The Bay Area Ice Cream Guide You Didn't Know You Needed
We get it, you’re screaming. But since you have your mouth open, you might as well stick ice cream in it.
In a surprising turn of events, the Bay Area is getting way more sun and a temperature boost. 78 degrees isn’t a whole lot but it’s a better reason to go grab a cone, churro, matcha sponge cake, and more all swirled in delish ice cream. Here’s a list to get you started and you don’t need to thank us.
Little Giant Ice Cream was born of a simple love for ice cream. The experiences it inspires, the memories it helps create—it’s simple, honest, and easy. But it’s also decadent, a treat for any occasion, and the ultimate comfort during those tougher spans. The flavor we are loving is Ugly Sweater: a Jameson Whiskey base topped with cranberry, pineapple, and M&M'S. Delicious death. // 1951 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, littlegianticecream.com
Salt & Straw
Owners Kim and Tyler Malek have rapidly expanded their business since it began in 2011, opening three locations in Portland and four in Los Angeles. The secret to their success has been both the quality of their ice cream and the originality of their flavors, which push the boundaries of ice cream propriety with culinary and often savory combinations like Pear & Blue Cheese (not currently on the SF menu), and their now annual stunt creating flavors inspired by the Thanksgiving table, including Salted Caramel Thanksgiving Turkey. // 2201 Fillmore Street at Sacramento, open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, saltandstraw.com
Twirl and Dip
Located in Golden Gate Park adjacent to the museums, the Japanese Tea Garden, and the Botanical Garden, the Twirl and Dip truck is a beloved flagship that park go-ers line up around the field for. Serving their signature vanilla bean and dark chocolate soft serve with dark chocolate dip, handmade sauces and toppings, handmade fresh fruit ice "lollies," floats, specialty sundaes, and more, they have the full ice cream parlor experience on four wheels. Stop by for a treat in the park...on a sunny (or foggy) Bay day. // 335 Martin Luther King Jr Drive, Golden Gate Park, twirlanddip.com
Mr. Mrs. Miscellaneous
A low-key Dogpatch ice cream spot, Mr. Mrs. Misc has been serving their creamy flavors to a broad range of people. Ian Flores and Annabelle Topacio, the founders of the Mr. Mrs., have been up and down the frozen sweets block and have quickly perfected their mouth watering recipe for 22nd St. customers to enjoy. But lest you think Mr. and Mrs. is some ultra-precious creamery, rest assured that the flavors are not—“Ballpark” (Anchor Steam porter ice cream with chocolate-covered pretzels and peanuts) and candied violet. // 699 22nd St, Dogpatch, facebook.com
Opening an ice cream shop in the city is no easy feat but for owner, Calvin Chang, everyday is a new learning experience. Tucked away on the first level of the Japantown West Mall, Calvin is excited to be apart of this blossoming, modern Japantown. "A lot of people don't know we're here," he tells us over cones, "but when they stumble upon us, they're pretty surprised and will happily come in." The shop has seen organic growth since their opening earlier this summer.
But it's not because the space has a cool, muted pink undertone that attracts eyes, it's the happy stomachs that walk out. For flavors, get this: "Very Berry," a sorbet-style cone, hojicha and chocolate and "Rice Cream." With each order, customers receive one free topping. // 1581 Webster St., Ste. 150, Japantown; aubecreamery.com.
Tara’s Organic Ice Cream offers a new ice cream experience to broaden your horizons with only the quality of the best organic ingredients. T.O.I.C. is hand crafted in small batches (2—4gallons at a time). Being a covered Bay Bites location, we know good and well the power of Tara's. Just go. // 4731 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, tarasorganic.com
The home of all things rice pudding, the name implies what to expect—love in a cup. This homespun dessert shop features an assortment of rice pudding & frozen yogurt flavors made with local ingredients. And by local, we mean it. Sourcing dairy from various farms in Berkeley and up north, the brand treats flavor with serious care. Go by their spot in Hayes Valley now and also stop in Seldom Seen across the street to grab your Bob Cut Mag. // 535 Octavia St, Hayes Valley, lovingcup.com.
The creamery truck that keeps on rolling, Garden Creamery has been a dream fully realized by founder, Erin Lang, and her delish late summer treats have the locals agreeing. They also go to great lengths to make sure that every flavor is to their taste standard, from producing the ice cream from scratch, to pasteurizing the dairy and modifying each recipe according to flavor. This results in vibrant flavors and superior textures. Flavors such as ube, matcha, Hawaiian delicacies, and so much more. Stop what you're doing and get into this YUM. // 3566 20th St, Mission, gardencreamery.com.
Matcha Cafe Maiko
Originally from Malaysia, owner Chris Chin grew up in the Bay Area (total third culture kid himself)—Chin brought the Japanese matcha brand over to the mainland from Hawaii after falling in love with the matcha cafe himself. He knew he had to do something when he found himself returning to the cafe every day while living in Hawaii. So, when he moved back to the Bay Area, he brought the matcha and aloha spirit with him. Now the product—The Maiko Special (their most popular menu item) was insane. It's their matcha soft serve layered and topped with red beans, agar jelly, black honey syrup, corn flakes, matcha sponge cake, a simmered Japanese chestnut, and a handmade mochi ball. Every aspect and flavor worked so well together, we just couldn't get enough. The Hojicha Float was also quite a winner. A cold hojicha latte with matcha soft serve dusted with hojicha powder. Like, what? Okay. We were confused by the concept at first, but now we are obsessed. // 1581 Webster St #175, Japantown, matchacafe-maiko.com
Ice Cream Bar
The Ice Cream Bar is a classic full service 1930s style soda fountain and classic lunch counter with much to offer, serving ice cream, sodas, and savory items using locally sourced organic dairy and produce. Everything is made in-house. The ice cream, waffle cones, cookies, candies, soda syrups & tinctures, soup, and even the buttery brioche and wheat breads for sandwiches are made daily in their kitchen. Pastry chef Lori Rich creates all the unique ice cream flavors that drive lines out the doors, which range from traditional butterscotch to flavors you’ve only dreamed of! // 815 Cole St, Cole Valley, theicecreambarsf.com
Mitchells, a San Francisco namesake, has a lot to celebrate—can you 60 years in the biz? Larry and Jack Mitchell’s goal was to make the very best ice cream in San Francisco. The Mitchells started out with nineteen flavors; all made with 16% butterfat cream and superior ingredients. They continued to add flavors as their store became more popular and in the early 1960’s they were the first to introduce Mango ice cream to the Bay Area. Mango quickly became (and remains to this day) their number one seller. And that's our recommendation for you. // 688 San Jose Avenue, Outer Mission, mitchellsicecream.com
The better Ben & Jerry's if you ask our opinion, the Three Twins brand, story, and legend proceeds them. Easy to go containers, a multitude of flavors, and incredibly thoughtful social media. If you want to learn more about this guilty pleasure of an ice cream, Three Twins was born in San Rafael, California in 2005 when Founding Twin Neal Gottlieb set out to craft delicious, affordable and accessible ice cream exclusively using incredible organic ingredients. Before writing the business plan for Three Twins Ice Cream, Founding Twin Neal Gottlieb was sharing an apartment with his twin brother, Carl, and Carl’s wife, Liz, who is also a twin. The trio dubbed their apartment “Three Twins” and when it came time to start the company, Neal knew just what to call it. // 254 Fillmore St, Lower Haight, threetwinsicecream.com
What can be described as "gelato heaven" — 'Coletta Gelato' debuts with an interesting Italian technique and multiple creative flavors in SoMa. Flavors like Almost Chai, Pistachio with Maldon Sea Salt, Irish Coffee, Coco Banana Rum, Mint Chip Stracciatella, Amaretto with Roasted Almond, and Dark Chocolate Hazelnut. The founders, Henri and Antonio, met while studying for their Master’s of Management in Food and Beverage in Milan. With their shared Italian roots and passion for food, gelato specifically, they became fast friends. They soon decided to attend Gelato University (yes, that’s a real thing!), where they were trained by Italy’s top gelato maker. Inspired by their experience, they established Coletta Gelato. They fell in love with San Francisco for its shared epicurean zest and proximity to fresh, organic ingredients. And now they are eager to bring fresh gelato to all. // 685 Harrison St., SoMa, colettagelato.com
Our office snack that leads us to do Soulcycle for about a week, IT's-IT is the oatmeal cookie, ice cream sandwich that the Bay Area absolutely adores. We reported a while back trying to find the elusive Green Tea IT's-IT, as reported by SF Gate, fans of all things sweet in the world had a reason to celebrate. This is the first new flavor added to the company’s dairy stable since 2014 when pumpkin was introduced — “a release that caused temporary shortages throughout the Bay Area,” a rep from the ice cream bellwether told us. Yes, it's that good. // 3639 18th St, Dolores Park, biritemarket.com
After having a pretty rough start with the opening, owners David Chung and Mimi Hanley have staked their claim with serving out of the box shaved ice in NoPa. Flavors like horchata, black sesame, Vietnamese coffee, and matcha green tea can all be found at their chic, sunlit storefront on Divisadero. What flavors do you think you’d try, for us we’ve got our sights on the matcha green. #yum. // 260 Divisadero, NoPa, powdershavedsnow.com
An ice cream spot that needs no introduction, but definitely could benefit from a line divider. It's crazy packed always. The customers however, clamor to their intimate, retro atmosphere and the "out of this world" ice cream section. We mean, Dark Sumatra Coffee Roast scoop? How could you not? But again, be prepared for lines anytime of the year. // 401 Clement St, Inner Richmond, facebook.com
// Feature photo by Dolled Up In the Kitchen.