When in Rome, you do as the Romans do. When in Columbus, Ind., you go to Zaharakos.
This isn’t any old Dairy Queen. Stepping in the door of Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor is like traveling back in time. The place is jam-packed with period furnishings that date back to the turn of the century (1900, not 2000). I’m talking everything from original soda fountains to orchestrions that might make you think you’d stepped inside a circus tent, Tiffany-style lamps, exquisitely carved oak detailing and gorgeous marble countertops. There’s not a blemish, stain or scratch to be seen anywhere; everything is in such good shape, you’d swear Zaharakos just opened their doors for business yesterday and not more than 100 years ago.
This Columbus institution — it’s a registered historic landmark — serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, but no matter what time of day you visit, you’ll definitely want to tack some ice cream onto your order. They make everything in house, from the eight flavors of ice cream to the syrups, sauces and even the fresh waffle cones.
Serving sizes are generous, too. A single scoop fills up a sundae glass and is actually more like the two scoops you get elsewhere for twice the price (ahem, cough, Baskin Robbins).
After much consideration, I opted for a straight-up hot fudge sundae with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and a cherry on top. It was perfect from the first spoonful to the last. Zaharakos puts the syrup in the bottom of the glass so it doesn’t melt all the ice cream before you’re ready. And if that’s not enough chocolatey goodness for you, you can ask for a small additional sauceboat on the side.
My friend ordered a sundae with butter pecan ice cream and caramel sauce, which looked equally as tasty. As we sat at the bar, we got to see all sorts of other yummy concoctions taking shape; the neon yellow lemon cream sodas were especially eye-catching.
I only wished someone would have ordered a house specialty Green River Float. I was a little too scared to try one, but wanted to get a look at it. Elsewhere on the menu, you’ll find old-fashioned malts, milkshakes, fountain sodas and that tried-and-true classic, the banana split.
Trust me on this. If you’re in Columbus, you owe it to yourself to stop in Zaharakos.
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