The best ice-cream flavors around town
Plain old chocolate never goes out of style, but with so many interesting ice-cream flavors coming out of San Francisco, there’s no need to stick to tradition. Chèvre fig? Earl Grey? Beet balsamic? Coming right up.
You can’t go wrong with any of the flavors at Bi-Rite Creamery, of course, but the sweet and floral honey lavender draws lines that wrap around the block. Expert tip: Queues at the Divisadero scoop shop and the Mission soft-serve window are always shorter (and you can get ice-cream sandwiches and pops there too).
Bi-Rite Creamery, 3692 18th St., 415-626-5600, and 550 Divisadero St., 415-551-7900; biritecreamery.com
The rebel of San Francisco?s small-batch artisanal scoop shops, Humphry Slocombe shirks tradition in favor of wild (kumquat and poppy seed) and unexpected (peanut butter and curry) flavors. But Secret Breakfast--vanilla ice cream with Jim Beam bourbon and crumbled corn flakes--still remains everyone?s favorite.
Humphry Slocombe, 2790 Harrison St.; 415-550-6971 or humphryslocombe.com
Tara’s Organic Ice Cream is the underdog of the Bay Area’s ice-cream scene, but its long list of 165 rotating gourmet flavors is as inventive as they come. Sweet corn may sound like an odd choice, but the flavor is very common in Mexico and is sweet, creamy deliciousness. Top it with caramel and pink sea salt.
Tara’s Organic Ice Cream, 3173 College Ave., Berkeley, 510-655-5014, and 4731 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-923-1567; tarasorganic.com
Former Chez Panisse pastry chef Mary Canales is behind the small-batch organic ice cream at Ici, so you know you’re in good hands. Cardamom rose is clean and refreshing with a hint of floral and spice, and it pairs nicely with horchata ice milk. Bonus: Chocolate is piped into the bottom of Ici’s hand-rolled cones for an extra treat.
Ici, 2948 College Ave., Berkeley; 510-665-6054 or ici-icecream.com
Pear with Crème Fraîche and Caramel
Flavors are limited at Smitten, the Hayes Valley ice-cream stand known for its liquid-nitrogen preparation, and the creamery’s seasonal offerings are the real standouts. Just in time for fall, try the subtly sweet sun-ripened pear with tangy crème fraîche and caramel sauce.
Smitten Ice Cream, 432 Octavia St.; 415-863-1518 or smittenicecream.com
Royal Red Milk Shake
Leave scoops and sundaes for the kids at the old-fashioned Ice Cream Bar and order off the soda-fountain menu instead. This Cole Valley spot makes its own flavors and tinctures and whips up boozy milk shakes. The sinful Royal Red is made with Duchesse de Bourgogne Flemish Red Ale, Sandeman Royal Ambrosante 20-year-old sherry, morello-cherry ice cream and turbinado syrup. It’s naughty and nice.
Ice Cream Bar, 815 Cole St.; 415-742-4932 or theicecreambarsf.com
This best seller at Three Twins scoop shop (lemon ice cream packed with crumbled vanilla cream sandwich cookies) may not be groundbreaking, but it’s popular enough to have its own Twitter and Facebook following. Plus, three other creameries have already tried hacking the recipe.
Three Twins Ice Cream, 254 Fillmore St.; 415-487-8946 or threetwinsicecream.com