What I’m about to tell you is definitely not a secret - ice cream is no joke in San Francisco. Flavors are taken very seriously. Creativity and risk are what is needed to succeed in a city where everyone is a food critic. And I love it.
Vanilla-only ice cream eaters beware (and know that I was once one of you), ordering that in San Francisco is just not acceptable. Take a risk, try something new and you will be rewarded. And remember this is ice cream we’re talking about – you can always ask for a sample before you order!
Mitchell’s Ice Cream
Mitchell’s is a San Francisco tradition. Still family-owned and operated by the Mitchell family, this ice cream shop has been pleasing people for more than 50 years. While they do have the traditional flavors, what originally set Mitchell’s apart from the rest is their selection of tropical flavors like avocado, halo halo, langka and ube. They do seasonal flavors as well – I’m a huge fan of their pumpkin ice cream, which is available from November to March. Mitchell’s is facing more competition now than ever, but it is impressive that after five decades they are still one of the best.
Coming here is like dying and going to ice cream heaven – seriously. How can anyone who makes proscuitto-flavored ice cream be anything but brilliant? I really have nothing but praise and adoration for this place. If you only go to one ice cream shop in the City, this has to be the one! Besides the proscuitto ice cream, you can also indulge in flavors such as foie gras, peanut butter curry, salted licorice and Jesus juice. They offer 10 – 12 flavors a day, which are often rotated…thus the moral of the story is that you should probably visit everyday that you’re in San Francisco, so you can try out as many of their amazing flavors as possible.
Three Twins Organic Ice Cream
Three Twins ice cream is pretty good, but what sold me was the toppings. What? You want to put olive oil and salt on top of my ice cream? Yes, please! Can you also just plan out the rest of my food choices for the week? Month? I quietly sank into a food coma in the corner of their tiny Lower Haight locations and delighted in what a perfect dessert they had created. Their ice cream is certified as organic, and they also offer vegan and gluten free choices.
Bi-Rite is popular. Very popular. Expect to wait in line and considered yourself quite lucky if you actually score a seat. But that tell’s you that their ice cream is good. Very good. Their flavors are interesting and quite tasty, but not as adventurous as say Humphry Slocombe. Consider Bi-Rite the gateway drug for those people who are still stuck on vanilla. I think a scoop of honey lavender or salted caramel would be a good start. And a little tip for those of you who are insanely impatient – you can buy pints of Bi-Rite ice cream just down the block at the Bi-Rite Market.
Mr & Mrs Miscellaneous and Smitten
I have not been to either Mr & Mrs Miscellaneous or Smitten yet – but I am hearing very, very good things. Both on high on my list of places I need to check out and while I can’t personally recommend them, based on the review I think they are definitely must try places.