When the ice cream truck jingle-jangled through my sleepy childhood neighborhood, an ice cream sandwich—especially the Neapolitan ones with those weirdly sticky, rectangular chocolate cake cookies—was always my go-to order. While I still find those grocery-store-freezer-section treats nostalgically comforting, my preference now is for an ice cream sandwich where I a) know all the ingredients that go into it, and b) get to choose my own flavor combo. Ditch the cone and try one of these shops for do-it-yourself ice cream sandwiching:
Central District Ice Cream Company
This relatively new spot has a monthly changing roster of flavors—no plain vanilla here, but left-of-center choices like pineapple li hing mui, chicken and waffles, Hood Famous’ ube cheesecake and miso caramel. And while a scoop is interesting on its own, order it sandwiched between pizzelles, a thin, chewy cousin to the waffle cone, for the most perfect vehicle. According to their Instagram, you can also have your scoop between two unicorn-shaped macarons—cutest ice cream sandwich ever—but I’ve yet to find them in stock.
Smartly, Robin Wehl Martin offers the option of ordering her delicious cookies with a scoop of Molly Moon’s ice cream and served in a cup. Get the Mackles'more, a cheekily named s’mores cookie with Theo chocolate chunks, and something simple like vanilla. (And pick up about a dozen sprinkle-covered birthday cake cookies to enjoy at home.)
Seattle Cookie Counter
Everything here’s made in-house, and it’s both tasty and vegan—not tasty for being vegan. The Greenwood shop started as a VW bus selling only ice cream sandwiches, and they’ve got the recipes dialed in; now, when you stop by, you can still pick up one of the pre-made frozen ones to-go, or you can choose two cookies and have one made on the spot. They’re big fans of peanut butter here—Fluffernutter, chocolate PB, etc.—so those are always a safe bet.
Another former (and current) food truck, this Central District shop has a broad assortment of choose-your-own-adventure ice cream sandwiches. Try the snickerdoodles—wonderfully chewy, cinnamon accented cookies that are just perfect with the coffee ice cream (made from Caffe Vita beans).
Old School Frozen Custard
This Capitol Hill spot was nearly a goner, until last year longtime customers stepped in and bought the business. The awesome, creative frozen custard flavors—think mint Oreo, blueberry cheesecake, root beer and the like—are best experienced between new owner Meg Chaney’s cookies. Go old school indeed with chocolate chip cookies and whatever flavor is available that day.
It’s really hard to beat the cupcakes at Cupcake Royale, but the line of ice creams is an honorable contender. The cookies here are thin enough not to overpower the ice cream. Technically, if you really want to go overboard—and why wouldn’t you?—you can get one of the cake-inclusive flavors like salted caramel cupcake ice cream, sandwiched between two cookies. It’s a trifecta of cake and cookie and ice cream all in one dessert.