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The Best Time to Go to Salt & Straw Is When It’s Raining

Why wait for Salt & Straw on a sunny day when it’s a breeze to go on any of Portland’s countless rainy days?

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Salt & Straw ice cream flight
Ice cream flight at Salt & Straw
Over at Eater’s national site, editors share their favorite dining and drinking hot tips in a newsletter called “The Move.” Here at Eater Portland, we have moves to share, but they’re not exactly fit for a national audience — only Portlanders know the wonders of evening dates at Rimsky’s and the astounding late-night happy hour at Ringside. Here, in The Move: Portland, Eater Portland contributors relay their city-specific intel; it may not work for you, but it sure works for us.

Salt & Straw, a local favorite and tourist magnet, is known for its extraordinary scoops of handmade ice cream. Ingredients like Durant Olive Mill olive oil, Coava coffee, and Bitterman salt are carefully selected and spun into unconventional flavor combinations such as bone marrow with bourbon smoked cherries and silky Arbequina olive oil.

All that being said, Portlanders love to complain about Salt & Straw’s lines. The small shop on Alberta Street often has a Disneyland-level zig zag of a queue inside; on nice days, it’ll snake outside and trail down the block. In mid-November, while eating a burger at Little Big Burger across the street, I noticed something: If it’s raining, or even overcast, there’s no line at Salt & Straw. I don’t mean that there’s just a shorter line than normal; I mean, I walked right in and it was just the person scooping ice cream and me staring uncertainly at each other as if we both showed up at a party that had been cancelled but no one bothered to tell us. This happened again on drizzly days in early December and late January.

It seems like many Portlanders have an aversion to eating ice cream when it’s raining. Outdoorsy activities like hiking, biking, camping, dog walking, and geocaching are rainy day ok, but apparently, eating ice cream in the rain is as unacceptable as using an umbrella — likely because it’s basically impossible to keep an ice cream cone dry in a $100 Marmot jacket.

This creates the opportunity for picking the optimal ice cream flavor for every mood and craving by sampling all potential scoop choices. There are usually around 20 flavors with a handful of monthly specials; on busy days, you can feel the hot waves of rage flowing off the crowds behind you if you deign to sample more than one scoop. On rainy days, when it’s just you and the bored 20-something at the counter desperate for any type of stimulus, it’s totally acceptable to actually taste everything you want to taste, from the grassy flavors in the Arbequina olive oil to the cave funk of Rogue Creamery’s blue cheese in pear & blue cheese. Then, you can actually make an informed decision. The only downside is racking up a hefty bill (a single scoop is $4.75) and indecisively ordering way too much ice cream. But isn’t that why there’s a tasting flight?

Salt & Straw [Official]
Previous Salt & Straw coverage [EPDX]

Salt & Straw

838 Northwest 23rd Avenue, , OR 97210 (971) 271-8168 Visit Website