Serious Eats: Sweets
Sugar Rush: The Western from Luv-It Frozen Custard, Las Vegas
You know when summer has arrived in Las Vegas: It's the day when you step outside and immediately look for the hair dryer being aimed at you, only to discover that it is in fact the wind, which is quietly attempting to dry up whatever ocular fluid didn't evaporate the moment you opened the door. It is on this day, and the scorching and interminable number that follow, that locals flock to Luv-It Frozen Custard, a little shack near downtown that has been keeping cool alive against all odds since 1973. No, this is no tourist trap, Luv-it has survived for over forty years on the business of regulars, with little more than word-of-mouth for advertising.
A smorgasbord it is not; at the walk-up window, you can order your frozen custard in four flavors on any given day: vanilla, chocolate, and two daily specials. A calendar is up at their website, in case you want to keep an eye out for a favorite (I recommend peanut butter+, the plus being chocolate chips). The real fun is to be had with the sundae menu, however. You can design your own or pick from their creations, which comprise a delightful variety of sticky concoctions. On your first time, though, stick with the classic, their "#1 favorite": The Western ($5.25).
Creamy but not-too-sweet vanilla custard is topped with thin layers of warm caramel sauce and hot fudge, just enough that you get some of each in every bite but not enough to overpower the delicate flavor of the custard. Sprinkled on top are little pieces of salted pecans, which add just the right amount of crunch and the delightful contrast of salt on sweet. The Western does not aim to reinvent the wheel, but it does aim to be just what you need on a hot summer's day, and it succeeds. With perfectly balanced flavors and textures, not too much sweetness, and the obligatory cherry on top, it's worth braving the weather to experience this sweet relief. Now put on some sunblock, or you'll burn up like a twig in a forest fire.
Luv-It Frozen Custard
About the author:Zoë Kohen Ley is a freelance writer and musician. She's never met a steak or chop she didn't like, and she eats ice cream whenever possible, including in winter.