School’s out, the sun is blazing and July is even National Ice Cream Month. Do you need a further excuse to enjoy summer’s best cold treat? Our favorite ice cream trucks make their goods locally—no fluorescent Rainbow Pops or freezer-burnt Choco Tacos here—and peddle their wares at farmers markets and events around town. No tell-tale jingle? No problem. We’ll tell you where to find them.
photo: Parfait Ice Cream Facebook page
Where most of the bigger ice creameries around town use a purchased dairy-and-sugar base (Snoqualmie Ice Cream’s is a popular choice), Ballard-based Parfait prides itself on being one of the only places in town that makes theirs in-house—in addition to growing their own herbs in a small garden out front and sourcing all their ingredients from organic farms. Owner Adria Shimada started the project as a sweetly decorated mobile truck, but opened a brick-and-mortar shop—a big draw for year-round treats and a cute selection of kids’ toys to play with—near the Ballard library in 2013.
What to Eat: A scoop of Hayton Farms’ strawberry in a sugar cone is about as close to the taste of summer as you can get, though we’re particularly fond of the nostalgic factor of the push-up pops—just like what we had as kids, but infinitely more tasty.
Where to Find: The truck is less busy these days now that the permanent shop is in play, but you’ll find them easiest via Twitter @ParfaitIceCream. Parfait’s Ballard shop is located at 2034 N.W. 56th St., Seattle; 206-258-3066.
photo: Chelsea Lin
Seattle Cookie Counter
It’s less truck and more sky blue 1974 VW bus, but we’re all in when it comes to Seattle Cookie Counter anyway. Husband-and-wife team Chelsea Keene and Chris Olson specialize in homemade ice cream sandwiches that are—surprise!—vegan, and some available gluten-free. They don’t peddle the dairy-free angle overtly, and you’d really never guess the perfectly velvety ice cream sandwiched between chewy cookies is made from organic coconut milk. Because the van lacks a mobile kitchen, the couple stores the sammies on dry ice in coolers until they’re ready to be gobbled.
What to Eat: Flavors range from traditionally simple to seasonally exotic (keep an eye out for oatmeal cookies with blackberry ginger ice cream), but the kids always seem to go for the classic: chocolate chip cookies and vanilla ice cream.
photo: Kathryn Moran Photography via Yelp
Diane Skwiercz knows the Seattle mobile food scene—she’s been at it for five years now, running a white biodiesel-fueled truck that serves desserts to sweet-toothed customers. And while she doesn’t only offer ice cream—there are brownies and blondies and seasonal pumpkin pie, among other treats—it is one of the house specialties: Street Treats caters plenty of events (get in touch for the next birthday party you’re planning!) and the most requested menu item is the built-to-order ice cream sandwich bar, featuring made-from-scratch ice cream and a dozen cookie flavor options.
What to Eat: Duh, the ice cream sandwiches are your best bet. The snickerdoodles with vanilla are delightful, though you can mix-and-match cookies for a more customized treat (try it with a snickerdoodle on top and oatmeal on bottom).
Where to Find: If you’re not having Street Treats come to you, find the truck at Seattle Center on weekends and Sundays at the Mercer Island Farmers Market or follow along on their swoon-worthy Instagram @streettreatswa.
photo: Half Pint Homemade Ice Cream Facebook page
What started at Cle Franklin’s home with a Cuisinart ice cream maker has turned into the sweetest little ice cream stand in the city. You won’t find anything too bizarre on the menu at Half Pint, which pops up at farmers markets all over the greater Seattle area—but that’s precisely why it’s so special. It’s as if Franklin has channeled every kid’s dream menu: milky chocolate, tart strawberry sorbet, cookies and cream, toasted coconut, etc. Get it single or double in a cup or cone (or by the pint if you’re willing to share). Nothing fancy.
What to Eat: Only a few flavors are available each day, but if they’ve got it, get the lemon-vanilla swirl. If not, the chocolate is hard to beat.
photo: Six Strawberries Facebook page
OK, so it’s not technically ice cream. But Six Strawberries is the city’s best option for good, old-fashioned popsicles—in our book, just as perfect for hot-weather play dates as a scoop in a cone. Born-and-raised Seattleites Vanessa Resler and Will Lemke started small with a pushcart on wheels, but have since added a souped-up bike cart and vintage van to their fleet of ice-pop pushers. Save the sticks for an art project later.
What to Eat: The namesake strawberry is a winner, to be sure, though grownups will want to try the Caffe Vita latte for a little pick-up (hey, you deserve a treat, too).
Where to Find: You’ll be able to follow along with the stand’s schedule best on Facebook—the Thursday Queen Anne market is a safe bet—but Six Strawberries is now also selling wholesale to a dozen grocers around the area.
We’re suckers for Creamsicles. What’s your favorite nostalgic summer treat? Tell us what ice cream you scream for in the Comments below.
— Chelsea Lin