Food & Drink

We Tried All of Seattle's Best Ice Cream, and You Should Too

Published On 06/23/2016 Published On 06/23/2016
Bluebird Ice Cream

Bluebird Ice Cream

Capitol Hill (& other locations)

This oh-so-artisanal "Microcreamery" boasts three locations where they serve the usual coffee/frozen dairy desserts. But since 2014 -- when they were inspired by a beer-flavored ice cream created in collaboration with their Capitol Hill neighbor, Elysian Brewing -- Bluebird has been brewing its own beer and craft sodas (often in dessert-appropriate flavors) and serving 'em in their shops. So, in other words, screw the root beer float.

Cupcake Royale

Cupcake Royale

Capitol Hill (& other locations)

When it opened over a dozen years ago, CR was Seattle's first cupcake bakery (now there are six spots spread throughout the city). Killing the individual baked goods competition apparently wasn't enough, so last year the crew launched one of Seattle's best donut operations, and before that, started slinging seriously next-level ice cream available in a selection of rotating flavors ranging from the standout red velvet cupcake, to coffee with dark chocolate ribbon, made with Stumptown's Hair Bender brew.

Full Tilt

Ballard (& other locations)

Started in White Center in 2008, FT's four locations are worth checking out for the old-school video game/pinball machines lining the walls, as well as the solid selection of Northwest beers on tap, and the eclectic collection of tunes bumping in the background. But then, there is the ice cream: rich, creamy stuff that’s still light enough to make you eat more than you should, and is available in an array of sometimes-too-creative flavors ranging from bourbon maple walnut and coffee Oreo, to peanut butter & jelly and strawberry basil.

Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream

Molly Moon's

Capitol Hill (& other locations)

MM's seven almost invariably tiny ice creameries are charming -- and crowded! -- but who can blame people for lining up to shove a scoop of handmade "Scout" mint ice cream made with real Girl Scout Cookies (one of the few ingredients not produced locally), or Melted Chocolate, flavored with bars bought from Theo, or local strawberry sorbet in their faces? Not us. Oh no, not us.

Nutty Squirrel Gelato

Nutty Squirrel Gelato

Maple Valley (& other locations)

Boasting three brick-and-mortar spots, plus a vivid red trike that gets trotted out at farmers markets and catering gigs, this gelato operation is named for the nuts (hazelnut, pistachio, peanuts, etc.) found in many of its flavors, which rotate seasonally. In addition to scoops, the cream is available in "pop" form, or in an affogato... which basically just means you pour fresh-brewed espresso over it.

Old School Frozen Custard

Old School Frozen Custard

Capitol Hill

This venerable creamery once had three stores under its belt, but all of them were closed by April of this year. Then the original location was resurrected a month later -- with all of the same recipies, much of the same staff, etc. -- by a husband-and-wife team who loved the place and its classic flavors, like cookies & cream, chocolate malt, raspberry, etc., too much to see it go. Plus, the wife's cookie company was already providing the cookies OSFC uses in its ice cream sandwiches, so this was clearly a no-brainer.

Shug's Soda Fountain + Ice Cream

Shug's Soda Fountain + Ice Cream

Pike Place Market

This bright, brand-new (but still seriously old-fashioned) spot, complete with a restored soda fountain from the '30s, doesn't make its own ice cream. But it'll gladly serve you some from Lopez Island Creamery by the scoop, in a sundae, or float-style with beer or Champagne, OR by mixing carbonated water with house-made syrups in a variety of flavors. Even better, there are plans to start serving ice cream cocktails soon.

Parfait Ice Cream

Parfait

Ballard

This former mobile dessert operation prides itself on making organic, artisan ice cream with local ingredients sourced almost entirely from a variety of area farms, or even right in the neighborhood (Theo Chocolate, True North Coffee Roasters, etc.). But it also takes pride in serving said ice cream creatively, which is why you owe yourself a trip to Parfait's novelty freezer, where you'll find everything from from ice cream macaroons, to ice cream cakes, to push-up pops like the ones you used to eat as a kid... only way better.

Trove

Capitol Hill

It's a little hard to figure this pretty new restaurant out -- is it a noodle house? BBQ joint? But one thing is very clear: the ice cream it's serving from a walk-up window (whimsically decorated so it looks like an ice cream truck) by the door is not to be missed. Available in flavors ranging from Cinnamon Toast Crunch to bananas Foster, Trove's to-go-style sundaes come in a glass mug that you can keep, or return when you come back (trust us, you'll come back) and get a buck off your next dessert.

Snoqualmie Ice Cream

Snoqualmie Ice Cream

Snohomish, WA

This stuff's available in almost every Seattle-area grocery store, but it's worth a trip into the foothills of the Cascade Range to check out Snoqualmie’s adorably small-town scoop shop, where there are over 40 flavors on offer and, in addition to getting a cone, you can totally buy that same pint on sale at the QFC down the road from your house.

D'Ambrosio Gelato

D'Ambrosio Gelato

Ballard (& other locations)

Launched in 2010, and run by a father-and-son team, this operation combines premium Italian and Northwest ingredients to create an authentic, but uniquely "Seattle" style, of gelato. Made from scratch daily at the Ballard location, the can't-miss flavors include chocolate hazelnut, the signature pistachio, and mascarpone-based tiramisu.

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1. Bluebird Brewing 7400 Greenwood Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103 (Phinney Ridge)

This being Seattle and all, of course there's a "microcreamery" doling out boozy, ice cream confections in Cap Hill. Sharing a space with Elysian Brewing, this retro-esque soda fountain cum craft brew bar serves sweet sodas (Snickerdoodle, Root Beer,), and dessert-focused beers, like the Theo Chocolate Milk Stout and Caffe Vita Coffee Porter.

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2. Cupcake Royale 2052 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107 (Ballard)

The little cupcake shop that could expanded from one location to six, and since apparently complete cupcake domination of the Queen City wasn't enough, started doling out handmade artisanal donuts and now, ice cream at all their outposts. Creative confections using seasonal ingredients reign supreme, ranging from a Whiskey Maple Bacon cupcake, to Fresh Mint and Fudge Ribbon ice cream.

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3. Full Tilt Ice Cream 5453 Leary Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107 (Ballard)

This pairing of two of our favorite things (pinball and ice cream) scores with fresh, inventive flavors. Bourbon maple walnut, coffee Oreo, peanut butter & jelly, and strawberry basil are just some of the flavors on offer at this Seattle area mini-chain. Local Pacific Northwest craft beer and flavored coffees and iced teas will whet your whistle if all the rich and creamy options have got you thirsty.

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4. Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream 917 E Pine St, Seattle, WA 98122 (Capitol Hill)

This friendly albeit pint-sized Capitol Hill scoop shop offers gourmet, homemade ice cream using seasonal ingredients. Ice cream aficionados line up around the block for fresh flavors like Homey Lavender, Maple Walnut, and Stumptown Coffee. Vegan friendly sorbet and coconut-milk based scoops are also churned out on the regular.

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5. Nutty Squirrel Gelato 7212 Greenwood Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103 (Greenwood)

This family owned and operated gelato shop's got three locations across greater Seattle doling out fresh scoops of housemade gelato and sorbetto. True to its name, nutty flavors (hazelnut, pistachio) feature prominently, but the shop also offers fruity flavors that'll satisfy any sweet tooth, plus some more experimental options like avocado cream, chili chocolate, and mango haberno.

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6. Old School Frozen Custard 1316 E Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122 (Capitol Hill)

This husband and wife duo's old school creamery churns out classic frozen custard in a retro-esque scoop shop in Capitol Hill. You can get your custard in a waffle cone, but we suggest a more exciting option in the form of a cookie sandwich, courtesy of the wife's cookie company, who makes all of their cookies in house. Tasty flavors like Bananas Foster, Pina Colada, and Snicker Doodle are sure to satisfy.

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7. Shug's Soda Fountain and Ice Cream First Avenue, Seattle, WA (Downtown)

This cute as a button soda fountain in Pike Place Market leans heavily on its retro charm and 1950s' by way of Pinterest aesthetic from its cheery wallpaper to its cozy counter top seating. Stop by for boozy ice cream floats, made with your choice of Champagne or beer, classic hot fudge sundaes, and ice cream cocktails. Friendly service, in addition to the fresh flavors provided by Lopez Creamery, will make you smile from ear to ear.

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8. Parfait 2034 NW 56th St, Seattle, WA 98107 (Ballard)

This formerly mobile-only scoopery turned brick and mortar in Ballard is truly a local operation. By sourcing their ingredients from its milk to its produce entirely from network of Washington State farmers and small batch outposts, Parfait offers distinctly fresh and flavorful organic treats ranging from ice cream cakes, pies, cookie sandwiches, macarons, and old good fashioned cones.

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9. Trove 500 E Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122 (Capitol Hill)

This vibrant and bustling Korean BBQ/shabu shabu shop and noodle den serves up imminently slurpable soups and grilled meat and veggie sides in addition to pouring up a nice selection of international craft brews at their in-house bar. Come summertime, be sure to stroll by their window and sample frozen custard parfait treats served out of a pop-up "ice cream" truck facade.

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10. Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream 21106 86th Ave SE, Snohomish, WA 98296 (Snoqualmie)

This hard to pronounce (but simply delicious) scoop shop in the rural, hilltop environs outside Seattle is well worth the both tongue-twisting and the trek. Sure, it's available in most Seattle-area grocery stores, but why not take a trip to Snoqualmie Ice Cream HQ in Snohomish and visit the grounds where all the over 40 fresh flavors are hand churned? There's nothing better (or more local) than sampling a scoop of French Lavender ice cream after touring the gardens where its ingredients were grown!

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11. D’Ambrosio Gelato 5339 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107 (Ballard)

Get your gelato fix courtesy of this father and son duo doling out fresh flavors on the regular in their cafe-like Ballard area storefront. By combining Pacific Northwest bred ingredients with traditional Italian flavors, the folks at D'Ambrosio offer up uniquely "Seattle" options like creamy chocolate Tiramisu made with fresh marscapone. A full service espresso bar amps up the space's Euro chic vibe and satisfies any and all caffeine cravings.