Despite the common misconception that it's constantly cloudy with a light drizzle, summer in Portland often gets scorching. One thing to know about Portland, when the sun is beating down and the temperatures climb into the high 90s, there are few things as relieving as a scoop or two of delicious ice cream.
In a city known for award-winning coffee and cuisine, it's no surprise that dessert is a delicacy, with an emphasis on ice cream. The official drink of Oregon is milk and the state's abundance of dairy farms produce some of the best products in the U.S. In other words, the ice cream is really good here.
When you're in need of a sweet treat to beat the heat, here is where to find the best ice cream in Portland:
Cheese and Crack Snack Shop began as a humble, cheese-centric food cart before winning the dairy-loving hearts of the city and expanding to a charming brick & mortar location in the Kerns neighborhood.
Their menu includes the most deliciously creamy vanilla soft-serve ice cream. You can order it in a simple cake cone hiding a decadent chocolate ganache filling or in a satisfying sundae. Top with colorful beet, chocolate malt, espresso, matcha or strawberry dust.
While the dusted cones will definitely catch your eye, but the show stopper is the namesake Cheese & Crack sundae. It features decadent layers of chocolate ganache and cinnamon butter cracker crumble with a torched, housemade marshmallow. Think of it as the comfort of a campfire in a cold cup.
The menu and seasonal flavors change. But you can expect elevated takes on classics like butter pecan, mint chip and cookies and cream, along with more daring choices like caramelized banana, Earl Grey blueberry and the aptly titled Better Than Therapy.
This place also loves to keep it local. The marionberry crisp highlights Oregon's most beloved berry in a flavorful fashion with their house-made oat crisp.
When the heat starts to rise from the streets of the Pearl District downtown, head to Cool Moon Ice Cream for some sweet relief. This trendy scoop shop makes all of its products onsite using cane sugar and natural ingredients.
Cool Moon boasts an impressive list of nearly 200 flavors. With 26 flavors available at a time, as well as some truly superb sorbet, shakes, floats, popsicles and sundaes — your choices are endless.
One of their permanent flavors, Kulfi, will make you feel particularly luxurious with its hints of pistachio, cardamom and rose water. It's the perfect treat to enjoy while window shopping the neighborhood's upscale shops and galleries.
If you're craving a dessert with a little less guilt or are dairy-averse, Eb & Bean's organic, pro-biotic-rich frozen yogurts is just what you're looking for. You can find them in the Richmond, Nob Hill and Irvington neighborhoods, so the frozen fun is never far.
Eb & Bean's list of seasonal froyo flavors rotates regularly with both dairy and non-dairy options. Great news though — they do have chocolate and vanilla dairy ice cream on tap year-round.
However, the thing that sets this place apart is the glorious list of toppings. Many are organic, made in-house or sourced from local small-batch producers. From candy to baked goods to hot fudge and nuts, the possibilities are endless.
You really can't go wrong, but their non-dairy chocolate, raspberry and 'Newtella' magic shells are the perfect upscale twist on a nostalgic classic.
If you find yourself in the Northwest District, the Kerns, or Ladd's Addition neighborhoods, Fifty Licks is a local favorite that is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. This popular food truck turned mini ice cream empire makes all of its flavors from scratch using local ingredients and tons of cage-free egg yolks to create a signature, deliciously rich texture.
You're going to want to try more than one of their gourmet flavors like Thai rice, matcha mochi, toasted milk or lavender salted caramel. The French toast has chunks of actual challah French toast with a ribbon of dark maple syrup and a hint of cinnamon that will absolutely rock your world. Vegan options like bananas Foster and mango sticky rice will also melt in your mouth.
If you've been searching for a scoop that is plant-based with all the taste, head to Kate's in the Kerns neighborhood. Made with organic coconut and cashew milk and fresh, seasonal produce, Kate's ice cream is so delectable that you won't miss the dairy.
You can find pints of their signature flavors in local grocery stores or stop by their storefront to enjoy a scoop atop a fresh, gluten-free waffle cone. The funfetti cake flavor is a nostalgic party for your mouth with rainbow sprinkles, vanilla frosting and a sweet, cake ice cream base.
Even with all of Portland's fancier options for ice cream, sometimes nothing beats the classics. Take a quick drive southeast to Mike's Drive-In in Milwaukie for a throwback that never goes out of style. Mike's has been serving some of the tastiest shakes, sundaes, soft serve, and drive-in fare in town since 1971.
They have over 30 flavors of shakes made with soft-serve ice cream or with local Umpqua ice cream. But their selection of treats made with fresh Oregon berries is hard to top.
Enjoy a strawberry soft serve cone during peak season in August or September and you'll understand why families have been coming here for decades.
Indulge in the creamy delight of gelato when in the Richmond neighborhood with a trip to Pinolo Gelato. The spot focuses on preserving the art of traditional and authentic Italian gelato-making. The result is a pure, simple and authentic dessert sure to dazzle. The slightly warmer temperature, lack of eggs and lower fat content give their gelato a texture that is all its own. Taste the difference in the quintessential fior di latte, which translates to "flower of milk." The sorbetti is a great non-dairy option as well.
Puffle Waffle's flagship location is currently in the process of moving from southeast to north Portland. But their food truck is open for business only a quick trip away in Happy Valley. This place's claim to fame is the puffle waffle, a savory egg waffle and popular street food originating in Hong Kong with puffy bubbles of soft, airy deliciousness that offers a unique texture. Choose from an original, chocolate, or green tea flavored waffle. Fill with a carefully curated selection of ice cream flavors, then go crazy with the long list of toppings. Alternatively, their top picks provide perfectly balanced combinations like the King of Chocolate, featuring a chocolate waffle, chocolate ice cream, M&Ms, chocolate Pocky and chocolate sauce.
Salt & Straw is the king of the Portland ice cream scene and for good reason. This innovative scoop shop started here in Rose City with locations in the Richmond, Nob Hill and Alberta Arts districts. They have skyrocketed in popularity — expanding to several cities across the country.
Choose from a selection of standby flavors or venture into their list of creative, seasonal ice creams made with local ingredients to find out what all the hype is about. Lines are likely, especially on hot days, but worth it. Don't be afraid to ask for samples or grab a pint to go on your way home!
When the summer sun is beating down, Portland has plenty of ice cream options to help you keep cool. Enjoy your dreamy dessert made with local ingredients and artisan flavors. Or turn to a local classic for a nostalgic blast from the past. Either way, you can't go wrong with Portland's best ice cream spots!