This is the place to go when you want Elysian stout in a cone. The Fremont location boasts a cool vintage soda fountain and a lineup of floats to match, while the outpost on Greenwood Avenue incorporates a mini brewery for beer floats. One last important note: snickerdoodle ice cream forever, amen.
Pizzelle ice cream sandwiches! Unicorn-shaped macarons! Plus a case of rotating flavors with an Asian street food bent, like smoked sweet tea or pineapple li hing mui—stuff that begs to be held aloft in a waffle cone for maximum Instagrammage.
Long before Salt and Straw graced our dining scene, Jody Hall’s cupcake empire started churning housemade flavors of its own. They were developed with help from her good old friend Kim Malek—you know, cofounder of the aforementioned, and beloved, Portland ice creamery. Behold such creations as cheesecake with red velvet cupcake chunks and caramel ribbons swirled alongside roasted banana and hunks of brownie.
Baker Charlie Dunmire, who recently graduated from an Airstream trailer to a charming brick-and-mortar shop in Georgetown, fashions towering beauties like a ginger-molasses cake, its nine layers soaked in a syrup of stout and molasses. Or a s’mores-inspired confection layered with ganache and crowned with toasted whitecaps of marshmallow. Get them by the slice, with a scoop of locally churned Sweet Lo’s ice cream when production allows, or buy a pint to go.
Juicebox’s Kari Brunson and Hot Cakes founder Autumn Martin created a lineup of vegan ice cream that’s crazy decadent, deeply flavored, and in no way a dietary consolation prize. Their scoop shop serves frequently rotating flavors, like brown sugar vanilla, gingered golden milk (which tastes, in the best possible way, of pure ginger), and salty caramel ash that’s sweet and salty and the color of a thunderstorm cloud. Ice cream comes in a cup or gluten-free vanilla-maple waffle cone, and you can top them with things like chocolate sauce or moon goo, the housemade caramel sauce.
Marvel at owner Justin Cline’s peculiar but brilliant formula: pinball plus beer plus ice cream. Cline takes his game selection as seriously as his flavors, which can vary from Vietnamese cinnamon to mango chili to root beer (bonus points for vegan flavors that aren’t lame). A visit to any of Full Tilt’s five locations will probably feature a raucous soundtrack, a short but solid beer list, and the incessant plingplingpling of arcade games. Really, it’s more “world’s most wholesome dive bar” than “treacly sweet shop,” but we’re glad it’s a little bit of both.
The seasons of Kurt Timmermeister’s Vashon Island dairy farm drive the bucolic creations at his counter in Chophouse Row: salted plum, Sichuan peppercorn, and glorious ice cream versions of his famed Flora’s Cheese, which is a lovely, savory departure from the typically too-sweet flavors of grocery aisles.
While we certainly have cupcakes covered, Seattle once fell short when it came to the cold, creamy stuff. (Those were dark days.) That all changed with the opening of Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream in Wallingford, now a full-blown empire with outposts all around town. An 11pm closing time and flavors like balsamic strawberry and Stumptown coffee hinted that owner Molly Moon Neitzel wasn’t just catering to the kiddies; a whopping 19 percent butterfat content sealed it. Her rich scoops turned out to be well-balanced, complex confections that transform the most sober adult into the kind of obsessive who runs after ice cream trucks (again).
Adria Shimada makes her own ice cream base from scratch and grows her own spearmint for the vividly herbaceous (but not the traditional artificially green-colored) mint stracciatella. Which is to say, she’s about as artisan as ice cream gets, though flavors skew more homespun—dark chocolate ice cream with bits of housemade peanut butter cup, blackberry, and the purest strawberry ice cream known to mankind. Parfait’s cheery Ballard atelier also sells push pops and macarons filled with ice cream, but the neighborhood’s favorite is the smooth coffee ice cream, fueled by True North Coffee Roasters, with chunks of housemade Oreo.
Cousins and owners Kim and Tyler Malek founded Salt and Straw in Portland in 2011, dispensing flavors that take people on a roller coaster ride—the sweet, nostalgia-hitting highs, the gasp-inducing drops into savory notes. And much like thrilling attractions, Salt and Straw tends to draw lines. People are known to queue down the block to get a taste of whatever experiments Tyler, the flavor nerd of the pair, has churned into creamy goodness.
This old school ice cream parlor on the First Avenue edge of Pike Place Market is charming as all get out, from the vintage soda fountain serving floats and egg creams (even ice cream–based cocktails) to the airy sky blue color scheme. Lopez Island Creamery supplies the 15-ish flavors; they’re lovely on their own, but even better in Shug’s menu of wonderfully elaborate sundaes: The Brown Derby stacks your preferred scoop atop a doughnut; the bruleed banana split requires an actual tiny butane torch.
Pick a flavor (cookie dough, toasted coconut, a season red velvet perhaps) and two homespun cookies (snickerdoodle, chocolate chip, brown sugar). And behold: baseball-size custom ice cream sandwich. The walkup counter in the Central District fronts a busy production space, but seats can be had in the parklet down the street.
Vegan champion Makini Howell doesn’t spread the plant-based gospel through savory dishes alone, oh no. The restaurateur’s quaint sweet shop dispenses soft scoops of seasonal delight: hibiscus cherry ginger, rhubarb orange blossom, and avocado lavender with black pepper, which isn’t too floral or spicy but balanced despite its atypical combo.
This longtime ice cream cart that solely appeared at farmers markets now proffers the herbaceous talents of former Poppy pastry chef Matt Bumpas from a daytime walk-up window. Bumpas’s culinary bona fides come through in flavors like Moroccan honey or chipotle peanut butter. And ice cream names don’t get much better than Monkey Butt—a wedding of banana and peanut butter crunch.
To say the parfaits at Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi’s Capitol Hill fourplex are a departure from the classic vanilla cone would be an understatement. Their surprising flavors like buttermilk custard with mochi and Thai basil syrup, or mandarin soft-serve with coconut-jasmine tapioca are served through the ice cream truck window on the restaurant’s Pike Street facade. You can return the mason jars they arrive in for a $1 discount.
Consider the Popsicle
Ice cream is the prom queen of desserts. People scream for it, vote it most popular—Instagram scoops stacked high like triumphant towers of churned cream. But, hold up. The real summertime savior is the humble, underappreciated ice pop. Portable and punctuated with a clarity of fruit and juice, popsicles are exactly what’s called for on the rare sweltering Seattle day. So blessed be our one dedicated den of treats, Seattle Pops, that slings such frozen riches year-round. Tidy rows of popsicles beckon, a cold treasure chest of jewels in fruit hues of mango chile, strawberry, passion fruit, guava, and lime, while chocolate banana, Kona coffee, coconut, and horchata bring the cream. Seattle Pops, a longtime farmer’s market favorite, joined the brick-and-mortar club in 2017 when it opened its doors in Wallingford. It’s a place where gemstone-tinted dessert assumes its rightful status as pop royalty. —Rosin Saez
This article was updated on July 18 at 10:55am to reflect that red velvet is a seasonal flavor at Street Treats.