Soft-serve drive in service at Sugarpine.

Sandy River sunbathers and anyone returning from a Gorge hike have a new go-to pit stop in Troutdale’s Sugarpine Drive In, just up from the riverbank next to Glenn Otto Community Park. Started by a married pair of caterers who are vets of the Beast/Expatriate and Pok Pok scenes, the walk-up or drive-up patio café offers salads small and large, cans of Buoy pilsner and Underwood wine, frosé (frozen rosé slushies), and sandwiches including a waffle grilled cheese.

The marquee attraction, though, is the soft serve, with chocolate, vanilla, coconut, and a rotating seasonal fruit flavor (think peach studded with chip-like bits of fruit) served in sugar or waffle cones, or a generously sized dish with a wooden spoon reminiscent of Dixie cups.  

The line on opening weekend at Sugarpine.

Sugarpine opened on an ominous date, July’s Friday the 13th, but the droves of rivergoers in need of a cool treat on the hottest weekend of the year suggests luck is smiling with every birthday-cake-crumb-topped waffle cone and matcha sundae handed through the window. Anyone who found a parking spot on opening weekend is lucky, too, while others were trapped in a European Vacation–style endless roundabout, praying that each person walking back to a car was leaving and not just fetching extra sunscreen or using their car’s power outlet to inflate a giant yellow duck floatie.

It might just become an essential post-float destination. Dog owners, take note: Sandy River Delta park, aka Thousand Acres, is right across the river. Your dog needs to be exercised, and you need a Larch Mountain sundae, with blondie brownie, blueberry-lavender sauce, and pine nut honeycomb. 

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