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38 Flavors: The Best Ice Cream Scoops in the Bay Area

San Francisco is an ice cream town. And the rest of the Bay Area? Just an even bigger excuse to binge on too much sugar.

And binge we do, come warm weather or cold. We’re crazy enough to stand outside, in line, for an eternity, in the fog. Just for a scoop of the most-buzzed about flavors. Sunday, July 14th is National Ice Cream day once again—as if you needed any more reasons to dip into our favorite scoops. We’ve even included some fro-yo, gelato, and vegan versions too—because hey, we don’t discriminate.


The Best Ice Cream in San Francisco

The Oregon Import: An OG cult ice cream, Salt & Straw is not for plain ole vanillas. The small batch ice cream is all about intense (and sometimes cuckoo) flavor combos: Sightglass Coffee cashew praline; freckled mint Tcho-colate chip. Follow the smell of fresh baked waffle cones—and the line out the door. Not one to wait? Salt & Straw is offering free pint delivery via Postmates July 14th through 22nd. // 586 Hayes St. (Hayes Valley) and 2201 Fillmore St. (Pac Heights), saltandstraw.com

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The Fun Fest: While SF has its share of bold flavors and wacky ice cream formats, Aube Creamery feels offbeat but is still organic and au natural—not to mention impossibly pretty. Their elegant swirls of soft serve stacked upon fluted cones remind us of the ice cream in Tokyo. Go for mochi with toppings of toasted marshmallow, powdered matcha, or sweet milk glaze. Over the matcha trend? Hojicha (roasted green tea) is the next big thing. //1581 Webster St. (Japantown), sanfranciscosoftserve.com

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The Probiotic Treat: For those who like to create their own flavors and who wants something fat-free or dairy-free, there’s no better option than the frozen yogurt at Loving Cup. First, choose from vanilla, chocolate, or coconut milk base. Then, add your mix-ins (fruits, nuts, coconut, candies) and watch them churn out a your own custom cup of cultured goodness. // Multiple locations, lovingcup.com

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So Wrong It’ Right(ish): Sure, lots of ice cream spots offer the option to whip a dollop of icy cream into sandwich form, but no one does it better than Baked Bear. Yes, it’s a chain. But there’s not beating homemade cookies, baked fresh daily, hugging flavors like chocolate chip, red velvet cake, and cookies ‘n cream. Looking for something a little more hefty? Swap out those cookies for giant warm chocolate brownies or pillowy donuts. But don’t stop there. Finish your custom build with such toppings as Fruity Pebbles and Heath bar bites. // 303 Columbus Ave (North Beach), thebakedbear.com

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The Neighborhood Pioneer: In case you didn’t get the memo, Dogpatch is hot. Or, as the case may be, cool. But while new businesses are venturing into the area, Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous can take cred for being one of the first. The modest shop serves innovative flavors like fruity pebbles, burnt sugar, salted mango and, our all time fav, frozen hot chocolate. With flavors that rotate weekly, make sure to pop in often to get the best of the best. // 699 22nd St. (Dogpatch), facebook.com

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Shell Dips: Everyone knows Gott’s Roadside for its delicious burgers, but the soft serve ice cream is one of their best treats. Enjoy Gott’s array of sweet toppings like chocolate syrup, gummies, Oreos, and sprinkles, and if you’re really serious go all in on some of their hand-dipped shell flavors like blueberry and peanut butter for a colorful twist to your cone. // 1 Ferry Building #6 (Embarcadero), gotts.com

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The Trend: Food porn followers are familiar with the popular rolled ice cream trend that’s taken over Instagram. Tucked at the edge of the Inner Sunset, Let’s Roll Ice Creamery creates its sweet concoctions right before your eyes, pouring a generous amount of liquid ice cream onto a freezing stone before chiseling it off into perfect rolls. // 1152 Irving St. (Inner Sunset), facebook.com

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Food Truck Phenom: Fans of FK Frozen Kuhsterd can grab of a scoop of the creamy goodness at their new spot in the Lower Haight. Their scoops, sandwiches, bars, and bites all have a custard base that’s emboldened with funky ingredients into flavors like cornflake cereal milk, black sesame, and ube. If you find yourself in SoMa, you can also pop into the bar Trademark & Copyright ti snag their custard creations in the form of boozy milkshakes or cones—we love the smooth, black vanilla ice cream covered in thick drizzles of chocolate sauce in a blinged-out black and gold cone. // 791 Haight St. (Lower Haight) and 1123 Folsom St. inside of Trademark (SoMa), frozenkuhsterd.com

The Classic: The original Swensen’s has none of the bells and whistles of your modern, hipster-hangout scoop shop (it doesn’t even have tables), but it’s a must on any ice cream lover’s tour of SF. Bonus: It’s right on the trolley route, making it even more of a quintessential Bay Area pit stop. // 1999 Hyde St. (Russian Hill), swensensicecream.com

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Seasonal Flavors: Smitten is a hometown favorite that’s proven itself beyond the semi-gimmick of making instant ice cream with liquid nitrogen. Each scoop is made to order, and you’ll never regret asking for the seasonal flavor, which bursts with fresh, local ingredients (psst…Peaches & Bourbon!). We also love their sundae kits for special occasions and parties. // Multiple locations, smittenicecream.com

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Worth the Wait: There’s only one really good reason to wait in line for food. Bi-Rite Creamery delivers legendary ice cream that, in turn, delivers Instagram pics to forgive the queue around the corner. Go for the old favorites (balsamic strawberry, salted caramel, honey lavender) or, better yet, get one of Sam’s Sundaes with chocolate ice cream, blood orange olive oil, Maldon sea salt, and whipped cream. // 3692 18th St. (Mission), and 550 Divisadero St. (NoPa), biritecreamery.com

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The OG: Mitchell’s feels like a spot your grandparents would have frequented for a treat on the weekends—and if you come from a multigenerational SF family, no doubt they did. In business since 1953, this old-fashioned scoop shop keeps up with the times, offering unique and trademark flavors—ask for samples of the grasshopper pie, halo halo, or Mexican chocolate—with 16 percent butter fat. // 688 San Jose Ave. (Noe Valley), mitchellsicecream.com

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Taiyaki Cones: Uji Time brings another level of fun to soft-serve ice cream with cute fish-shaped cones, evocative of the traditional Japanese bean-paste-filled dessert. Head over to Japantown and grab your fish cones, each made fresh in about 15 minutes and filled with satisfying swirls of matcha, sesame or tofu flavored froyo. It’s the ultimate smile-inducing treat. // 22 Peace Plaza, #440 (Japantown), ujitime.weebly.com

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Chimney Cones: From food truck to brick-and-mortar, Garden Creamery is turning the ice cream scene on its scoop with their tasty “chimney” cones, made from Hungarian cake dough twisted around a cylinder and baked to form its unique shape. Only available on Saturdays (2-4pm), these fluffy, sugary cones have ice cream lovers lining up around the block. // 3566 20th St. (Mission), gardencreamery.com

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Ice Cream Flights: If choosing is agony, this one’s for you. San Francisco Hometown Creamery solves ice cream indecision with flights of five scoops of daily flavors. Move over beer flights, you’ve got competition for our calories. // 1290 9th Ave. (Inner Richmond), sfhometowncreamery.com

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Sweet Sandwich: The folks at Milkbomb have officially disrupted the old ice cream sandwich by stuffing scoops into a sliced, hole-less doughnut for one delicious sugar bomb. Opt for vibrant ube (made of purple yam and pronounced ooh-bae) ice cream rolled in mochi and fruity pebble toppings —taste the rainbow! // 1717 17th St., Ste. 105 (Potrero Hill), milkbombicecream.com

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Spin on Soft-Serve: Honey Creme is a small shop with major soft serve made from Taiwanese fresh-milk and dense whipping cream. Keep it real fun with delicious toppings, from honey comb to cotton candy or a sprinkling of popcorn. // 839 Irving St. (Inner Sunset), honeycreme-icecream.com

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The Black(ish) Sheep: It’s been almost a decade since the Humphry Slocombe opened its doors in 2008 (this makes us feel old), but ice cream fanatics still go bananas for Jake Godby’s irreverent flavors. We’re forever fans of the Secret Breakfast (bourbon and cornflakes), but don’t leave without saying you’ve tried the Prosciutto…or, perhaps Elvis (The Fat Years)? // 2790A Harrison St. (Mission), and One Ferry Building (Embarcadero), humphryslocombe.com

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Shaved Sno: Powder brought something all new to SF: gourmet, shaved-to-order, fluffy ribbons of icy ice cream. Now, the Taiwanese-style shaved snow spot has expanded with a truck at Spark Social SF. Look for new summer flavors including lychee and passionfruit. But our fav is still the cereal milk, which tastes like the sugary liquid leftovers from a bowl of Frosted Flakes. Trust.. // 260 Divisadero St. (Lower Haight) and 601 Mission Bay Boulevard North (Mission Bay), powdershavedsnow.com

The Best Ice Cream in Oakland + Berkeley

Organic Forever: We’re never surprised when organic tastes good, but Tara’s Organic Ice Cream is next level. With ingredients like pandan and baobab packed into their guilt-free scoops, you can sit in their shops and swirl flavors around your tongue for ages. Saffron, burnt caramel, and Turkish coffee? Yes, yes, and yes. // 3173 College Ave. (Berkeley), and 4731 Telegraph Ave. (Oakland), tarasorganic.com

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The Chez Panisse Alum: From Mary Canales, a former pastry chef at the Berkeley restaurant, Ici Ice Cream serves up 11 house-made flavors each day, all hand-churned right at the back of the shop. Watch out for long lines—this place is a local favorite. // 2948 College Ave. (Berkeley), ici-icecream.com

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Gelato: With shops on San Francisco’s Polk Street, Oakland, and Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto, Lush makes delicious gelato and sorbetto from scratch in small batches. Their ingredients are sourced from 15+ farms and are 100 percent local—and 110 percent delish. // Multiple locations, lushgelato.com

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The Classic: Trends, schmends. Since 1894, iconic ice cream landmark Fenton’s Creamery has been dishing up good ole hot fudge sundaes and the whole ice cream parlor/diner experience. It even made an adorable appearance in Pixar’s Up. This year, they’re celebrating their 124th birthday on National Ice Cream Day (Sunday July 15th) by serving up their classic Black & Tan Jr. sundaes for $1.24 all day (one per customer). // 4226 Piedmont Ave. (Oakland), fentonscreamery.com

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Vegan Eden: Curbside Creamery is a vegan’s dreamery—say goodbye to always-chocolate and hello to flavors like cherry almond and pistachio, packed with cashew-based creaminess in every scoop. Or, how about a strawberry ice cream sandwich on vanilla shortbread? Nom. // 482 49th St. (Oakland), curbsideoakland.com

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Flavors from Afar: Sandwiching a glop of ice cream between two warm cookies might be done all over the Bay, but Cookiebar Creamery’s exotic flavors are enough to make you do double-take. Vietnamese coffee ice cream, Filipino ube, and black sesame are just a few that grace their menu. // 517 8th St. (Oakland), cookiebarcreamery.com

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Toppings Galore: The best thing about Sweet Belly? The signature donut-on-top might not even be their coolest topping. Take a walk on the wild side with caramel coffee popcorn, candied sunflower seeds, and Fruity Pebbles. // 435 19th St. (Oakland), sweetbellydesserts.com

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The Hush-Hush: Secret Scoop Thai Gelato serves up incredible Thai iced coffee ice cream. Even better: You can top it with homemade sticky rice. // 1922 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (Berkeley), secretscoopgelato.com

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Family Favorite: Larkspur’s Posie is a community staple with fresh ingredients and chuckle-worthy flavor names like Grass-Fed (wheat grass and olive oil). This ice cream parlor really spreads the local love. // 250 Magnolia Ave. (Larkspur), instagram.com

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The Triple Threat: Three Twins is another ice cream darling thanks to creative and original flavors (Lemon Cookie forever), shops all over the place—the San Rafael–based biz now has shops at SFO, and in Berkeley, Napa, Larkspur, and even Tokyo and Seoul—plus a grocery store presence. // Multiple locations, threetwinsicecream.com

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Cone-in-a-Cup: Fairfax Scoop not only offers its scoops in waffle cups (seriously, we don’t know why more places don’t have these), it offers all the modern classics: vanilla honey lavender, earl grey, lemon almond, and more. // 63 Broadway Blvd. (Fairfax), yelp.com

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Pints for Home: Yep, the classic jars of Honeymoon you usually buy at the grocery have a home of their own in a scoop shop in Mill Valley. Sample some of their famous flavors (blueberry lavender, anyone?) and stock your freezer while you’re at it. // 34 Miller Ave. (Mill Valley), honeymoonbrands.com

The Best Ice Cream in the South Bay

The Startup: You can’t talk about the South Bay ice cream scene without giving attention to the Thai rolled ice cream craze. Icicles in San Jose was among the first to make rolled ice cream exclusively, and now has ice cream shops all over South Bay and in Pleasanton as well. // Multiple locations, iciclescreamroll.com

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The Old Fashioned: For all the vibes of a neighborhood candy store, look no further than Preston’s Candy and Ice Cream—their handmade chocolate translates into TDF scoops. // 1170 Broadway (Burlingame), prestonscandy.com

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Grandma’s Gelato: Italian ice cream meets utterly American flavors at Powell’s Sweet Shoppe—there’s no way you’re not trying the s’mores gelato. // Multiple locations, powellsss.com

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Members-Only No More: After a year as an ice-cream-of-the-month club, Tin Pot Creamery opened its first brick and mortar in Palo Alto and has been gracing the South Bay with its handmade goodness ever since. // Multiple locations, tinpotcreamery.com

The Best Ice Cream in Wine Country

Easy as Pie: Kick back in the Art Deco-style Guerneville Bank Club lounge and treat yourself to a milkshake made with a piece of pie blended with ice cream and milk. Killer flavor: Bulleit Bourbon ice cream with chocolate covered pretzels. // 16290 Main St (Guerneville), guernevillebankclub.com

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The WTF: The server asks what flavor you’d like, then handcrafts the ice cream in front of your very eyes. Great clouds of fog billow out as the all-natural base, heavy cream, vanilla, and sugar is infused with refrigerated liquid nitrogen at Subzero Ice Cream and Yogurt. Killer flavor: the dulce de leche with mix-ins of cheesecake bites and Twix. // 6760 McKinley Street, #11 (Sebastopol), subzeroicecream.com

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By the Ounce: Screamin’ Mimi’s owner Maraline Olson browses her collection of 300+ recipes daily to come up with her line-up of freshly made frozen treats, (we love the lavender olive oil). Each ice cream cone is weighed to determine the price, so who’s to judge if you go for a “single scoop” bigger than your head? // 6902 Sebastopol Ave. (Sebastopol), screaminmimisicecream.com

This article has been updated since it was originally published in July 2017.


Source: 7×7 sf 38 Flavors: The Best Ice Cream Scoops in the Bay Area

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