Summer is finally here! The Bay Area has been waiting for the weather to start to heat up and it has this week. But with the hot weather, many might be looking for a way to cool down. And what better way than enjoying one of San Francisco’s numerous ice cream shops.
You could probably categorize ice cream shops into two categories in San Franciso: the old guard, featuring familiar flavors, like old fountain shops. And then there’s the new school with unique flavors and ingredients, the anti-Baskin Robbins. Here are some of the most interesting and unique shops in San Francisco.
Mitchell’s Ice Cream: Mitchell’s opened back in the 50’s and has been a San Francisco institution ever since. What began as a neighborhood ice cream shop soon became an ice cream source for restaurants and other stores in San Francisco. While the menu is made up mainly of traditional flavors, there is also a seasonal menu and a list of unique tropical flavors, with most of the fruits imported from the Philippines.
Swensen’s: The only stop on this list that is a chain, Swensen’s first store opened in San Francisco in 1948. Having grown up remembering Fenton’s Creamery in Oakland, this is the closest to that experience. There is food, plenty of traditional scoops and an array of sundaes to choose from.
Joe’s Ice Cream: Opened in 1959, the Murashige family has run this neighborhood gem since 1979. Much like Swensen’s, there is both a food and ice cream menu to choose from. The ice cream includes very familiar flavors, but there is always a flavor of the month and the shop offers sherbert, sorbet, fat-free ice cream and yogurt.
Humphry Slocombe: Oh, how to describe Humphry Slocombe to the outsider? The two words I always tend to come up with when thinking about this shop are unique and creative. Chef/owner Jake Godby doesn’t abide by a standard; he’ll basically make any flavor based on what he thinks works best together and tastes good. And he’s willing to try different things which many people would never think of, part of what makes this Mission hot spot so great.
Bi-Rite Creamery: If I could eat one thing for the rest of my life, it very well might be the salted caramel ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery. This shop is probably the closest of the “new school” to what one would think of a traditional shop. Plenty of “normal” flavors to choose from, plus a mix of the unique (salted caramel, balsamic strawberry, honey lavender). Plus, everything is made from organic, local and sustainable products, always a plus.
Three Twins Ice Cream: This is my latest discovery and I must say, it is as good as any other shop I have tried in San Francisco. The shop produces certified organic flavors, many of which are different takes on the classics like vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. There is also a wide variety of seasonal options like lemon cookie and chai tea. You can also find their products in many gorcery stores and restaurants around the Bay Area.
These are just some of the options to quench your ice cream craving this summer. But be careful, one taste and you’ll be bound to go back for seconds.