The COVID-19 pandemic forced many dessert shops in Seattle to close down temporarily in 2020. But this summer, many have hit their stride once again, and should provide at least some temporary relief from the heat. Here’s a guide to some of the city’s best spots for the frozen treat, serving up various pints, drippy cones, vegan options, and beyond. They are listed from north to south.
The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.
Bluebird Ice Cream
Flavors at this popular Phinney Ridge shop often feature ingredients from neighboring businesses such as Theo Chocolate Chunk and Herkimer Coffee, and the occasional beer-flavored concoction. It’s now open for takeout, as well as pops up at farmers markets around the city (the home delivery service has been paused for the summer).
Nutty Squirrel Gelato
The most charming little tricycle in town, this gelato- and sorbetto-packed catering vehicle has done tons of time at weddings, fueling the need for expansions. Now it’s offering a selection of enticing scoops, such as Mount Rainier S’mores and Lavender Lemonade, as well as gelato sandwich kit available for online orders.
Salt and Straw
One of Portland’s most famous attractions continues its Seattle expansion, with Ballard, Capitol Hill, and Kirkland open for takeout and delivery. Inventive flavors often include Seattle originals with local ingredients like Westland Whiskey and Ellenos Yogurt. Current offerings include scoops inspired by camping, including Mushroom Muddy Buddies and Maple & Bacon Streusel.
Gelato is made onsite daily at this Ballard shop, featuring some classic Italian flavors, such as tiramisu, as well as some stracciatella and sorbetto options and a selection of affogato. It’s currently offering curbside pickup and delivery through apps like Grubhub.
Full Tilt Ice Cream
Over the years, this funky local chain has become known for more than scoops, as it’s expanded into more of a bar and pinball arcade. During the pandemic, it has mostly stuck to the basics at locations around the city in Columbia City, Ballard, U District, and White Center, serving up stellar scoops of huckleberry chip, coffee Oreo, Thai iced tea, and more.
Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream
The popular Seattle franchise hasn’t missed much of a beat over the past year, with outposts still going strong in Wallingford, Capitol Hill, Madrona, Queen Anne, U Village, and Bellevue (with a new flagship). On offer are classic flavors such as salted caramel and scout mint, and there are also pints available at local grocers such as PCC Community Markets and Met Market.
Sweet Alchemy Ice Creamery
This small batch ice cream shop tries to reduce food waste and pasteurizes its dairy daily from local farms. It’s also known for a wide variety of rich flavors, including banana Nutella crunch, London fog, and lemon custard. There are locations in the U District, Ballard, and Capitol Hill, as well as local delivery.
Frankie and Jo's
Co-owners Autumn Martin and Kari Brunson joined forces to bring Capitol Hill vegan ice cream (made with sprouted cashew milk and gum free coconut milk) that are satisfying and inventive. The textures are on point, and delightful flavor combinations include salty lime and watermelon and banana tahini. In addition to Capitol Hill there are locations in Ballard and U Village.
Kryse Panis Martin has quickly built buzz with her new scoops project, serving up inventive ice cream at locations such as Beacon Hill coffee shop The Station. The offerings go fast, but exciting new flavors, such as coconut ginger jasmine, are added regularly. Check Instagram for updates on where to find the treats and when to place orders.
Seattle, WA 98144
Those who’ve sampled Homer’s popular soft serve walk-up window should be familiar with the inventive flavors at the sibling Beacon Hill spot. Fig-leaf coconut with Rainier cherry and caramel with turmeric peach are available as a swirl, along with dips and a selection of toppings (including cocoa nibs, M&Ms, and pretzels) for extra pop.
There’s currently a months-long waiting list for the highly sought-out pizza at this charming West Seattle spot. But soft serve is regularly available for walk-ins, topped with a selection of flavored syrups, like black cherry and cool mint. The cones are a particular delight — they’re thick and chewy, and come with with graham cracker, Fruity Pebbles, or chocolate shell crusts.
A family-owned landmark since 1932, Husky Deli serves West Seattle dozens of flavors, from the expected chocolate and vanilla to the rarer licorice or Swiss chocolate orange. This place is the best kind of throwback, and is still open for takeout with curbside pickup. There’s also limited local delivery.
Matcha Man Ice Cream & Taiyaki
Seattle, WA 98108
After years operating as a pop-up, matcha green tea soft serve and taiyaki specialist Matcha Man recently set down more permanent roots with a new shop. The fish-shaped waffles filled with flavors like ube, and matcha are still on offer and as Instagrammable (and wonderful) as ever. There are also some fun t-shirts and stickers available for retail.
Creamy Cone Cafe
Seattle, WA 98118
This family-owned Rainier Valley shop recently made its debut and is already generating some good word-of-mouth for its friendly atmosphere and solid lineup of flavors, including pecan praline, chocolate truffle, salted caramel swirl, and birthday cake. On the drinks side are espressos, lattes, and sodas.
Laina’s Handcrafted Ice Cream
This terrific Rainier Valley operation tucked into the Stonehouse Cafe serves up small batch ice cream with rotating seasonal flavors, such as Dole whip, the nicely tart lilikoi, and a charcoal concoction flavored with coconut and cocoa. Pints are available for delivery within a certain geographical range via Uber Eats.