesamarket.
New City Microcreamery
Known for its liquid nitrogen ice cream freezing process, this Hudson-based ice cream shop—now with outposts in Cambridge and Sudbury—has flavors that pack a punch. The ice cream is made with local dairy from Mapleline Farm, and any flavor can be spun into a frappe. You’ll always find options like cookie dough, cake batter, and mint chip, but watch social media for new releases and seasonal specials like saffron apricot almond, chocolate peanut butter crunch, and baklava.
Three locations in Massachusetts, newcitymicrocreamery.com.
You’ll want a spoon for the extra-thick milkshakes at beloved local chain Tasty Burger, a past Best of Boston winner in our milkshake category (among other awards). Enjoy classic flavors like strawberry and chocolate, as well as the fan-favorite “Green Monster” (peppermint), Neapolitan, and more. And good news: Most Tasty Burger locations are open until 2 a.m. on weekends and midnight during the week.
Five locations in Boston and Cambridge, tastyburger.com.
This long-running vegetarian diner in Central Square serves comfort food aplenty, but save room for dessert: The fully vegan frappe menu doesn’t disappoint. Veggie Galaxy’s frappes feature coconut-based ice creams from Fomu (see above), as well as other local ingredients like Mem teas and Taza chocolate syrup. “Dad’s Frappe” is a standout, blending chocolate and strawberry ice creams with Taza chocolate and strawberry sauces and oat milk. For a bit of extra cash, you can add coconut whipped cream, Oreo, and/or malt to any frappe.
450 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square, Cambridge, 617-497-1513, veggiegalaxy.com.
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