Keeping Flavors “Weird” at Full Tilt

Seattle is “weird” in the best possible ways. The city is eccentric and dynamic – filled with adventurous people living by the “work hard, play hard” mentality. During the two years I lived in Seattle (between undergrad and grad school), I learned to embrace the weirdness. While I never wore grunge clothes or grew dreadlocks, I dove head-first into the art, music, outdoor adventures, and – of course – the ice cream.

 Full Tilt Ice Cream embodies the quirky, playful and adventurous vibe of Seattle. The popular chain of eccentric ice cream parlors, which originated in South Seattle, is well-known for its “weird” flavors of homemade ice cream. And how often can you drink microbrews and play a variety of old-school arcade games in a local ice cream joint? Well, at Full Tilt, you can do just that. I first visited a Full Tilt a few years back, and I remember being shocked by the neon walls and loud 80s music. The setting offsets the sophisticated flavors in a truly “Seattle” way.

After a fun-filled weekend on Vashon Island with my boyfriend and his parents, I begrudgedly packed for the Sunday night red-eye back to Washington, DC. Sensing my dread, the boyfriend suggested swinging by Full Tilt en route to SeaTac. Luckily, it didn’t take much of a detour to visit the White Center parlor. Located in a “drab” part of South Seattle, the Full Tilt parlor is a beacon of neon lights, loud music, and excited Seattleites. When I opened the door, the scent of made-to-order waffle cones welcomed me. The line was long (to be expected on any warm evening in the usually-rainy city), but that gives you more time to read the day’s flavors.

Waiting in line at Full Tilt
While Full Tilt offers traditional flavors like Cherry Vanilla and Maple Walnut, you may never have heard of some of the options (or at least, I hadn’t). Vanilla and chocolate may be the nation’s top sellers, but Full Tilt customers prefer two “weird” ones: Mexican Chocolate and Ube. I ordered Mexican Chocolate on my first visit – which I expected to be spicy. Not so! Full Tilt creates a warm, complex flavor by combining chocolate, cinnamon, and raw cocoa beans. I enjoyed the flavor, but this time I had my eye on Ube…
“Ube” = Philippine purple yam
After overhearing a teenage girl in line call the Ube “freaking AH-mazing,” my decision was made. Well, half of my decision. At Full Tilt, a Single cup or cone costs $2.50 (love it!) and can be split into two flavors. What should I try alongside the Ube? I considered Salted Caramel, Thai Tea, and Pineapple. But my experience making Choco-Coconut ice cream has piqued my interest in vegan coconut milk concoctions – and Full Tilt offered two: Mint Chocolate and Chunky Peanut Butter. In the end, the peanut butter-loving gal in me just couldn’t resist. (The boyfriend called that one…)
“Single” Cup of Ube and (vegan) Chunky Peanut Butter
The verdict? The quality of Full Tilt’s ice cream is top-notch, and their freezers keep the ice cream nice and firm (a pet peeve of mine: already-melting ice cream). The Ube was, indeed, pretty “freaking AH-mazing.” I’ve never tried the vegetable, but the purple yam flavor was complex, sweet, and reminded me more of butterscotch than a potato. Plus, you can’t beat that purple color. The vegan Chunky Peanut Butter was good, not great. The coconut flavor overwhelmed the peanut butter, and the only real hint of it’s flavor were chunks of peanuts. I’m beginning to wonder if all coconut milk ice creams have this issue? Regardless, these two “weird” flavors melded well and sweetened my departure from Seattle.
What did the boyfriend order? Nothing. He was too distracted.

The Stats:
Full Tilt Ice Cream
Multiple locations in and around Seattle, WA