April 20

Just Desserts

Dare to be decadent with SLU’s top sweets

Seattle ranks fourth on the Centrum Healthiest Cities Study, which examines not just nutrition and exercise, but overall balance. Happily, that leaves plenty of room for an occasional sweet indulgence.

We’re not alone in succumbing to the siren call of sweetness. Nielsen’s 2015 Global Health & Wellness Survey reveals that consumers worldwide are making wiser choices (yay!), while still leaving room for a little chocolate and cookies (even better!). It’s all the middle-of-the-road options—like bread, cheese and pretzels—that are fading in popularity.

In other words, if you do dessert, do it right.

South Lake Union has options around almost every corner, starting with the homemade ice cream sandwiches at Caffé Torino. The pastry chef uses cornmeal flour (paste di meliga) in the round, blonde biscuits, and adds either chocolate or pistachio crumbs. Other standouts include tiramisu, Nutella cookies and amaretto-espresso flan (bônet). Wash down your delicacy with a Lavazza-bean Torinese (espresso, foamed milk, and cocoa powder) or a Milan Fog (Steven Smith peppermint tea blended with milk and white chocolate).

The Seattle Ferry Service’s Sunday Ice Cream Cruise provides plenty of scoop, along with the cutest and cheapest narrated tour of Lake Union. Slurp a chocolate root beer float as you pass floating homes—yes, including that one from Sleepless In Seattle—and the rusted splendor of Gas Works Park: the world’s last remaining synthetic-gas plant. The adorable mv Fremont Avenue, a 50-foot vintage-style boat, makes runs on the hour from 11am–4pm (adults $12, seniors $11, ages 5–13 $8, under-fives $3. Pets welcome). Hop onboard from the dock at Lake Union Park beside the Museum of History and Industry, which just happens to have a lovely cafe attached to its patio overlooking the Historic Ships Wharf.

Let your sweet tooth linger at Art Marble 21, a vast bar and restaurant on the waterfront. Order churros or sweet-plantain flambé to fuel up, then hit the game room, which teems with darts, bocce, skeeball, shuffleboard, and Giant Jenga. Or go more classic and calorific with a mudd pie, which holds nothing back with its chocolate cookies, chocolate mousse, peanut butter fudge ice cream, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate and caramel sauces. All topped with Oreo crumbles, naturally.

Just around the block stands Buca di Beppo, an eclectic Italian chain. While the chocolate chip cannoli wins many fans, it often gets upstaged by the Mount Vesuvius, a double dark-chocolate cake richened by rivulets of molten chocolate.

Need a sugar infusion instead of a slow eruption? Swing by the cozy Row House Cafe, which makes pastries in-house, as well as innovative cocktails like A Girl In Every Port (shōchū, coconut water, simple syrup, lime, and cilantro). Then beeline for Seattle darling Top Pot Doughnuts, where you can find classics such as old fashioneds alongside its signature feather boas (pink or chocolate icing topped with coconut shavings). Or pop into the newest Caffe Ladro on Fairview Avenue North. This 15th outlet serves delicacies like gluten-free raspberry brownie bites that go perfectly with its house-roasted, single-origin coffee blends.

And, of course, no exploration of SLU sweets would be complete with the dangerously alluring kakao. This chocolatier sells macarons and biscotti alongside a wealth of artisanal bars that source sustainably for guilt-free indulgence.

Story and Photos by Amanda Castleman

At The Center

SLU is the geographical center of Seattle