Despite a reputation for rain, Portland’s devotion to ice cream has produced some of the nation’s top scoop shops. No surprise then that Stumptown has developed its own soft serve subculture, featuring both dairy-filled and dairy-free offerings.
Soft service ice cream spots in Portland
Wiz Bang Bar
Younger sibling to Portland ice cream phenom Salt & Straw, Wiz Bang Bar crafts elevated versions of beloved childhood treats. The decadent menu includes peanut butter and jelly sundaes and roasted strawberry soft-serve hand-dipped in a “gray chocolate” sesame shell. Their “Chocolate Tacolates” go way above and beyond Choco-Tacos, incorporating handmade waffle cones and cinnamon-ancho ice cream. The Pine Street Market location lets you grab lunch first — or go straight to dessert!
Back to Eden Bakery
This homey Northeast Alberta Street bakery serves up some of Stumptown’s best vegan and gluten-free delights. These include a dairy-free soft serve that’s available year-round, with chocolate, vanilla and swirl cones. Back to Eden Bakery also offers banana splits, kombucha floats, heavenly shakes and sundaes named for Oregon landmarks. Each will ensure you’ll scream for this vegan ice cream.
Cheese & Crack Snack Shop
A mouthwatering cheese selection gets tough competition from a velvety sweet cream soft-serve cone at Cheese & Crack Snack Shop. Filled with chocolate ganache, dusted with espresso powder and topped with a flawless curlicue, this treat is as photogenic as it is delicious. Another adorable option is the sundae with cinnamon butter cracker crumble and torched, house-made marshmallow.
Food Fight! Grocery
Plant-based mini-mart Food Fight! Grocery keeps things simple with swirls of vegan vanilla and chocolate, served March through November. Occasionally, flavors like chai or coffee crop up, but this vegan grocer primarily sticks to the basics. The dreamy, all-natural soft serve is soy-based and served without toppings. You could, however, easily buy gummi bears, mini marshmallows or rainbow sprinkles from the market’s treat-filled shelves.
Piping hot slices of East Coast-style pizza are served on red-checkered tablecloths at Pizza Jerk in Northeast Portland. We’ll let you in on a well-kept secret: this pizzeria also doles out some of the city’s best soft serve. They swirl a vanilla ice cream base with mouthwatering flavors like tropical orange, butter pecan and blue goo (cotton candy). More traditional varieties like strawberry and chocolate are available as well. The most delicious secret of all? If you swing by on a Tuesday, all cones come free with a purchase.
Rachel’s Ginger Beer
Some of Portland’s best soft serve awaits at Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard’s Rachel’s Ginger Beer. This Seattle transplant specializes in handcrafted ginger sodas, but also serves up a mean vanilla soft serve from Washington-based Snoqualmie Ice Cream. Buy a cup or add soft serve to any ginger beer flavor to make it a float. (Blood orange and blueberry are both highly recommended.) Even better, adults can make that float boozy for just $2 extra.
If no-frills soft serve is your jam, head to the fried chicken experts at Basilisk, in hip food hall the Zipper. Kool-Aid flavors this swirled treat, so expect a rotation of sweet, fruity offerings like black cherry, grape, orange and watermelon. Couple your cup or cone with the Zipper’s excellent outdoor patio for a win-win.