This Sunday, July 16, is National Ice Cream Day, and, while we understand that you may view it as a fake holiday and an excuse to sell more ice cream, we also know that ice cream is delicious and it's the perfect weather for it. So we're using this day as an excuse to remind you that, on our Things To Do calendar, there are comprehensive listings of Seattle ice cream shops, complete with recommendations from our food critic, Tobias Coughlin-Bogue. Below, we've also compiled his picks, plus, at the end of the list, a few find ice cream-related events coming up.
1. Bluebird Ice Cream
Bluebird crafts wonderful, ultra-smooth small-batch ice cream in flavors like chocolate pudding, Elysian stout, and snickerdoodle, as well as an array of from-scratch sodas. Both are good on their own, but even better together in an ice cream float.
Multiple locations: Capitol Hill, Fremont & Phinney
2. Bottega Italiana
Authentic gelateria Bottega Italiana opened in 2003 in Pike Place Market by native Italians Luca Guerrieri, Antonella Ragazzi, and David Arato. The owners are committed to quality, natural ingredients.
3. Central District Ice Cream Company
Darren & Kristine McGil of Nate's Wings and Waffles have opened an ice cream store full of unusual flavors like salted caramel apple pie, matcha and red bean, and chocolate merlot.
4. Cupcake Royale
Cupcake Royale was started in 2003 in Seattle as the first cupcake bakery and cafe outside of New York City, and has since expanded from the original Capitol Hill location to include multiple locations across the city. They have a variety of classic and seasonal flavors, house-made ice cream (some with cupcake pieces!), and espresso drinks.
Multiple locations: Ballard, Capitol Hill, Downtown, Madrona, Queen Anne & West Seattle
5. D'Ambrosio Gelateria Artigianale
University-certified Master Gelataio Enzo D’Ambrosio makes Italian gelato every day, using only the best organic dairy and fruit. You won’t see any experimental hoo-ha involving bacon or cayenne pepper here, only traditional flavors such as nicciola (hazelnut), crema all’uovo (egg cream), and caffe scuro (dark coffee). It’s damn good, rich without being too heavy, it’s not at all icy, and unlike even the densest ice cream, there isn’t so much as a molecule of air whipped into it. It is 100 percent flavor.
6. Ellenos Real Greek Yogurt
I never leave Pike Place Market without a stop at the Ellenos yogurt stand, one of the first delicious discoveries I made before moving here (and if I’m being honest, on my checklist of reasons to relocate). Ellenos is a joint venture of the Klein and Apostolopoulos families, and though they only opened Ellenos in 2013, it has fast become a Seattle institution with the creamiest, most perfectly sweetened Greek yogurt you’ll find anywhere, crafted from a combination of locally-sourced pasteurized whole milk, a super-secret special recipe of probiotic cultures, and a range of fresh, all natural fruits and toppings. I’m a particular fan of the berry mix (made with whole seasonal berries), and the lightly tart and velvety lemon curd. In addition to the Pike Place standby, you can now find yogurt bars at select local grocery stores (PCC, QFC, and Uwajimaya). LEILANI POLK
Multiple locations: Downtown & Georgetown
7. Fainting Goat Gelato
People love this family-owned Wallingford gelato place with its rotating roster of flavors like avocado, amaretto, banana cream pie, bilberry, biscotto, and chocolate (and that’s just the first half-dozen). They use organic milk from Fresh Breeze Farms in Lynden and organic sugar, and they seek out seasonal berries and “the best nuts” (yes!). Some people even love Fainting Goat (and its shorter lines) more than Molly Moon's down the street.
Multiple locations: Fremont & Wallingford
8. Frankie & Jo's
Never in a million years would I think that a vegan ice cream store would have something for me. But the other day I stopped by Frankie & Jo's, because it's two blocks from the office and because I'd heard they sell "ice cream churned from plants," and I had to know what that meant. I kept picturing Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors going into a blender. I kept picturing green ice cream. It's not green. It's... just like regular ice cream. Not only is it vegan, it's gluten-free. You could've fooled me. The Chocolate Date was amazing, tasty, perfectly textured, made with dates, cocoa power, sea salt, and coconut milk. I enjoyed it more than regular chocolate ice cream; granted, I love dates. I also had California Cabin, made with "apple-wood smoked vanilla and pine ice cream, with black-pepper cardamom shortbread." Its ingredient list also includes "roasted cashew nut milk" and "locally foraged fir needles and bark." That sounds weird, but oh my god it was good—subtle, spiced, with bits of cookie crunch. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
9. Full Tilt Ice Cream
The various Full Tilts offer a rotating menu of more than a dozen flavors—including raspberry ripple, toasted coconut, corn and chili, vanilla bean, and mint chocolate chip (with vegan options, too)—arcade and pinball machines, and beer.
Multiple locations: Ballard, Columbia City, University District & White Center
10. Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery
Autumn Martin, former Canlis pastry chef and Theo head chocolatier (and fourth-generation Washingtonian), makes all-organic desserts from carefully sourced, local ingredients. The hybrid soda fountain/dessert cafe features classic desserts (bread pudding, crème brûlée, salted butter toffee) and original treats, plus boozy milkshakes and cocktails. Eat them immediately, or take-and-bake their most popular item, a molten chocolate cake in a four-ounce mason jar.
Multiple locations: Ballard & Capitol Hill
11. Husky Deli
At West Seattle’s most excellent and old-school Husky Deli, you can buy strange European candy and all sorts of things, but mostly you’ll want to get their homemade ice cream—they’ve been making it on-site since “Herman put an ice cream machine in the front window” of the “farms store” in 1932 (seriously).
12. Kurt Farm Shop
Kurt Timmermeister is serving ice cream made from the milk of the Jersey cows on his Vashon Island farm who, up until now, are better known as the suppliers of Dinah’s and Flora’s cheeses. Farm Shop’s flavors include seasonal flavors, as well as Jersey cream and Flora’s cheese. The shop also sells a selection of Northwest-made cheeses, as well as plant and fruit starts from Timmermeister’s farm.
13. Mora Iced Creamery
This Bainbridge Island ice cream shop owned by Ana Orselli and Jerry Perez, natives of Buenos Aires, prides itself on fresh ingredients and "old world" flavors lie marron glacé (glazed chestnut), dulce de leche, and gianduja (chocolate hazelnut mousse). Peruse the 48 flavors on hand—given the ecstatic reviews from Food & Wine magazine, the Seattle Met, and many others, you are unlikely to be displeased with the choices.
Multiple locations: Bainbridge Island>, Poulsbo & Kingston
14. Parfait Organic Artisan Ice Cream
Parfait makes its ice cream in small batches from scratch (unlike some local “homemade” ice-creameries), using all-organic everything (milk, eggs, produce), then dispenses it from a truck and a shop in Ballard (and both are really cute).
15. Scoop Du Jour Ice Creamery
Scoop du Jour, which has a long history in the Madison Park neighborhood, serves brightly colored local sherberts and ice creams, as well as lunch fare like burgers and sandwiches.
16. Seattle Cookie Counter
The Cookie Counter is a new fully vegan sweets store, serving "delicious treats that you might never guess are vegan." In addition to their storefront location, they also operate a vegan ice cream truck in the summer, featuring cookie and brownie ice cream sandwiches, "drummies" (drumsticks), and ice cream bars.
17. Seattle Pops
Seattle Pops' new breed of all-natural frozen treat—inspired by the Mexican paleta—is a far cry from the generic grocery-store ice pops of my youth. Densely made and frozen at very low temperatures, many ice-pop issues—including top breakage, drips, and early stick separation—are a thing of the past (not to sound like an infomercial). What's admirable about the Seattle Pops flavor selection is the lack of pretense and over-experimentation found at too many new ice-cream shops. There's nothing with beets or dates or kale. There's no pops flavored with bone broth or sriracha or bacon. Rather, you'll find simple, tasty offerings like watermelon, orange, chocolate banana (yes, there are actual pieces of banana), cinnamon horchata, and peaches 'n' cream. The one-stop ice-pop shop currently found at farmers markets, grocery stores, and various other locations throughout the city that will soon get its own brick-and-mortar shop in Wallingford. CHASON GORDON
18. Street Treats
In its past life, Street Treats was an ice cream truck, providing frozen decadence to the masses as they all screamed for ice cream. Now, it continues to provide a public service in the form of ice cream sandwiches and baked goods; it just does so behind an actual counter in the Central District. (PRO TIP: The truck is still available for catering for weddings and other shindigs).
19. Sugar Plum
Chef Makini Howell has built a dedicated following among vegans (and plenty of non-vegans, too) with the rich, flavorful food served at her restaurant, Plum Bistro, and her food truck, Plum Burgers. With Sugar Plum, Seattle’s first vegan ice creamery, Howell is serving up a delicious array of ice cream, soft serve, cookies, and cakes, as well as ice cream floats and sandwiches.
Inspired by Thai rolled ice cream, this chef-run mobile shop folds fresh, cold custards flavored with typical (strawberry, chocolate, marshmallow) and unusual (mozzarella, balsamic reduction, bacon) ingredients. Vegan options are available.
21. Sweet Bumpas
Experimentation drives Matt Bumpas, the former pastry chef of Poppy restaurant who now owns Sweet Bumpas. He currently sells his ice cream, which comes in unique flavors like rhubarb pineapple and chipotle peanut brittle, at outdoor markets around the city, as well as for private events and special orders. While he plays around a lot, Bumpas is a technically driven chef. "People think ice cream can't be elevated," he says. "It is a simple thing, but there is a complexity to it that people don't understand. And even people making ice cream don't understand." ANGELA GARBES
22. Sweet Wheels
Sweet Wheels pairs their own cookies with their own homemade ice cream to produce combinations like the T-Bird (chocolate-drizzled espresso cookie with white coffee ice cream) and the Vette (chocolate chip macadamia cookie with vanilla ice cream). You can also build your own or choose a fruit bar or chocolate-drizzled pop. You can find their ice cream sandwich truck at the Lockspot Cafe in Ballard, Ha! in Fremont, Freshy's in West Seattle, Duck Island Ale House in Greenwood, and the Leschi Market in the Central District.
When it comes to flavor, Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi deliver the unexpected. With Trove, the couple adds another layer of creativity, combining four concepts—noodle bar, ice cream truck, beer-focused bar, and Korean tabletop-barbecue joint—into one massive, high-energy space. ANGELA GARBES
Get your espresso, Top Pot doughnuts, local beer, and ice cream at this 25-years-strong neighborhood cafe. They also feature local musicians and invite you to join the fun with open mics.
Ice Cream Events
Through July 16: Ice Cream Week at TRACE
Friday: Babeland's ice cream social
Saturday: Scoops Saturday at Seattle Chocolates
Sunday: Hiawatha Artists Swing Fling Dance & Art Show (complete with an ice cream buffet)
Through Oct 1: Can Can's Ice Cream "doo-wop ice cream shop" production
July 29: Ice Cream Social at South Lake Union Saturday Market