Kids and grownups alike give in to temptation at Cloud City Ice Cream. (Photo: Courtesy of Cloud City Ice Cream)
Portland has quickly risen to the top of America’s foodie cities. Critics and diners love its emphasis on local and organic ingredients and flair for the unusual. Luckily for those with a sweet tooth, these qualities translate seamlessly into the world of Portland ice-cream shops.
With flavors like Pear & Blue Cheese, the city’s ice-cream scene is anything but plain vanilla. Here’s your guide for where to grab the perfect scoop, no matter your mood.
Where to Go if You’re with Kids
It may not look like much from the outside, but once you approach Cloud City Ice Cream’s door, you’ll know you’re in the right place. The unmistakable smell of sugar cones, the bright tubs of ice cream and the children in absolute sugar bliss are your confirmation.
Kids will love the unicorn cones dipped in rainbow sprinkles. They’ll also like the “kidification” of many ice-cream flavors, like Circus Friends — a vanilla ice-cream base with circus animal–shaped cookies and rainbow sprinkles.
Grownups, you can please your more sophisticated palates with flavors like Earl Grey Blueberry or Roasted Balsamic Cherry Mascarpone. Don’t worry, you can sample as many as you’d like until you find the perfect flavor.
Where to Go if You Like It Fresh
What’s the Scoop is much loved by Portlanders for its focus on freshness and its dense, creamy ice cream. The shop is dedicated to creating ice cream that is hormone free and all natural, with insistence upon using only top-quality ingredients that are locally sourced whenever possible.
Many of its ingredients are even made from scratch, including their fortune cookie cones, toffees, nut brittles, candied fruits and sauces. Take a taste of that fresh creamy deliciousness with a scoop of Brown Butter Almond Brittle. Or, if you want to go a bit more adventurous, try their seasonal Peanut Butter Curry.
Their popularity has led to the shop’s expansion across Portland which is good news for you—the ice cream is even easier to find. (Insider tip: If you’re making a trip to Portland’s science museum, OMSI, you’ll be able to find their ice cream there.)
Where to Go if You Want a Childhood Throwback
Whether you like to lick around the edges or bite right into it, nothing evokes summers of youth like ice-cream sandwiches. Bring your nostalgia to the present day with a grownup version from Ruby Jewel.
Instead of vanilla between chocolate cookies, you can go for strawberry ice cream between two brown sugar cookies or butterscotch ice cream between oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. All ingredients are locally sourced from farmers. And yes, you can order a traditional, non-sandwich scoop — but why would you?
Where to Go if You’re Hungry for More than Ice Cream
Half pizza parlor, half icecream joint, 100 percent delicious: North Portland’s Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty will tempt you with a slice and then do you in with a scoop.
Their pizzas and salads are loaded with only organic, farm-direct produce. Even the dough is from Oregon-grown whole grains. The ice-cream flavors are on the tamer side (by Portland standards, of course), but the Maple Butter Walnut will leave you wishing you’d skipped the pizza so you could splurge on a second cup.
Where to Go if You Want an Adventure
If it is artisan ice cream you want, it is artisan ice cream you shall have. While Salt & Straw didn’t technically start the artisan ice-cream craze in Portland, it is the best-known of the bunch.
Its everyday flavors don’t get too weird — although you will find flavors like Arbequina Olive Oil on the menu. But the seasonal ones can be a bit bananas. (Think Salted Caramel Thanksgiving Turkey in November.)
If you like to walk on the not-so-wild side, you can’t go wrong with the Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache. It’s that perfect blend of salty and creamy. Insider tip: Be prepared to wait in line, especially if you head to the shop’s Alberta location on a summer evening.
Where to Go if You Want a Sundae
There are days when a scoop of ice cream is enough. And then there are days when only a sundae will do. If this is one of those days, be sure to check out Cool Moon, located in the trendy Pearl district. Their hot fudge is dark, indulgent and — on top of a scoop of hazelnut ice cream — crave-worthy enough to warrant a trip back to the City of Roses.
Where to Go if You Can’t Decide Between Happy Hour and Ice Cream
Beer or ice cream … well, why not both? At Fifty Licks you can choose from an array of boozy ice-cream flavors: Noggin’ Boots (eggnog), ButterSCOTCH (emphasis on the scotch) and Rum’d Raizin. Or if that’s still not quite enough, you can splurge with a beer float. Yup, it’s like a root beer float but with a chocolate porter as a base. And yes, it works.