Lovely's Fifty Fifty chocolate-dipped caramel sea salt ice cream sandwich.
Lovely's Fifty Fifty chocolate-dipped caramel sea salt ice cream sandwich.

Certain things can get you through the day: debating the ending of Breaking Bad (I think I’ve got it), dancing when no one’s watching (best done outside), and discovering summer’s best ice cream sandwich, slabbed with surprise and flying under the radar. I’ve done it, twice. 

Ice cream sandwiches are a universal joy, with versions doled out in pushcarts and at counters from Singapore (sporting multicolored bread) to Scotland (bound by nougat wafers). It’s hard to mess one up. Even a straight-from-the-supermarket freezer block of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between cakey chocolate sheets can satisfy an urge. 

Two Portland shops are pushing the ice cream sandwich into personal statements, handcrafted to the max, positively delicious and known only to regulars. Now you know, too. What are you waiting for?

• Chocolate-Dipped Caramel Ice Cream Sandwich at Lovely’s Fifty Fifty: This little ice cream haven on N Mississippi quietly scoops of some of the best flavors you can find, deep in seasonal savors and concentrated intensity. (The mint stracciatella, for one, is another animal altogether, tasting like a frozen mint garden.) Quietly this summer, with a simple note posted on the wall, owners Sarah and Jane Minnick baked up chocolate chip cookies to snap around deep blasts of sea salt–caramel ice cream, made from little more than heavy cream, cane sugar, and Italian sea salt, plus so much caramel the texture borders on soft serve.

The whole thing is dunked in a “magic shell” of dark Valrhona chocolate (a.k.a. the good stuff) and organic coconut oil, plus a field of chopped roasted nuts. It has the soul of old-fashioned Drumstick and the quality of something you’d kill for at Barney’s. That’s a Lovely’s Fifty Fifty ice cream sandwich.

Flavors change regularly. Sometimes it’s berry ice cream and chocolate cookies; other times the shop bends its handmade waffle cones into a “choco taco” dripped in nuts and chocolate. Our advice: try them all. $5, and big enough to share. 

Lovely’s Fifty Fifty
4039 N Mississippi Ave
Tuesday–Friday: 5–10 pm 

Two Tarts fresh raspberry ice cream and sugar cookies.
Image: Karen Brooks
Two Tarts fresh raspberry ice cream and sugar cookies.

• Build-Your-Own Ice Cream Sandwich with Teeny Cookies and Small-Batch Ice Cream at Two Tarts Bakery: While lines snake around the corner at Salt & Straw on NW 23rd, regulars at a tiny cookie kingdom hidden across the street waltz right in for Portland’s best-kept secret: two flavors a day, made in half-gallon batches only, sold by the cup for $1.50. Flavors are “spur of the moment,” perhaps Thai basil grown in Two Tarts’ strip-mall garden or farm-fresh boysenberries cooked down and swirled into the wildly rich vanilla-bean custard. It doesn’t get more small-batch or artisan than this.

Though it’s not listed on the menu, ask and you shall receive one of Portland’s best ice cream sandwiches. Pick any cookie or ice cream on hand. One day, it might be bright lemon-curd ice cream stuffed into chocolate shortbread cookies. On another, it’s the house raspberry preserves, low on sugar and high on fresh fruit flavor, nestled between dainty sugar cookies. Or, if you’re extra lucky, chocolate chip ice cream is in the house, chunked with Two Tarts’ miniature fleur de sel chocolate chip cookies, then sandwiched, of course, between two regular-size fleur de sel chocolate chip cookies, which rank among the city’s best. Pick and choose, $3.50 each.

Two Tarts Bakery
2309 NW Kearney St
Tuesday–Saturday: 10:30 am–6 pm
Sunday: Noon–5 pm