Nielsen's Frozen Custard

Ice cream
$$$$ ($14 and under)
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Editorial Review

Candy Sagon wrote about Nielsen's Frozen Custard for The Washington Post.

At Nielsen's Frozen Custard in Vienna, it's a concrete summer. That's vanilla concrete, if you're like my daughter, who weekly reminds me of the risk of dehydration and calcium deficiency during these hot, sticky summer days and suggests that maybe a trip to Nielsen's for its signature treat is, "you know, like, medically necessary."

Once there, she opts for a concrete -- Nielsen's thick, spoonable, frozen vanilla custard mixed with add-ins like Oreos or strawberries or chocolate chips and piled into a 16-ounce cup for $4.65. She can't eat it all, of course, which is why a couple of friends need to come along as well.

Nielsen's is perfect for this. Housed in an old-fashioned-looking brick building with wood floors, lazily turning fans and historic photos of the Vienna and Tysons area, it's become a magnet for kids, parents, seniors -- everyone in love with the cool, velvety feel of rich frozen custard and the need for a comfortable, homey place to enjoy it.

This Nielsen's is a branch of the original one in Salt Lake City. It was opened last September by partners Steve Johnson and Tony Favero. Johnson, who manages the place, grew up in the area and said he and Favero deliberately wanted a place that maintained Vienna's small-town feel.

What makes their frozen custard special, says Johnson, is the hand-built, patented machines that Nielsen's uses to quickly freeze the liquid custard mixture so that very little air gets mixed in. That, he says, is what gives frozen custard its thick, smooth taste. Surprisingly, Johnson says his frozen custard is actually lower in butterfat than ice cream.

Single cones of frozen custard run $1.85 for a child-size portion to $2.75 for a single ($3.44 for a single with flavor mix-ins). Nielsen's also offers grinders (the New England term for subs) that run about $5.15.