Malted milkshakes invoke images of 50s drug stores, Norman Rockwell and long summer days in small-town America. Today, nowhere brings back those memories any better than the PortLand Malt Shoppe in Duluth, Minnesota. There are other ice cream desserts offered as well, but a chocolate malt topped with whip cream, a vanilla wafer and a maraschino cherry makes for a little bit of heaven in your hand for $6.95, and it's worth the price. That's why there are often very long lines. The secret ingredient is malted milk powder, a once popular staple of frozen treats that gives a satisfying crunchy texture to the shake while coming up easy through the straw.
The tiny 1921 building was originally a "Noco" gas station for the Northwestern Oil Company, whose name is still written in concrete above the twin, candy-striped canopies above the shop windows. The history page on the shop's website states the surrounding neighborhood used to be called Portland, but the local postmaster grew tired of receiving mail from other U.S. towns with the same name, and after village officials conferred with the neighboring community of Duluth, the two communities merged into what is today the city of Duluth.
There are fine views of Lake Superior and easy access to the wonderful Duluth Lakewalk and Fitger's Brewery. It's a great place to lean over the railing to watch sailboats or lake freighters laden with iron ore. Open from April to October, the PortLand Malt Shoppe is adjacent to the Chocolate Ship at 716 East Superior Street, Duluth. When its doors are open, so is summer in the Twin Ports.