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Kat Piculell shows off one of Saturn Café’s milkshakes, which were recently named among the best in the country. Photo by Chip Scheuer.

Kat Piculell shows off one of Saturn Café’s milkshakes, which were recently named among the best in the country. Photo by Chip Scheuer.

Since Santa Cruz is fast becoming known as an ice cream mecca, it might follow that our shakes are also the best around. And, indeed, it does.
In fact, Business Insider recently named Saturn Café’s milkshakes as one of the 17 best in the entire country—and that’s a hell of a lot of competition.

Indeed, Saturn has some good shakes. The formula is simple: McConnell’s ice cream (vanilla bean, Dutch chocolate or mint chip) and with a choice of add-ins (cookie crumbs, organic peanut butter, berries or organic banana), and there you have it. Milkshake paradise. They also offer vegan shakes, if dairy’s not your thing.

Ernesto Quintero, co-owner of Saturn, knows his shakes are tops.

“It’s a combination of factors,” he says. “We use a super premium ice cream, McConnell’s. Beyond that, we use creative mixes like organic bananas and berries. In terms of training our staff, it’s really a highlight, teaching them how to make an excellent shake.”

Saturn Café though isn’t the only local spot that excels at shakes. The excellence started long ago with Marianne’s; its 50-plus-year tenure and selection of over 70 flavors at any one time have made it a local favorite for generations. With classic flavors like horchata, Mexican chocolate and oatmeal raisin dough, you can get some innovative shakes going if you’re feeling brave.

There is also Mission Hill Creamery, which opened its doors in 2010 as the first organic ice cream shop in Santa Cruz, before closing and re-appearing last year, better than ever, on Pacific Avenue. Mission Hill scoopers will make shakes from any of their flavors, allowing for such options as salted caramel, Zinfandel plum sorbet, Verve Turkish coffee and orange creamsicle.

There’s also Penny Ice Creamery, which isn’t just organic and makes everything from scratch. Their artisan ice cream yields amazing artisan milkshakes.
“Just being based on the ice cream, they’re kind of guaranteed to be good,” co-owner Zachary E. Davis says about their shakes. “The special thing about our ice cream that’s different from anybody else in town, we’re actually making ice cream from scratch, which basically means we’re a dairy manufacturing facility, instead of just an ice cream shop.”

One of the most popular shakes at Penny is the Verve Espresso flavor, which is a combination of Tahitian Vanilla ice cream and Verve Espresso with no milk needed. The espresso melts the ice cream enough to make it blendable. Another favorite is their caramel shake, which is made with bitter caramel ice cream and then drizzled with their in-house caramel sauce.

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