Salt & Straw: Cranking Out Old School Ice Cream in PDX Parlor

Ice Cream Portland

Salt & Straw sets the standard for Portland ice cream in the Alberta Arts District.

These days, it’s not enough to just create good food or drink and expect people to swarm the front door. It of course helps to have some marketing prowess and social media ingenuity. For a family-run ice cream parlor, Salt & Straw has both to spare. Kim Malek spent 12 years in marketing and product management at Starbucks as the company grew from 30 to 3,000 stores, and followed that up with stints at Gardenburger, Yahoo!, adidas America and (RED). If she could help shape the agenda for global corporations, surely Malek could steer a neighborhood ice cream parlor. She debuted Salt & Straw on August 12, 2011, in Portland’s Alberta Arts District. Their nouveau retro method seems to be working, since their product was fun and good during our visit, and they’ve since debuted a Northwest Portland location.

Ice Cream Portland

Kim Malek recruited cousin Tyler Malek to helm Salt & Straw’s local, seasonal kitchen.

Ice Cream Portland

The name refers to an old method for churning ice cream, with salt, ice, and straw insulation.

Ice Cream Portland

Shelves hold vintage ice cream boxes, harkening back to simpler times for frozen treats.

Ice Cream Portland

Tyler Malek shared cups of his favorite end-of-the-day treat, Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons, served on hot fudge that tasted like hot chocolate pudding.

Ice Cream Portland

I preferred strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper, folded with strawberry jam.

We also sampled flavors like Arbequina olive oil from Red Ridge farm, honey lemon with crushed ricotta walnut cookies, and pear with blue cheese, a classic combo.

The ice cream at Salt & Straw is dense, rich with butterfat, made using milk and dairy products from Lochmead Dairy in Eugene, and tastes distinctly of each flavor the board advertises.

Salt & Straw makes everything in-house, including ice cream, cones, condiments and baked goods. The flavors we tried did taste fresh and distinct. However, this definitely isn’t an everyday ice cream, since it’s especially rich.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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