This Sunday, July 15, 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 critics. Below, we've also compiled their picks, plus, at the end of the list, a few ice cream-related events coming up.
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
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.
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.
Cloud Nine Creamery
At this showy mad-scientist ice cream lab, glass walls let guests watch their ice cream being frozen before their eyes with liquid nitrogen, which is said to produce creamier ice cream because of its rapid freezing process (which inhibits larger ice crystals from forming).
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
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.
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
This "ice cream boutique" serves locally sourced, handcrafted flavors made with liquid nitrogen to create a smoother texture. Customers can choose from five bases (custard, cream, chocolate, gelato, or sorbet); flavors like quinoa, olive oil, rhubarb, or pistachio rose; optional waffle cones or bowls; and stunning toppings like edible flowers or chocolate pearls.
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
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
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
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).
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.
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
Nutty Squirrel Gelato
“True to the Northwest, our flavors change with the seasons,” say the owners of Nutty Squirrel Gelato, which uses local fruit and nuts in its house-made gelato and sorbetto, as well as gelato popsicles and cakes.
Multiple locations: Magnolia, Phinney, and Maple Valley
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).
Rachel's Ginger Beer
Because RGB's name is so synonymous with spicy-sweet soda, it's easy to forget that they also offer soft-serve ice cream, available twirled into fizzy floats or cold brew (with an optional shot of booze of your choice), or as a cup with optional toppings like Theo Chocolate syrup, frosted flakes, Reese's peanut butter cups, SKOR bars, and more.
Multiple locations: Capitol Hill, Downtown, and University District
Salt and Straw
This Portland-based artisan ice creamery has opened two locations in Seattle this year. Aside from its perilously lengthy queues, the chain is perhaps best known for its intriguing flavor collabs with local producers, so look for their interpretations of beloved Seattle fixtures in the form of flavors like Beecher's Cheese with peppercorn toffee, raspberry Rachel's Ginger Beer coconut cream, Ellenos Yogurt matcha, and Elm Coffee with Westland Distillery Whiskey. Each month, they also release a lineup of limited edition flavors around a different theme.
Multiple locations: Ballard and Capitol Hill
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.
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.
This doughnut and soft serve shop from Darren McGill and Kryse Martin-McGill, the husband-and-wife team that brought you such hits as Happy Grillmore, Central District Ice Cream, and Nate's Wings and Waffles, serves Filipino-inspired baked goods from Big Boys and Poke Wai and churns up frosty treats with an ice cream base and add-ins like chocolate chips. For now, they're softly open and may sell out—check their Instagram for hours.
Shug's Soda Fountain and Ice Cream
A retro-style, pastel-colored dream of a shop, all built around a restored 1930s-era soda fountain, featuring egg creams, sodas made with housemade syrups, 15 ice cream flavors from Lopez Island Creamery (including a few vegan options), sundaes, and floats. There’s beer and wine too, as well as a short menu of savory soups, sandwiches, and salads.
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).
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.
The top three words used to describe the ice cream sold at Sweet Alchemy are creamy, creamy, and creamy! With unique flavors ranging from banana Nutella to a dirty chai affogato, there seems to be a sweet treat for everyone.
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
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
Friday, July 13: Model Call: Snag a Free Cone
Saturday: July 14: Swirle Rolled Ice Cream Grand Opening
Through July 15: Ice Cream Week Spectacular
Saturday, July 28: Hullabamoo Ice Cream Social
Sunday, July 29: Molly’s at the Market