To be honest, I don’t know when my obsession with ice cream really began. I mean, every kid loves ice cream right? But I do know when it became less of “oh yeah, I love ice cream” to “oh my gosh I could talk about ice cream for hours”! In college, Kevin and my mother-in-law tag teamed for getting me the holy grail of gifts. One, an at home ice cream maker, and the other, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home cookbook. I was hooked. All summer long I tested recipes in Kevin’s college apartment kitchen. If choosing to spend time in a space cleaned by three 20 year old boys doesn’t say dedication, I don’t know what does! Needless to say, Kevin quickly realized how beneficial these gifts were for him as my chief tasting officer.
I was already photographing weddings at this point as well, so free weekends in the summer were rare. One Thursday night, however, I realized that we didn’t have any plans for the coming weekend. A little light bulb went off in my head. Jeni’s original ice cream shop was in Columbus, and it was only a *short* 7-ish hour drive away from our college in Virginia. My dad is from Ohio, so we have a lot of family friends in the area. I called up my godparents, asked them if they were around, and pleaded Kevin to drive me on a ridiculous pilgrimage to the original Jeni’s scoop shop. Kevin, being the sweetheart that he is, obliged. We hopped in the car the next day, all so I could taste what I’d been trying to re-create in my own kitchen over the last year. Yup. I’m crazy.
All of this is to say that I have some pretty strong opinions about ice cream. I have been known to go into great detail describing the differences between gelato, frozen yogurt, soft serve, etc. and why I couldn’t possibly choose one overall favorite because they were so different from each other. Anybody with me here?! Anyway, I have definitely narrowed in on my favorite ice cream shops in Seattle and I figure it’s my duty to share my research with you! After countless taste testing and comparing, I’ve outlined my top 5 favorite ice cream shops & why they made the list! I hope you can get out and enjoy some delicious bites, and if you want, tag me in your Instagram posts like some of my friends have started doing! Haha! Cheers!
Salt & Straw
I may be quoted as saying, apart from Jeni’s which we can’t get on the west coast yet, that “Salt & Straw is my favorite ice cream in the country.” Whoa. Let that sink in for a second! I had Salt & Straw for the first time in Portland when I was visiting my friend. I love their creative (but most aren’t *too* weird) flavors. They have giant chunks of cookies, fudge, or whatever they’re using inside. Texture is huge for me – probably one of the biggest deciding factors for quality – and Salt & Straw’s texture is top notch. So creamy!
This scoop shop also inspired my 2nd ice cream pilgrimage – or more of a quest, really – to eat a specialty local flavor in every city where they have locations. I had already checked off Portland and Seattle, of course, and work took me all through California earlier this year. In about two months, I was able to check off San Francisco, LA and San Diego. I felt hilariously accomplished. BTW, no one is sponsoring this blog post, but they totally should.
Favorite flavor: They change monthly, but an all-time stand out is Birthday Cake & Blackberries (seasonal) or Chocolate Gooey Brownie (classic)
Frankie & Jo’s
This vegan ice cream shop is co-owned by the genius behind Hot Cakes – Autumn Martin – where I used to work (for a hot second back in 2014)! Don’t even get me started on combining ice cream AND molten chocolate lava cakes. I like to pretend that Frankie & Jo’s is healthy because it’s vegan, although I know that’s not accurate lol. Not only are the flavors amazing and unique (and also change seasonally, forcing me to come back on a regular basis… twist my arm…) but also their branding is ON. POINT. I love visiting their scoop shops just to feel like I’ve been transported to Palm Springs or some luscious jungle. I wear my Plant Magic sweatshirt daily.
Favorite Flavor: Mexican Morning (coffee + horchata cashew ice cream)
PSA! Cupcake Royale is not just for cupcakes! Some of my favorite ice creams have been from Cupcake Royale – I love that they do seasonal partnerships with local chefs, and that you can get a cupcake ice cream sundae which is about a million calories but absolutely delicious. And just incase you happen to also need a coffee pick-me-up or have a (weird) friend that doesn’t like ice cream, there are options for that too!
Favorite Flavor: Chef series with Rachel’s Ginger Beer: White Peach Cobbler with Bourbon Caramel
Molly Moon‘s is a Seattle favorite for. sure. I actually recently saw Molly speak at the Yellow Co. conference and was totally blown away by her. She gives so much back to the city of Seattle & their employees, in addition to amazing ice cream! I also love that they source Thin Mints from local girl scout troops for their Scout Mint flavor – again supporting our local community! I also love that Molly Moon’s ice cream flavors are more approachable than some of the others’ on this list – sometimes a girl just wants some great chocolate ice cream!
Molly Moon flavors are often referenced in my “what ice cream flavor would best describe your personality” question on my contact form, too. For example, Abbi’s response of : “a tough choice between molly moon‘s salted caramel and honey lavender – sweet with some surprise or relaxed and close to nature :)” LOVE.
Favorite Flavor: Salted Caramel
Full Tilt has great classic flavors as well as funky partnerships with local businesses & charities. It’s also just a fun place to hang out! They have pinball machines and video games, and $3 PBRs. Full Tilt is a local favorite for a lot of restaurants. I’ll find myself enjoying an ice cream sandwich & wonder where the ice cream is from. You guessed it, Full Tilt! They have a no fuss, great texture, awesome flavor, let’s have fun with dessert kind of vibe.
Favorite Flavor: 107.7 The End (radio station) Chocolate to End All Chocolates
And for good measure, here’s a shot of me in my happy place! Eating an ice cream sandwich at Coolhaus in LA earlier this year!
Also, it’s embarrassing how much fun I had & time I spent on writing this blog post. You’re welcome.
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