These Spectacular Sundaes Revive the Romance of Ice Cream

The new breed of over-the-top sundaes built for two (or more)

By Chelsea Lin and Rebecca Ratterman


February 8, 2017

Listen up, folks: You can tell a lot about a potential love match by whether or not he (or she) encourages you to order dessert. The best kind of partner—in life, love and dining—is one who takes your needs to heart. And so what if that need is for a triple scoop of vanilla smothered in hot fudge and topped with a cherry? We’ve got a soft spot, of course, for Molly Moon’s classic sundaes, but this Valentine’s Day, go old school with your date and split a spectacular sundae at one of these five new spots that are bringing back the romance of ice cream.

Shug’s Soda Fountain
The old-timey soda fountain theme here may be a bit twee for some people, but this Pike Place Market newcomer is so cute—there really is no better word to describe it—that we dare you to not enjoy yourself. Opened last May, Shug’s stays true to its (incredibly Instagrammable) aesthetic with house-made syrups, a great egg cream and a counter with swiveling stools. Daily flavors of ice cream from Lopez Island Creamery are spelled out on the mirror above the bar.

Our pick: The Brown Derby is everything that is right in the world: a Mighty-O doughnut, scoop of your choice, hot fudge, whipped cream and a cherry ($9). A sad, naked breakfast doughnut will never be the same. 

Pike Place Market, 1525 First Ave.; 206.602.6420;

Shelby’s Bistro and Ice Creamery
There was a time when every small town in America had a place like Shelby’s (opened in July): a locally owned corner joint with cozy booths, tables big enough for a celebration, a menu covering a little of this and a little of that, but with an emphasis on the sort of homespun sundaes you’d make at home if you had a pantry full of sweets. Kids are given pinwheels when they enter—ask and maybe you can have one, too.

Our pick: There are about a dozen sundaes to choose from—and that’s without the build-your-own options—but we love the salty-sweet Sports Fanatic: a double scoop of vanilla Cascade Glacier (a brand of ice cream from Eugene, Oregon) topped with beer nuts, Cracker Jack, crushed pretzels, caramel, hot fudge, whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry ($7.95).

West Seattle, 4752 California Ave. SW; 206.935.3311;

Image by Paige Smith
One of the over-the-top sundaes from Vivo53 in Bellevue 

Vivo 53
Does it matter that the pizzas and pastas at this locally owned Bellevue Square Italian eatery are actually pretty good? Not really, because the “insane sundaes”—over-the-top ice cream creations—are really what people come here for, if what’s on nearly every table is any indication. At least you can order a good base of salty food to preempt the sugar coma.

Our pick: Kids go gaga over the Candy Esplosione, rimmed with M&M’s ($17), but we prefer the sophisticated (if you can apply that word here) Hazelnut Seduzione: Nutella cheesecake, chopped hazelnuts, cheesecake ice cream (they use a rotating roster of ice cream brands), chocolate drizzle, dark chocolate shavings, a lollipop and whipped cream ($19).

Bellevue, 504 Bellevue Way NE; 425.274.9165;

Sirena Gelato
When the Ugurlu family originally expanded from Bellingham to open Sirena Gelato’s Kirkland location, the shop was half its current size. Last June, the Ugurlus opened an affogato bar next door in the wood-paneled, sea-themed space, where they serve up your choice of their house-made gelato topped with Italian espresso.

Our pick: While every gelato flavor in the Sirena freezer is blissful on its own, for the affogato, we recommend sticking with something complementary, such as whiskey cream, bourbon vanilla or amaretto ($5.75). With servings too small for sharing, you’ll definitely want to get your own.

Kirkland, 109 Park Lane; 425.739.9339;

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