Restaurants and food carts aren’t the only places to experience Portland’s hyperlocal independent culinary scene — you can also savor that creativity by the scoop.
Opened just two years ago, Salt & Straw has already spawned a second and third location and entranced food critics from the likes of Bon Appétit and Sunset magazine. Unexpected recipes like strawberry with balsamic vinegar and black pepper, pear with blue cheese, and Arbequina olive oil might raise eyebrows, but trust your taste buds: These flavors sing. Watch for limited-edition offerings, like the Timbers-soccer-inspired “Rose City Riot,” featuring rosewater, pistachios and saffron-infused cream.
Farm-fresh ingredients are no strangers to Ruby Jewel. The ice creamery got its start at the Portland Farmers Market and now boasts a pair of brick-and-mortar locations serving locally sourced scoops, sundaes and addictive ice cream sandwiches. Try the lemon cookie with honey lavender ice cream or adventurous specials like chevre with port. The downtown shop also features a candy shop and soda fountain.
For a true mad scientist’s approach, try What’s the Scoop?, which utilizes liquid nitrogen to fast-freeze its handcrafted treats for unbelievable creaminess. Rotating flavors include Maple Jack (as in Jack Daniel’s whiskey) Bacon Brittle and peanut butter curry. Experimentation has rarely tasted this sweet.
Started out of a powder-blue delivery truck, 50 Licks scoops up tantalizing flavors like cherry bourbon, Stumptown Coffee, and Tahitian vanilla — still the most popular flavor — all from locally sourced ingredients. For a grown-up treat, try the inventive ice cream cocktails.
Craving something lighter? In Northeast Portland, Eb & Bean offers frozen yogurt with a Portland twist, namely gourmet, all-natural and scratch-made toppings like roasted hazelnuts, dye-free sprinkles and Fleur de Lis cinnamon-sugar doughnuts. Plus, the shop caters to a dairy-free diet with an almond-milk-based yogurt and non-dairy toppings.
While all of these Portland favorites offer dairy-free options (like Salt & Straw’s popular coconut-caramel flavor), some Portland shops specialize in catering to a dairy-free diet. All of the frozen treats at Back to Eden Bakery are vegan and gluten-free, letting sweet-seekers with restricted diets choose soft serve or traditional hard-scoop ice creams — in flavors like chocolate or cherry amaretto — to enjoy with toppings or in a variety of shakes, floats, sundaes and banana splits.