History Tourism

Historic Salt Lake City: Iceberg Drive Inn

One of the oldest ongoing arguments in my marriage is what one should expect when one orders a milkshake. My husband feels like a person should be able to drink a milkshake through a straw as soon as you get it into your hands, but I don’t want a milkshake that won’t hold a spoon straight up if you jam it into the middle. In my opinion, milkshakes should start out resembling soft serve and eventually melt down to straw-consistency so you have the opportunity to enjoy both a beverage and an ice cream treat. Enter Iceberg Drive Inn.

I grew up in the Holladay neighborhood of Salt Lake City so everyone I knew frequented the tiny drive-thru burger and shake shop on 9th and 39th. Iceberg is now a franchised restaurant with locations in four different states but before 1999 there was only the one. It was opened by Lamar Sorenson in 1959 and was only intended to be temporary since Sorenson didn’t own the land. However, people lined up for the innovative shake flavors and when Iceberg began serving their trademark over-the-top “thick shakes”, they quickly became the main reason people frequented the little restaurant and they still use the same shake recipe today.

The fact that not much has changed about the original location in the last sixtyish yearsis a huge part of the charm. You’ll wait a bit for your food because most items are made to order and there isn’t usually enough seating on summer nights when everyone shows up for milkshakes, but we’ve always experienced friendly service and it’s one of those local treats you have to experience at least once.

I won’t lie, the menu doesn’t offer much beyond traditional fast food fare (think burgers, corn dogs, tater tots, fry sauce, etc.) and it won’t be the best burger you’ve ever had in your life but the food is still good and the shakes are something you can’t get anywhere else. There are tons of options, including seasonal ones like Fresh Strawberry, and there’s always plenty. In our experience, the Mini size shake can easily be split between two or three people and I don’t even know who orders the Regular size unless they’re feeding a family of six with one milkshake.

Heads up to new visitors: when you order the Mini it will still come hidden inside a Regular size cup to catch the overflow because the shakes are piled that far above the rim. If that’s too much for you, you can request a smaller Mini (for the same price) when you order. Also, this isn’t a safe restaurant for people who have nut allergies because a large number of menu items have nuts and the risk of cross-contamination is high.


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