Kopp’s Frozen Custard, Milwaukee
Prior to moving to the Midwest in college, I had no idea what frozen custard was. I had grown up on ice cream in the east, never realizing that there is in fact a difference in the two products. Ice cream, by definition, has to contain fewer than 1.4 percent of egg products. If there’s any more egg in there and it’s not a soft-serve ice cream, the result is frozen custard.
In the Midwest, frozen custard is the preferred dessert, and the place to find the best is in Milwaukee, where an abundance of local dairy products make it a natural spot to serve the best frozen dairy treats. Several places claim to serve the best in the Brew City, but there’s only one that was the first to go beyond the basic chocolate and vanilla, and that’s Kopp’s Frozen Custard. Kopp’s is actually in the suburbs of Milwaukee, but it’s close enough for me.
The way frozen custard stands work in Wisconsin is nothing like what you find at places like Baskin-Robbins or Cold Stone Creamery, where you can get whatever ice cream you want any day of the week. At Kopp’s and other Wisconsin custard places, you need a calendar to know what flavor is going to be available on your visit.
That’s because Kopp’s only produces four flavors a day and rotates which flavors it chooses to make. Chocolate and vanilla are always offered, but the other two choices could be anything. On one day, you might have red velvet cake and pomegranate available. A return trip might produce butter pecan and chocolate peanut butter, or red raspberry and key lime pie. On the signs outside the restaurant, Kopp’s will announce which flavors are being produced that day, information that also shows up on their website.
On my visit, my choice was mint chip, as you’ve probably gathered by the sign and the picture at the start of the post, thus eliminating any suspense. Suspense aside, this was heavenly. As I said before, frozen custard has to contain at least 1.4 percent egg, which makes for a richer, creamier dessert than the standard ice cream. The texture is so smooth that it’s almost like a soft-serve with the taste and fullness of regular ice cream. It’s soft and spoonable from the second it gets out of the machine.
Kopp’s uses dark chocolate chips in the mint custard, which is an easy way to win me over, as that means two of my favorite tastes are combined into one. The mint is cool, creamy and refreshing. It’s a perfect treat on a hot summer day.
But custard isn’t the only good thing you’ll find at Kopp’s. Unlike many other frozen custard places, Kopp’s also serves up a full lunch/dinner menu of burgers, chicken and fish sandwiches. Since a burger and fries just go together with ice cream in my opinion, it was a natural choice to combine them all together before heading off to Mitchell Airport to catch my flight.
This burger is very juicy and tastes fantastic. It’s hard to stand out with a basic cheeseburger, but Kopp’s manages to do it with a burger that is cooked to absolute perfection. It’s hot and fresh, yet not overcooked so that the meat is too tough. This is the way the best burgers are, and it makes Kopp’s worth a visit for any meal.
You don’t stay in business for over 60 years in the frozen custard capital of the world without doing something right, and Kopp’s certainly knows what it’s doing. Any time my plans call for a trip through Milwaukee, I’m checking the calendar to see what’s on the menu.
Time to go: All three Kopp’s locations are open at 10:30 a.m. and close late. 10 p.m. is closing time in Brookfield, with Greenfield and Glendale closing at 11.
Wait during my visit: Not long, despite a packed restaurant. They move you through quickly.
Location: I visited the one in Greenfield, which is at 7631 Layton Ave., Greenfield, Wis. It’s a Milwaukee suburb near Mitchell Airport (MKE).
Cost: With burger, fries and custard, you’ll still get out for around $10. It’s more costly if you want a sundae, but that is to be expected.
Parking: At Greenfield, it’s in a shopping center. There’s plenty of parking to be had.
Specialty items: Frozen custard