Seattle’s Best Frozen Yogurt

Trust me, I've tried them all.

What: Small green-tea yogurt with pomegranate seeds

Where: Shnoo, 1514 Fourth Ave., 621-2631, DOWNTOWN.

Cost: $4.87

Would I eat it again? Yes, with protection.

Official Tasting Notes: Seattle may not be as deeply entrenched in the frozen yogurt “cold war” as Los Angeles, but we might not be far behind. A few years ago, Pinkberry, the Korean-style frozen yogurt phenomenon, brought fro yo back into the mainstream, and encouraged a nationwide deluge of copycats, even in rainy Seattle. In early November I visited six frozen yogurt shops in one week. Five of them opened this year, and employees at the brand-new Red Mango and Cefiore told me their respective companies plan to open two additional stores in 2008. Not only that, Starbucks recently invested in Pinkberry, the L.A. chain that started the trend, fueling speculation it might also hit Seattle. A trusted fro-yo spy told me that Shnoo was started by someone disenchanted with the Capitol Hill Crazyberry’s approach to cost-cutting. Guess what? That person did the right thing. Shnoo is Seattle’s best frozen yogurt.

When you walk into the downtown Shnoo (there’s another one in Kirkland, and two more on the way), you face a board touting the dietary benefits of yogurt. I’m all for pooping clean, but when I walk into a place to buy food, do I really want to think about how my body fights salmonella? No. I don’t.

The Seattle Shnoo shares a space with New York Cupcakes. It’s a good business model, I guess—something for everyone—but an entire yogurt has the caloric value one would get licking the cupcake liner. I almost feel bad enough for the cupcake lady to order one of her treats instead. But I stick with the yogurt, which turns out to be an excellent choice. Both of Shnoo’s flavors (plain and green tea) are deliciously tart and creamy. The green-tea yogurt has a better aftertaste than Red Mango’s, and no grittiness to speak of, so I pair it with what turns out to be a very healthy dousing of bright, fresh pomegranate seeds.

Shnoo has more creative toppings than pomegranates, like Kashi cereal and honey, but what I’ve got in front of me has a week’s supply of antixodiants. When the yogurt-cooled pomegranate seeds burst against my teeth like New Age Popsicle grenades, I know I’ve chosen the right yogurt. I spin around, ready to sink into my experience, but there are no chairs. Or tables, or anything, so I’m forced to walk through downtown Seattle on a 50-degree day with a frozen cup in my hands. I wish I’d brought my mittens.