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Sugar Bowl

4005 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, AZ - (602) 946-0051
Posted By Michael Stern on 12/23/2012 5:11:00 AM
No sprawling urban metroplex has a restaurant scene more fluid than Phoenix, with great new places opening all the time, and some great new places closing almost as quickly. But since 1958, there has been at least one culinary institution that locals have learned to rely on: the Sugar Bowl in Scottsdale’s Old Town. With its pink-upholstered booths and counter stools and a swift young staff who look so cheerful carrying raspberry glaciers (Sprite and sherbet), golden nuggets (Sprite, sherbet, and ice cream), and Turkish coffee sodas, it is the quintessential ice cream parlor. In particular, we recommend the Camelback sodas, made with either vanilla or coffee ice cream, and “extra luscious malts,” for which the glass is lined with your choice of marshmallow, hot fudge, or caramel sauce.

In an age when nutritional nannies wag their fingers at sugar itself, we would love this place only for its name. But that is just a manifestation of the unrepentant classicism that makes the Sugar Bowl such a treasure. Jane, an ice cream soda aficionado, declares these to be among the nation's best. Where else do you have the opportunity to order such bygone faves as a Dusty Road, a Banana Royale Split, and the quintessential Tin Roof sundae? These soda fountain masterworks are all the better for the cheerful pink setting.

A while back, Roadfooder Charlene Kingston wrote to tell us, "The Sugar Bowl is the name of the ice cream counter that [cartoon character] Dennis the Menace visits, named after this restaurant. Hank Ketcham [Dennis's creator] used to come and visit Bil Keane (creator of Family Circus) who lived in Scottsdale near this famous local landmark, and he used the name in his strip as an inside joke with Keane." So not only is it a good place to eat ice cream: it is a cultural landmark, too!

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
extra luscious malt
Top Hat Sundae
Camelback soda
Fruit Salad
Tin Roof Sundae
Turkey Salad Sandwich
Lemonade
Jell-O
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

A Tin Roof sundae: vanilla ice cream, chocolate (not fudge) syrup, and a surfeit of little redskin Spanish peanuts. The crunch and saltiness of the little nuts contrasted to the creamy-sweet ice cream makes each spoonful a blast of pleasure. There is plenty of chocolate sauce, but chocoholics can order an extra pitcher for $1.
"A Tin Roof sundae: vanilla ice cream, chocolate (not fudge) syrup, and a surfeit of little redskin Spanish peanuts. The crunch and saltiness of the little nuts contrasted to the creamy-sweet ice cream makes each spoonful a blast of pleasure. There is plenty of chocolate sauce, but chocoholics can order an extra pitcher for $1."
Michael Stern





In keeping with the kitchen's high standards, this refreshing salad is made with freshly-cut fruit. It comes with hunks of house-made nut bread spread with cream cheese.
"In keeping with the kitchen's high standards, this refreshing salad is made with freshly-cut fruit. It comes with hunks of house-made nut bread spread with cream cheese."
Michael Stern


Sodas are served with an extra little glass of seltzer water to add once you've plowed through some of the ice cream on top. This is a black-and-white: vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.
"Sodas are served with an extra little glass of seltzer water to add once you've plowed through some of the ice cream on top. This is a black-and-white: vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup."
Michael Stern


For $1 extra, you can have your shake or malt made extra luscious. This means the inside of the glass is coated with your choice of marshmallow, caramel, or fudge before the shake is poured in. It looks great when it arrives... (see next photo)
"For $1 extra, you can have your shake or malt made extra luscious. This means the inside of the glass is coated with your choice of marshmallow, caramel, or fudge before the shake is poured in. It looks great when it arrives... (see next photo)"
Michael Stern


I used my straw to craw an abstract pattern in the fudge that lined the bittersweet chocolate milk shake glass. It reminded me of Etch-A-Sketch, but I had little control over the pattern. I assume artistic proficiency could be attained after experimenting with several hundred extra luscious milk shakes: a task I would enjoy immensely.
"I used my straw to craw an abstract pattern in the fudge that lined the bittersweet chocolate milk shake glass. It reminded me of Etch-A-Sketch, but I had little control over the pattern. I assume artistic proficiency could be attained after experimenting with several hundred extra luscious milk shakes: a task I would enjoy immensely."
Michael Stern


The 23 Skiddoo parfait, from the bottom: coffee syrup, Kona coffee ice cream, chocolate syrup, walnuts, Dutch chocolate ice cream, whipped cream, and a cherry. Fabulous!
"The 23 Skiddoo parfait, from the bottom: coffee syrup, Kona coffee ice cream, chocolate syrup, walnuts, Dutch chocolate ice cream, whipped cream, and a cherry. Fabulous!"
Chris & Amy Ayers


There is no earthly reason anyone should come to the Sugar Bowl and get Jell-O instead of ice cream, but we always appreciate seeing the jiggly stuff on a menu.
"There is no earthly reason anyone should come to the Sugar Bowl and get Jell-O instead of ice cream, but we always appreciate seeing the jiggly stuff on a menu."
Michael Stern


Of course, the lemonade is freshly squeezed.
"Of course, the lemonade is freshly squeezed."
Michael Stern


This fine turkey salad sandwich is made from a real roasted bird (you can get sliced turkey, too), and it is available on your choice of white, light or dark rye, whole or cracked wheat, or sourdough.
"This fine turkey salad sandwich is made from a real roasted bird (you can get sliced turkey, too), and it is available on your choice of white, light or dark rye, whole or cracked wheat, or sourdough."
Michael Stern


Made with chocolate ice cream, chocolate sauce, and a healthy dose of malt, the Sugar Bowl makes an excellent Dusty Road sundae.
"Made with chocolate ice cream, chocolate sauce, and a healthy dose of malt, the Sugar Bowl makes an excellent Dusty Road sundae."
Cliff Strutz


The limeade is very refreshing and perfect for a hot Arizona day.
"The limeade is very refreshing and perfect for a hot Arizona day."
Cliff Strutz


A whimsical bit of art from the Sugar Bowl's pink menu
"A whimsical bit of art from the Sugar Bowl's pink menu"
Michael Stern


You can find this lovely mural in the back corner above the pink booths.
"You can find this lovely mural in the back corner above the pink booths. "
Cliff Strutz


When the Sugar Bowl opened, Scottsdale was a dusty suburb. The city has since gone upscale and nearly everything for sale in Old Town is extremely expensive. Not the Sugar Bowl. It is an easy-on-the-wallet treat.
"When the Sugar Bowl opened, Scottsdale was a dusty suburb. The city has since gone upscale and nearly everything for sale in Old Town is extremely expensive. Not the Sugar Bowl. It is an easy-on-the-wallet treat."
Michael Stern



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