In Seattle, it's an effortless endeavor to satisfy your sweet tooth with a relaxed, sit-down dessert or an on-the-run bite that you likely won't soon forget. The Seattle area offers a wide array of dessert choices–from the traditional ice cream, cookies, and cupcakes, to local dessert fare that's made waves near and far. Seattle's bistros, bakeries, restaurants, and food trucks offer something to tempt everyone's palate.
Molly Moon offers homemade ice cream with a rotating menu that changes with the seasons. Simply Desserts definitely lives up to its name, with selections that are simply delicious. The casual elegance of MistralKitchen and the cozy Francophile ambiance of Le Pichet are nicely counterbalanced by Fran's Chocolates and Fainting Goat Gelato. Unusual - and unusually addictive - flavor combinations like smoked salted caramel, honey lavender, and balsamic strawberry are available year round. The best news: people with dietary restrictions can find organic, vegan, or gluten-free options, too.
Are you more fond of sweet or spicy desserts? Richer treats or lighter fare? An elegant presentation on china and linens or a speedy, handheld option? You may have to look a bit harder than in some cities, but you'll also find that an increasing number of Seattle-area restaurants offer amazing desserts from around the world...and from right here at home.
Bastille Cafe and Bar
Get transported to a Parisian cafe with charming, authentic decor like 19th-century sconces from a church in the French countryside, a clock that once hung in a Paris metro station and a host stand that once serviced a small French hotel. The food is equally delightful; try main dishes like moules frites, steak frites, the fish of the day, ricotta Cavatelli and the roasted half chicken with Dijon dumpling, black trumpet mushroom and Brussels sprout gratin. Enjoy French desserts from tarts to the COGNAC CRÈME BRÛLÉE. The Back Bar, the self-proclaimed "sexiest place in town" with a crystal chandelier and Art Deco sconces, is the ideal spot for cocktails before or after your meal. (206.453.5014)
Macrina Bakery & Café
Perk up your afternoon with a piping hot cup of organic coffee at Macrina. Happily, a wide variety of cakes, artisanal breads, and pastries is available to accompany your java. You'll have trouble deciding between chocolate cranberry coffeecake glazed with chocolate ganache and a Morning Glory muffin, studded with pineapple, raisins, apple, coconut, and walnuts. Consistently garnering accolades from local publications, the friendly establishment is perfect for a rendezvous with old friends or for a quiet hour with the morning paper. Whether you choose an apple turnover, a piece of lemon sour cherry cheesecake, or one of their vegan cookies or gluten-free cupcakes, Macrina's fresh baked goodies are sure to please. (206-448-4032)
The Whale Wins
The Whale Wins is the latest restaurant from award-winning chef Renee Erickson and partners Jeremy Price and Chad Dale (renowned throughout Seattle, thanks to their other masterpiece, Ballard's acclaimed The Walrus and the Carpenter). At this welcoming Fremont venue, the culinary team draws inspiration from the cuisine of some of Erickson's favorite places in southern Europe and England, and they promise their "wood-fired, vegetable focused menu will feature the very best foods from local beaches, gardens and farms prepared simply and served casually in a lively, light filled, cottage-like space." Diners should expect ripe, seasonal vegetables, wood-oven fired meats and fish, and pickled treats in a bright, beautiful setting. Finish the meal with delightful desserts like the can't-be-missed butter-roasted zucchini bread. ((206) 632-9425)
Westward & Little Gull
One of the city's newest "hot spots," Westward is a water-inspired, full-service restaurant and bar that first opened its sails in the fall of 2013 on the north shore of Lake Union. Chef Zoi Antonitsas sends out delectable, innovative dishes that balance contemporary Northwest and Mediterranean flavors with an approach called "natural and continually evolving, reflecting the simplicity of great products, fresh ingredients and the changing seasons. A wood-burning oven anchors the kitchen, and each seat in the restaurant boasts stunning views of the lake and cityscape. Outside, a large deck, fire pit and beach area provide the ideal vantage point for sipping cocktails in the warmer month or to snuggle under wool blankets (provided by the venue) in the winter. A 150-foot dock provides boat parking or a place to tie up kayaks while enjoying plates of oysters or creative cocktails.
Silky olive oil ice cream atop moist Theo chocolate olive oil cake, spooned over brandied cherries and finished with flaky Admiralty sea salt.
A cake from the Basque region of France, made with almond flour and cooked with a layer of pastry cream in the middle. Simultaneously dense and moist with a buttery crust. Garnished with stone fruit and a swipe of creme fraiche.
A Greek fried pastry tossed hot from the fryer with orange blossom honey then dusted with spiced sugar. Garnished with fresh blueberries. Take your taste buds to Greece with a bite of this dessert.
Butterscotch Pot de Crème
A French dessert that means a "pot of custard." Rich, velevty, savory & sweet. Life completed. ((206) 552-8215)
From the same chef who brought the nationally-recognized Mistral to Belltown comes MistralKitchen. Owner William Belickis wanted to create the kind of restaurant that had everything he personally enjoyed about dining out: a place you could go after work for a drink or a snack, or a place you could go to eat without having to dress formally, but also a place that would as readily come to mind for a 20th anniversary dinner. Offering five distinct dining experiences from barside dining to the elegant Jewel Box to the Chef's Table, MistralKitchen continues the tradition of offering an ever-evolving menu and using only the freshest ingredients. For dessert, try gems like the "Dark Chocolate Ganache Bar, Banana Caramel, Dulce de Leche, Buttered Rum Ice Cream." (206-623-1922)
Marination Ma Kai
In West Seattle, Marination Ma Kai brings the delectable flavors and happy vibes of Hawaii to a stunning beachside setting (near Alki). The venue's Hawaiian-Korean cuisine "melts delicate heat and the flavors of aloha together in [diners'] mouths," while the expansive patio offers to-die-for skyline and water views. As the owners put it, "it started with a truck, some exquisite marinades and a lotta love," and now, more than one million tacos and five years later, Marination has expanded to three separate venues and "one big aloha family." Loyal fans rave about the Kimchi Fried Rice Bowl, spicy pork tacos, award-winning Pork Katsu Sandwich, the boozy shave ice bowls (also served minus the booze and plus the ice cream!), hibiscus-tinged cocktails, the special tangy "NUNYA" sauce and so much more. At Marination, life is good! ((206) 328-8226)
Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream
Sure, Molly Moon does the oft-requested vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice creams. And they make them using local, organic, and fair-trade ingredients whenever possible. But it's not just that: there's honey lavender, Earl Grey, and maple walnut flavors, as well as salted caramel. In addition to their seasonal menu, more flavors are rotated in regularly - follow them on Twitter to get notice of the newest releases, or to put in your own request. And while they have four standalone locations, they also have the big blue ice-cream truck. Have Molly Moon come to your company picnic, the family reunion, your friend's birthday party...or your own house. Just for a gathering of friends. Because a) they're your friends and b) it's Molly Moon. ((206) 708-7947)
Sometimes, a few pieces of quality chocolate are all the dessert I need! Since 1982, this nationally acclaimed chocolate authority has satisfied Seattle's sweet tooth with an unsurpassed array of sumptuous candies. Fine truffles, candy bars, and triple chocolate tortes are just a smattering of the goods that will have you swearing off the exercise bike. Their seasonal menus are (for me, at least) a yearly exercise in patience, waiting for them to be on the menu again! Before I tried their Smoked Salt Caramel, I would have sworn that the combination could not possibly have tasted good...but here, it most definitely does. Three retail locations: University Village, Downtown, and Bellevue. (206-528-9969)
At the upscale Gelatiamo, located downtown, patrons can enjoy Old Country pastries and sorbetto along with potent espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes. Stop in around noon, and you'll be able to savor a hot panini before you dive in to your favorite sugar-dusted treat. Of course, the wise choice is always a few scoops of their gelato, a dense Italian-style ice cream that's nothing short of addictive. The frutti di bosco (mixed fruit) and classic "cioccolato" (chocolate) earn high marks. They also sell cookies, pastries, petits four, and torta gelato - yep, gelato cakes - that are works of visual as well as culinary art. (206-467-9563)
This dessert shop offers dozens of tantalizing sweets, including Gooey Bailey's Irish Cream Cake. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a luscious morsel of chocolate truffle cake or perhaps a slice of chocolate cognac torte. A turtle brownie with a glass of milk will transport you back to your mother's kitchen. If you're in the mood for something a tad less decadent, strawberry cake and lemon blueberry cake are excellent choices too. In fact, whatever your desire, you're likely to find it at Simply Desserts. All desserts are made to order that same day, so call ahead to order your whole cakes or cookies-by-the-dozen. (206-633-2671)
About Corinne Whiting
Corinne hails from the other Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's backpacked around Australia, taught English in Argentina and explored (so far!) countries from Cambodia and Egypt to Turkey and China.
Corinne served as associate editor at Where magazine for five years; as a freelancer, she now writes for publications like National Geographic Traveler and Amtrak's OnTrak. Here in the lovely Northwest, she's attempting to debunk the rain myths, up her coffee and live music quotient and find her Zen near/on the water.
Read more about Corinne Whiting here.
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