Are there stronger signs of gentrification than vegan ice-cream joints? Maybe the flotation spa nearby has Frankie & Jo's beat. But if we're going to have nouveau-riche luxury in 2019 Seattle, it might as well transpire without cruelty to animals.
Frankie & Jo's bolsters your moral rectitude while hitting you with many flavors you can't find elsewhere. Their niche is narrow, but they excel with dairy-free élan. (Note that Makini Howell's Sugar Plum has been peddling vegan ice cream since 2015, so Frankie & Jo's follows in sizable footsteps.)
Located within The Stranger's coveted two-block radius, Frankie & Jo's offers 10 different variations of plant-based ice cream, plus one sorbet (Beet Strawberry Rose). When I visited, I had a serious ice-cream appreciator—my girlfriend—accompany me to offer seasoned observations. We hit the place at 6 p.m. on a weekday, before the post-dinner rush. Walking by Frankie & Jo's at 7:30 p.m. two days later, I spotted a line out the door.
Frankie & Jo's is in an airy, small, well-lit space with a high ceiling. It offers two longish tables with seven stools, but considering Cal Anderson Park is only two blocks away, it would behoove you to take a stroll. I ordered the Gingered Golden Milk, its turmeric and cardamom lending it Indian cuisine hints, the sort of radical move I didn't expect to enjoy. (I'm something of a derelict dessert-consumer.) This version was indeed creamy, but not excessively so. The maple vanilla waffle cone is made of gluten-free oat flour, and it's firm and crunchy, with no artificial sweetener aftertaste. Honestly, I could be satisfied just eating the cone, but I'm weird that way.
My girlfriend tried the Jamocha Chaga Fudge. She found the texture to be not as smooth as regular ice cream, citing its somewhat gummy pull, although the toasted almonds lent it a pop. She also praised its richness and ability to satisfy chocolate craving without being overly sweet. "Decadent yet strangely light," she concluded, which could serve as Frankie & Jo's slogan.
I also ordered the Salty Caramel Ash, which consists of "dry-burned caramel blended with activated charcoal and sea salt." Its disconcertingly dark-gray hue makes it look like some kind of industrial putty. Perhaps my tongue was frozen from the Gingered Golden Milk, but its flavor struck me as the epitome of neutrality—the equivalent of eating the concept of ice cream. I bet Charles Mudede would like it.
The new monthly seasonal flavors include Fruta (a piquant, citrusy wonder that tastes healthy af), Mexico Morning, and Veracruz Vanilla, the latter two of which I've not tried. If you're a traditionalist, you can't go wrong with their Brown Sugar Vanilla, a slight spin on an ultimate comfort dish.
Experienced consumers will note that Frankie & Jo's prices are higher than those in non-vegan places, but surely nutritional yeast is worth it? Think of the added cost as a green tax, and feel virtuous about not contributing to environmental degradation, however infinitesimally.