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The Seattle Ice Cream Power Rankings

PHOTO: Nate Watters
Summer Guide
2018
See the full Summer Guide

We know there’s a loyal contingent of the Seattle population that eats ice cream year-round. We’re part of that contingent, because we can’t help ourselves and winter makes us sad.

But something about enduring months of gray skies and too many lava-hot cortados to the face makes a summer cone that much more satisfying. Which is why, after exhaustive rounds of experimentation and analysis (i.e. eating way too much ice cream), we’re ready to share our official Seattle ice cream power rankings. Here are the 20 places serving the best ice cream in Seattle right now.

THE SPOTS

1

Salt & Straw

Capitol Hill
714 E Pike St Ste A

Usually, we like to think we’re cooler than Portland (because we are), but they did a valiant thing by bringing Salt & Straw to us. Sorry, Kurt Farm Shop - this is our favorite ice cream in Seattle. Whether you’re keeping it simple with the chocolate gooey brownie flavor, or going off the rails with the Beecher’s-cheddar-and-peppercorn-toffee, everything here is something you want to be eating. There’s one location in Capitol Hill and one in Ballard, and the lines at both are ridiculous. But worth it.

2

Kurt Farm Shop

Capitol Hill
1424 11th Ave Ste C2
MAP

Kurt Farm Shop has been around for a few years, making delicious ice cream with milk fresh from their own cows on Vashon Island. This ice cream is simple, but so, so good. Flavors range from Jersey cream to strawberry to bayleaf to salted plum, and they all taste like they were churned a couple seconds before you showed up. Our favorites are the mint and chocolate shortbread flavors - especially together. But note that mint is only around in the summer.

3

Husky Deli

West Seattle
4721 California Ave SW

Husky Deli has been a West Seattle staple for more than 80 years, and with good reason. Their ice cream is perfectly creamy but also light, and there’s a ton of variety - peppermint, caramel pecan fudge, Kona coffee rum, and blackberry cheesecake are all flavors you can get (good luck deciding). They also have Oreo, chocolate Oreo, mint Oreo, and coffee Oreo flavors. Talk about getting your priorities straight.

4

If you’re looking for a place to really go all out, Old School Frozen Custard is where you want to be. Their custard - churned fresh all the time - is extremely rich, and available in chocolate, vanilla, and a couple of other rotating options (we like the matcha and mint chip when they’re available). Pick a flavor and then decide between a sundae, concrete, cone, or homemade cookie sandwich. There’s no wrong choice, unless you don’t get hot fudge.

5
MAP

Frankie & Jo’s is proof that great frozen desserts are great frozen desserts - even if they’re vegan, gluten-free, and occasionally contain ingredients you’d find on a camping trip, like pine needles and charcoal. Every flavor here delivers, from the sweet pea mint chip and salty tahini with chocolate ribbons to the beet strawberry rosewater sorbet. Get it all scooped on a homemade maple oat waffle cone, and don’t be surprised if you go on to choose this place over others serving dairy and wheat. We did, after all.

6

Parfait

Ballard
2034 NW 56th St

When we eat ice cream at Parfait, we feel really good inside. It probably has something to do with the fact that everything’s homemade, down to the oreo-style cookies in the coffee-steeped flavor, peanut butter cups in the dark chocolate, or the herbs they grow themselves for the spearmint stracciatella. But if you can only get one flavor here, it has to be the one that’s sweetened only with local honey. It’s a game-changer.

Summer Guide
2018
See the full Summer Guide
7

We all know how your relationship with Molly Moon’s goes. You stroll past and catch the scent of hot waffle cones wafting across the block, something inside of you snaps, and you immediately hang a sharp turn inside and order a triple scoop. Whether or not it was originally your intention to eat some ice cream, we think you made a good decision, because a trip to Molly Moon’s is a Seattle rite of passage. Their flavors have a focus on local products, like organic Washington peppermint, lavender harvested from the Olympic peninsula, and chocolate spun with melted Theo bars. Look out for seasonal options that sometimes taste even better than the mainstays - like salted toffee, or vegan cherry chocolate chip.

8

If there were ice cream shops as good as Sweet Alchemy near every college campus, nobody would graduate. This University District spot has some flavors you won’t see everywhere else, like makgeolli (Korean rice wine), smoked chocolate, and Persian rose, and some even have housemade cakes and cookie doughs mixed in. Our favorite is the Jitter Bars, which is overloaded with caramel and homemade espresso shortbread (something we could have used a whole lot more of in college).

9

Bluebird Ice Cream

Fremont
3515 Fremont Ave N
MAP

Having dessert at Bluebird Ice Cream is like taking a time machine to an old-school soda fountain. There are vintage kitchen gadgets like rusted hand-crank churners, an antique cash register, diner-style glass sundae cups, and some metal knobs and levers whose functions are mysterious but presumably ice cream-related. They keep the ice cream simple here, with flavors like snickerdoodle, marionberry, and coffee. Get a scoop of peanut butter and a scoop of chocolate chunk together for the frozen peanut butter cup experience you always wanted.

10

Trove

Capitol Hill
500 E. Pike
8.2
MAP

Yes, Trove is a Korean BBQ restaurant, not an ice cream shop. No, that doesn’t disqualify it. You can get dessert here any day, but in the summertime, there’s also a side window surrounded by a whimsical cutout of an ice cream truck where they serve parfaits made with homemade soft serve. The flavors change pretty often, but they’re all as excellent as they are creative, whether you go for chocolate gochujang topped with brownies and salted whipped cream or guava sorbet with hibiscus syrup and coconut jasmine boba. Plus, you get to keep the mason jar yours comes in. Start a little collection.

11
MAP

Bad news: Matchaman is a soft serve pop-up, operating out of poke shops and Eastside karaoke bars with an unpredictable schedule that requires you to do more sleuthing than you did during your 6-month addiction to that Carmen Sandiego computer game. Good news: Once you try it, you will happily put forth the social-media-digging effort it takes to find this place again. The matcha flavor is always available, but other rotating flavors include Thai iced tea, black sesame, ube, Vietnamese iced coffee, and cereal milk. Have it in a taiyaki fish cone fresh off the griddle and topped with some mochi. You’ll understand.

Photo: Matchaman
12

Cupcake Royale makes some of the best cupcakes in the city. So logically, when you crumble said cupcakes into custard mix and freeze it, you’re going to get some of the city’s best ice cream, too. Like buttermilk blended with red velvet cake, and a salted caramel ice cream that’s heavy on the salt (in a good way) but also on the dark chocolate cake. Bonus points if you get the aforementioned ice cream scooped on top of an actual cupcake, which is a thing they somehow allow people to do here. We honestly don’t blame you if wandering to Cal Anderson Park to nap on the softball field is the next thing you do.

13

The Cookie Counter

Greenwood
7415 Greenwood Ave N
MAP

The Cookie Counter earns its spot on our Power Rankings not only because the interior looks like a kindergarten classroom for unicorns, but also because of how convincing the vegan ice cream here is. Go ahead and smush the (very delicious) mint chip and chocolate flavors in a huge waffle cone, and we’d truly never know the difference. Pair all that with their homemade fudgy brownie if you really want to go all out.

14

Sugar Plum

Capitol Hill
324 15th Ave E

Non-dairy soft serve was an untapped niche in this city until Sugar Plum came along and nailed it. This place is the sister bakery of Plum Bistro (a vegan restaurant we really like), and everything inside is cute, vegan, and delicious. They have pastries and scoopable non-dairy ice cream, but you’re going to want to stick with the soft serve. The flavors rotate, but the best we’ve had so far is the salted espresso hemp twisted with dark chocolate almond (always get the twist). Your vegan and lactose-intolerant friends (or self) will love it.

15

Full Tilt is a Seattle classic - their Thai iced tea and coffee Oreo flavors continue to be some of the best scoops of ice cream in this city. And while a few varieties seem like they might have been designed by a highly imaginative toddler (we’re looking at you, mint strawberry chocolate chip with bacon), they still work. The ice cream here is thick enough to stretch when you pull your spoon out, and no matter what, it will always be our breakup pint of choice.

16

Gelatiamo

Downtown
1400 3rd Ave

The best gelato shop in Seattle, and the closest you’ll come to replicating what you ate on your trip to Rome last year. The flavors are all great, from the stracciatella to the rice (which tastes like the best rice pudding you’ve ever had, but frozen, and without any cinnamon or rum). That flavor alone is worth the trip.

17

Sweet Bumpas

Georgetown
6564 5th Ave S

In a part of Georgetown that contains mostly 18-wheel trucks and freight boxcars, you’ll find this little ice cream window called Sweet Bumpas. There’s nothing too fancy here - just good ice cream you want to eat. Be sure to try the cinnamon basil corn cookie and “monkey butt” (banana with homemade peanut butter crunch - kind of like an artisanal Butterfinger).

18

Street Treats

Central District
2407 E Union St Unit C

What used to be a food truck serving homemade ice cream, cookies, and frozen bars is now a very small brick and mortar operation in the Central District. Street Treats consists of a counter, a register, and then some space used solely for dessert production. It’s so bare-bones that you might question whether you’re even in the right place. (If you’re doing that, you are.) Everything’s made from scratch, and it’s highly likely that your ice cream sandwich will involve ridiculously good chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven.

19

D’Ambrosio Gelato

Ballard
5339 Ballard Ave NW

The gelato at D’Ambrosio is so good, you’ll find it in Italian restaurants that don’t feel like making their own. It uses local ingredients, like Fremont Brewing Company beer (in the chocolate porter flavor), and the D’Ambrosio space doubles as an espresso bar in case you want to do an affogato. Which you should.

20

Fainting Goat’s gelato has a nice, light taste - so if you want gelato but also don’t want to feel like you just drank cream from the carton, it’s perfect. We like the range of flavors here, from the biscotti flavor to the (very appropriate) goat’s milk to the roasted almond and the fig, and whatever you order, you’d do well to eat it panini-style inside of a sweet bun.

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