When I don’t have time to make something for a potluck or a party, I go to McDonald’s and order 60-100 chicken nuggets, a bunch of fries and tons of different sauces. When I don’t have time to make a dessert, I hit up every ice cream shop in Capitol Hill and purchase a pint from each.
Chicken nuggets or an ice cream sampler makes you an instant hit at a party. If you go the ice cream route, you have three choices:
- Pick the same flavor (or the closest option) from every single place and do a taste test to figure out which shop is making the best;
- Pick the most bizarre flavors from each and sample them all;
- Pick crowd favorites from each so you have a great buffet to choose from.
It’s nice that there are six different ice cream shops in a four-block radius in Capitol Hill – and it only takes about 20 minutes to visit them all. Pints range from $6-$8 each, so you can get about three or four for $30. To me, that price is worth it in terms of saving time and labor and anxiety over whether your dessert will be well-received.
Molly Moon’s is basically the gold standard of the Seattle ice cream world. Not only are the flavor profiles unique (salted caramel was here first!), the company also provides 100% health care coverage for employees AND paid sick leave. Molly Moon’s has three locations – Capitol Hill, Wallingford, a little window in Madrona, an ice cream truck AND she is great at donating to the right causes in the community – a perfect example being the “Anna Banana Milk Fund” in memory of her sister, which collects money to provide fresh milk for families in need. She even has a book of recipes if you’d like to try your hand at making your very own ice cream!
The line is often out the door in the summer months, but it’s impossible to resist the scent of just-made waffle cones that wafts through the neighborhood.
Cupcake Royale isn’t just serving up cupcakes anymore – they have their own line of ice creams that they’ll scoop alongside a cupcake and top with whip cream to make sundae, can be whipped into a milkshake or poured over with a shot of espresso for an affogato. They even have flavors that are blended WITH cupcakes (buttermilk/cream cheese ice cream with red velvet cupcake – yum!)!
There’s a Cupcake Royale in just about every neighborhood (Capitol Hill, downtown, Ballard, Bellevue, Madrona, West Seattle and a new spot in Queen Anne) and their bakery/cafes are cheerful and fun places to try and get some work done. Who doesn’t like being surrounded by cupcakes?!
The Capitol Hill Bluebird is located just up the street from Cupcake Royale and a less polished shop compared to all the rest, but has more of a community vibe, lots of board games to play, comfortable and mismatched furniture and they also serve beer. I like their coffee ice cream the best out of the whole bunch and they pour ice cream and beer floats and have even opened a microbrewery, which is cool.
There are three Bluebird locations around Seattle and it was also voted as the best ice cream shop in Seattle Weekly. As the article mentions, it’s rarely crowded so if you’re craving ice cream and don’t want to wait – Bluebird is a great option.
If, for whatever reason, you can’t have – or don’t like – ice cream, perhaps you would prefer some gelato! Even though it’s a bit more expensive, it’s kind of nice to have a frozen alternative in the line up, so I definitely suggest adding a stop at D’Ambrosio Gelato on 12th and Pine. I like to get a fruity flavor to contrast against whatever else I’ve picked up at the other shops, but something out of the ordinary like a pistachio or caramel & figs are hard to resist.
There are three D’Ambrosio locations in Capitol Hill, Ballard and in Bellevue and they also have awesome cannolis.
Old School Frozen Custard
Old School Frozen Custard serves up your traditional chocolate and vanilla plus a rotating flavor of the day – make sure to check the calendar before you go if you’re looking for something specific. I’ve gone in hoping to get a scoop of Cherry Cheesecake and instead had to walk out with Maple Bacon – bleh. They also claim it has less fat than regular ice cream, so I guess you could say that custard is good for you!
They’re serving things up “old school” in Fremont and in Capitol Hill and also make blizzards!
Lick Pure Creamery
Lick Pure Creamery is the only one that I haven’t tried personally, but it’s located within Zaw Artisan Pizza (bake at home, delivered by bike!) which I HAVE tried. They’re known for the TRULY bizarre flavors (coconut/sesame/cherry?) and their pints are pricier than all the rest at $9.50 a pop.
Yogurtland & Menchies & Crazy Cherry
There are three of the frozen yogurt self-serve-Pinkberry-knockoffs located along Broadway on Capitol Hill. The best is undoubtedly Yogurtland, given the 20+ different flavors and a great assortment of fresh fruit toppings. The next best would be Menchie’s, all the way down on the North side of Broadway. Fewer flavors but better swirl options and a greater variety of toppings – but not in the fruit department. Crazy Cherry has about 4-6 flavors and it’s actually not a do-it-yourself style and they don’t have nearly as many toppings – but it’s closer to my apartment so sometimes I go.
Cheap burgers, cheap fries, cheap milkshakes and scoops of ice cream are a thing of beauty between 12-2am, friends. We’ve all been there. Dick’s has a limited array of flavors (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and rocky road – my fave) and their scoops are generous and under $3. Hits the spot, every time!
With summer drawing to a close, I’m almost embarrassed by the amount of ice cream that I’ve eaten in order to compile this list, but every bite was worth it, I swear!