The Absolute Best Ice Cream in San Francisco, Ranked
Dare to spin the wheel of flavor? (It?s an actual thing.)
In San Francisco, you have your pick of the best of the best, including caipirinha sorbet stuffed into a mini sugar cone, Straus organic soft serve and the one and only Secret Breakfast. (Trust us, it’s amazing.) Here are the 21 ice-cream shops you need to visit, stat.
21. TOY BOAT
The owner has been serving up his brother’s Double Rainbow ice cream since the early ’80s at this old-school ice cream, candy and toy emporium.
401 Clement St.; 415-751-7505
Two words: Taco Tuesdays. And by tacos, we mean the ice-cream variety with a waffle cone for the shell.
Multiple locations; creamnation.com
19. POLLY ANN
Can’t make up your mind? Spin the flavor wheel and let it decide your fate. Just cross your fingers it doesn’t land on durian.
3138 Noriega St.; 415-664-2472
18. LITTLE GIANT
If classic cocktails are your thing, try one in scoop form. May we recommend the Dirty South?
Multiple locations; littlegianticecream.com
17. ICE CREAM BAR
Order a milk shake or ice-cream float and feel just like a kid again.
815 Cole St.; 415-742-4932 or theicecreambarsf.com
Ice cream meets shaved ice in this Taiwanese dessert that’s traditionally called “snow.” Go for black sesame or Vietnamese coffee.
260 Divisadero St.; powdershavedsnow.com
14. GELATERIA NAIA
Just like the Italian stuff you know and love…only made with the freshest local ingredients. Try something new like orzata (marzipan and orange oil) or riso (rice pudding).
520 Columbus Ave.; 415-677-9280 or gelaterianaia.com
Look for the pricey pint in its signature mason-jar packaging in interesting flavors like apricot sunflower or brown butter plum.
34 Miller Ave., Mill Valley; 415-888-2307 or honeymoonbrands.com
12. SMITTEN ICE CREAM
Made to order in about 90 seconds using liquid nitrogen, this ice cream is so rich it’s almost like eating frozen butter.
Multiple locations; smittenicecream.com
11. MR. AND MRS. MISCELLANEOUS
If you can catch it when it’s actually open (according to their Facebook feed, they’re always on vacation or tending to a family situation), the ice cream is pretty darn good. We’ll take a scoop of Celebration Cake.
699 22nd St.; 415-970-0750
Small-batch ice cream (in flavors like Root Beer Float) with a side of art in the heart of the TL.
835 Geary St.; shakedownsf.com
9. TARA’S ORGANIC ICE CREAM
Sweet Corn is a flavor and you should definitely try it…by the mouthful.
Multiple locations; tarasorganic.com
8. THREE TWINS ICE CREAM
Bittersweet Chocolate might get top billing, but we <3 Lemon Cookie.
Multiple locations: threetwinsicecream.com
7. MITCHELL’S ICE CREAM
This classic shop’s global flavors (Mexican horchata, Peruvian lucuma, Filipino avocado) have been drawing lines for more than 60 years.
688 San Jose Ave.; 415-648-2300 or mitchellsicecream.com
6. SAN FRANCISCO’S HOMETOWN CREAMERY
If you can’t get enough of this “farm-to-cone” ice cream, then don’t! Order a flight of five flavors, including a seasonal caipirinha sorbet that will change your life…for the better.
1290 Ninth Ave.; 415-682-4977 or sfhometowncreamery.com
5. HUMPHRY SLOCOMBE
The Secret Breakfast (vanilla, cornflakes, bourbon) has us questioning our morning ritual, and the Jesus Juice sorbet (red wine and Coca-Cola) has us converting religions.
Multiple locations; humphryslocombe.com
Churning out sweet treats since 1948. A cone of Swiss Orange Chip at this old-fashioned parlor is about as classic as you can get.
1999 Hyde St.; 415-775-6818 or swensens.com
3. GOTT’S ROADSIDE
For all you soft-serve fans, this is where it’s at. Vanilla (made with Straus organic milk) dipped in chocolate on a Joy cone. Simply delicious.
1 Ferry Building #6; 415-318-3423 or gotts.com
Chocolate in the bottom of homemade cones to prevent dripping—how clever. It’s no wonder this sweet cream comes straight from a Chez Panisse alum. We’ll take all the flavors, please.
2948 College Ave., Berkeley; 510-665-6054 or ici-icecream.com
1. BI-RITE CREAMERY
No surprise here. Nothing tops Bi-Rite’s salted caramel.
Multiple locations; biritecreamery.com