Something sweet, delicious and delectable has arrived in the West Seattle Junction. Shelby’s Bistro & Ice Creamery is the kind of traditional family soda fountain and ice cream parlor you might have expected to find in this spot 60 years ago. But this West Seattle hot spot just opened its doors and is serving up creative concoctions that are just the thing on a hot summer’s day.


photo: Helen Walker Green

A Family Affair
Opening Shelby’s was a dream come true for proprietor Shelby Varden. Remembering the excitement and anticipation of childhood walks to the Big Scoop Ice Cream Parlor, and birthday parties at Farrell’s, Shelby wanted to recapture the magic of a place where, “family, friends and neighbors can meet to enjoy each other’s company along with a delicious meal.” The eatery is a labor of love for Shelby and his family and friends. Psst… his mom may even be the one who seats you at your table!


photos: Helen Walker Green

Sundaes Galore
Topping the taste list are Shelby’s sharables – desserts that are just meant to be shared, so grab a spoon! We suggest rounding up some friends and going for the Mt. Rainier: 12 scoops of vanilla, chocolate, and cookies n’ cream ice cream covered with hot fudge, caramel, marshmallow cream, crushed Oreo, brownie pieces, whipped cream, nuts and topped with cherries. It’s an eruption of deliciousness!


photo: Helen Walker Green

We All Scream for Ice Cream!
If you’re looking for an extra side of sweetness with your ice cream, try the Jammin’ Jumble, Caramel Craze or (for sports fans) the Sports Fanatic: two scoops of vanilla ice cream with Cracker Jacks, beer nuts, crushed pretzels, caramel topping, hot fudge and finished with whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry. All of Shelby’s desserts are made with delicious Cascade Glacier ice cream, and you can watch them being made by hand at the counter. Psst! Shelby’s even makes orders to go.


photo: Helen Walker Green

Food & Drinks Too
Shelby’s is more than just an ice creamery, it’s a full-service bistro serving lunch and dinner. There’s savory sharables like Garlic Pizza Chips and Goat and Cream Cheese Napoleon. Also on the menu: salads, soup, pizza, pasta, burgers, sandwiches and more. Take note grown-ups, there’s even vino and beer on tap.


photo: Helen Walker Green

Snacky Hour
Got a carload of hangry kids? Stop by Shelby’s after school for “Snacky Hour” (Tues.–Fri. 2 p.m.–5 p.m.). It’s Shelby’s version of Happy Hour, with discounts on appetizers, desserts and drinks.

shelby's-boy-menu-collagephotos: Helen Walker Green

Ice Cream Through the Years
When you walk into Shelby’s you’ll feel like you’re going back in time (hello 1950s), but you’ll also notice cool modern touches. Each area of Shelby’s pays homage to a different era of family dining. The entrance is hometown Americana; all bright colors and booths. The back of the restaurant has a sophisticated look with a classy bar and curved couches. And the main dining area has a fun mural as its backdrop.


photos: Helen Walker Green

Whimsical Artwork
While you’re waiting for your sundae see what you can spot in Shelby’s mural, created by artist Amanda Humann. (Hint: it’s a celebration of the diverse West Seattle community.) You’ll see families strolling along Alki, and enjoying bonfires on the beach. Look out for the man sampling fudge—that’s Shelby’s dad! And chef Justin Reed is depicted hanging from a dirigible with a bottle of hot sauce. Shelby’s husband Mick is adding the whipped cream to the giant sundae, while Shelby and his mom are ready to garnish the sundae with a cherry and peanuts. Psst… Shelby and Mick’s cat “Potter” also makes a cheeky appearance!


photo: Helen Walker Green

Party Time
Shelby’s is the perfect spot for birthday parties and other celebrations. It boasts a private dining room with seating for up to 16 guests (think baseball and soccer team parties or moms night out) and even has a conference phone and flat screen TV. (Now, how to persuade your boss that this is the ideal place for a meeting or presentation?) There’s also an additional area that can accommodate groups of 30-40 guests.

Shelby’s Bistro & Ice Creamery
4752 California Ave. S.W.
Seattle, Wa 98116
Online: or Map It

Hours: Sun., Tues.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Closed Mondays

Have you visited Shelby’s? Tell us about your favorite ice cream treats in the Comments below!

— Helen Walker Green