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Dessert in the Desert: Stray Dogs

Stray Dogs’ outrageous milkshakes, donuts,
and ice cream sandwiches will satisfy any sweet tooth.

February 7, 2017

Dessert in the Desert

Taking pictures of your food has never been so easy.

Not only are the loaded milkshakes at Stray Dogs Instagram-worthy beyond compare, they’re delicious, sweet, and unlike anything else in Tucson.

Located in the old Zona 78 building on River Road west of Stone Avenue, Stray Dogs serves an array of our favorite comfort foods, including burgers, hot dogs, and fries. And honestly, what goes better with a burger and fries than a milkshake?

“We’ve had shakes on the menu since we opened,” Lauren Valenzuela, Stray Dogs Marketing and Social Media Manager, said. “In June or July of last year, we started to try these outrageous shakes.”

If you’re both a foodie and Facebook user, you’ve probably seen videos of the crazy concoctions happening in California and New York — Rainbow Bagels, Unicorn Hot Chocolate, and most recently, Cookie Dough Cones. Who says Tucson can’t get in on the fun?

The Donut Milkshake is just one of the outrageous shakes you can order at Stray Dogs.

The Donut milkshake is just one of the outrageous shakes you can order at Stray Dogs.

“There’s a lot of other restaurants in the country doing over-the-top things, so we’ve definitely been inspired by other people,” Valenzuela said. “We wanted to have something on our menu that was really fun and would get people excited to try new things.”

“It’s a fun outlet for our team to be expressive and creative,” she said. “We wanted to do something different. I don’t know of anywhere else you can get milkshakes like this. I think people are surprised when the milkshake comes out almost every time. They just gasp and get their phones out for pictures. It’s fun and something we take a lot of pride in.”

And despite the name of this series, some people actually order the loaded shakes before their entree. So really, the shakes double as a beverage and a dessert. Where can you go wrong?

Stray Dogs has three standard shakes, including:

  • The Munchies — A vanilla shake with M&M’s, potato chips, pretzels, and Ritz crackers, garnished with chocolate frosting, a homemade Rice Krispie treat, two cinnamon sugar donut holes, a pretzel stick, whipped cream, and caramel
  • Churrochatta — A horchata milkshake with salted caramel, garnished with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, whipped cream, caramel, and made-to-order churros
  • Donut — A Butterfinger milkshake, garnished with chocolate, Kix cereal, whipped cream, sprinkles, Butterfinger crumbles, a made-to-order sprinkled donut

“We wanted to do something unique to us, but also to the Tucson flair, like the Churrochatta milkshake,” Valenzuela said. “Churros and horchata — that’s Tucson. You know that’s us.”

The Churrochatta Milkshake at Stray Dogs doubles as a beverage and a dessert.

The Churrochatta Milkshake at Stray Dogs doubles as a beverage and a dessert.

Every two weeks, Stray Dogs features a new milkshake. Currently, they’re dabbling with Girl Scout Cookies.

“For the specials, it can be spontaneous, but we also think about the season and the time of year,” she said. “I had a poll online to see if people wanted a shake with Samoas or Thin Mints. Ultimately, it was so neck and neck that we decided to both.”

During the holiday season, the restaurant featured flavors such as cranberry white chocolate cheesecake and baked apple pie (which had a candied apple on top!). They’ve also done strawberry mascarpone with strawberry shortcake, hot chocolate with peppermint bark, and pumpkin spice.

“I think a lot of the things we do best are the standard guilty pleasures — peanut butter cups, deep-fried Oreos or Twinkies, birthday cake.”

And while the shakes definitely look outrageously large (in the best way possible), Valenzuela said that diners are usually able to finish the whole thing, especially if they’re sharing.

“It’s the strangest thing when you have these 20-year-old sorority girls who come in, and they’ll have a burger, a plate of Ranch fries, and a milkshake, and they will crush it,” Valenzuela said.

Donuts can be ordered with or without a milkshake at Stray Dogs.

Donuts can be ordered with or without a milkshake at Stray Dogs.

And if you just aren’t in the mood for a milkshake as big as the loaded ones, Stray Dogs offers smaller, simpler milkshakes in vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and Oreo flavors. The restaurant also recently introduced “Get Loaded” shakes, which are alcoholic.

Other than shakes, Stray Dogs serves cake donuts and cookie ice cream sandwiches for dessert.

The donuts are made fresh daily with frosting added to order. People can ask for specific toppings, but usually an order of donuts comes with various garnishes.

“The girls have a lot of fun with the donuts because they can put all the toppings they want,” Valenzuela said. Toppings include Oreos, cereal, sprinkles, M&M’s, gummy worms, potato chips, and so much more.

Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich at Stray Dogs.

Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich at Stray Dogs.

And don’t forget about the cookie ice cream sandwich, which is made with two fresh, perfectly soft chocolate chip cookies and stuffed with about three and a half scoops of ice cream. The sandwich is then rolled in your topping of choice, including sprinkles, Oreos, and Butterfingers.

“We just like to have fun with it,” Valenzuela said. “We want people to come, and to be excited.”

“We have parents who come in and tell us their kids got straight A’s and that this dessert is their reward. That makes my day. We want to be people’s special place to come and indulge,” she added.

Stray Dogs
78 W. River Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85704
520-888-7878


Dessert in the Desert is a new series highlighting desserts in Tucson. The main courses at restaurants get all the rage, as they should, but what about desserts? They deserve a spotlight, too. 


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