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The Biggest and BEST List Of Bay Area Ice Creams Shops

We are living in ice cream renaissance times. Ever since the introduction of Strawberry Balsamic (Bi-Rite) and whiskey and corn flakes (Humphry Slocombe’s Secret Breakfast), the scoop has never been the same. Today there are old-school loyalists (mint chip, please) and avant garde eaters (Peanut Butter Curry), and dozens of creameries out there ready to cure any craving. To make the choice a tiny bit easier, we’ve rounded them all up for you here.

mitchells_ice_cream_kid

San Francisco

Mitchell’s Ice Cream
This long-established outer Mission favorite has been serving delicious specialty ice cream, sorbet, and sundaes for over 50 years. Grab a number, deli-counter style, as soon as you arrive, then worry about picking your flavors—they serve up all the classics, as well as their signature tropical flavors: We love Ube-Macapuno, purple yam blended with sweet, meaty coconut.

Price: Inexpensive.
688 San Jose Ave.
San Francisco, Ca
Open every day from 11a.m.–11:00 p.m
Online: mitchellsicecream.com

Bi-Rite Creamery and Bakeshop
The ever-popular Bi-Rite Creamery, just steps away from Dolores Park (and with a new second location on Divisidero), uses mostly organic, local milk products to make its sweet treats, and has successfully turned our little ones into little foodies. Kid favorites include ricanelas (cinnamon with snickerdoodle cookie pieces) and the aforementioned strawberry balsamic. Impatient brood? The soft-serve line at the 18th St. location is always shorter, and you can score ice cream sandwiches and popsicles from there as well.

Price: Inexpensive
3692 18th St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-626-5600
Open Sunday thru Thursday 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11a.m.–11 p.m.

550 Divisidero St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-551-7900
Open 9 a.m–9 p.m. every day

Online: biritecreamery.com

Swensen’s Ice Cream
This tiny retro-style store in Russian Hill is known for its rich, creamy, flavorful ice cream. The sticky chewy chocolate is one of their best sellers. Counter service only. Parking is tricky, so plan accordingly. Give the kids an extra thrill and hop on the Hyde Street cable car (or the 45 bus from Union Street) and let someone else take the wheel. But don’t spend all your quarters—this place is cash only.

Price: Inexpensive
1999 Hyde St.
San Francsico, Ca
415-775-6818
Open Tuesday thru Thursday and Sunday 12–10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 12 p.m.–11 p.m., Closed Monday
Online: swensensicecream.com

Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous
This relative newcomer to the cream scene popped up in Dogpatch a few years ago. It gets our nod for big scoops of inventive flavors (think blueberry cobbler and earl grey tea), as well as an industrial-chic decor that makes standing in line less of a chore.

Price: Moderate
699 22nd St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-970-0750
Open Wednesday thru Saturday 11:30 a.m.–6 p.m., and Sunday 11:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Closed Monday and Tuesday
Online: Read our review from when it first opened.

Smitten
This Hayes Valley hot spot is a high-tech wonder—proprietor Robyn Sue Goldman developed the Kelvin, which uses liquid nitrogen to make ice cream in 60 seconds. That means kids can watch it go from a liquid to a solid while they wait for their scoop. The flavors are limited—usually there are only three available on a daily basis at the SF location, but their list of creative, gourmet toppings (homemade brittle, cinnamon shortbread) provides the variety kids love. Larger outposts have since opened in Los Altos, Lafayette and Rockridge.

Price: Moderate
432 Octavia St.,
Open Monday and Tuesday, 12–10 p.m, Wednesday through Friday 12–10:30 p.m., Saturday 11:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m., Sunday 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m.
415-863-1518

Whole Foods Market
4800 El Camino Real
Los Altos, Ca
Open 11:30 a.m. –10 p.m. every day
650-559-0100

5800 College Ave.
Oakland, Ca
510-594-7630
Open Monday through Thursday 12–10:30 p.m., Friday 12–11 p.m., Saturday 11:30 a.m–11 p.m., Sunday 11:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m.

3545 Mt. Diablo Blvd.
Lafayette, Ca
925-385-7115
Open Monday through Friday 12 –10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11:30 a.m–10p.m.

Online: smittenicecream.com

Humphry_slocombe_flavors

Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream
Head to Humphry Slocombe for some inventive and unexpected flavors. From exotic adult tastes like chèvre fig to more kid friendly delights like Wexler’s root beer, everyone will be satisfied with this spot. And proving the popularity of the wacky, “you put WHAT in ice cream?!” flavors, Humphry Slocombe just opened their second location in the ultra-exclusive Ferry Building, replacing a long-standing gelato shop (gelato is soooo 2010).

Price: Moderate
2790 A Harrison St.
San Francisco, Ca
Open Monday though Thursday 12–9 p.m., Friday thru Sunday 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm.

1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, Ca
415-550-6971
Open Monday through Friday 11 a.m.–8 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.–8 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.–8 p.m.

Online: humphryslocombe.com

photo courtesy of Fentons Creamery’s Facebook

East Bay

Fenton’s Creamery
This spot is seriously old-school—the original Fenton’s opened in 1894, when they delivered fresh milk by horse-drawn wagon. They seem to have ignored the crazy flavor fad—dark chocolate raspberry swirl or green tea is as wild as it gets—but they have truly mastered the more than 30 classic flavors they still mix up by hand.Try one of their yummy mix-and-match sundaes to taste a few. Movie trivia: Fenton’s classic ice cream parlor was even featured in Pixar’s Up.

Price: Moderate
4226 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland, Ca
510-658-7000
Open Monday thru Thursday 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Friday and Saturday 9 a.m.–midnight, Sunday 9 a.m.–11 p.m..
Online: fentonscreamery.com

Ici
Ici is owned by none other than Chez Panisse’s former pastry chef Mary Canales. Needless to say their ice cream, sorbet, and sherbet are all fit for a prince (or princess!). Ingredients are all organic, local, and sustainably-raised, and all 11 daily flavors are made-fresh every day. But the part the kids will care about? How about the leak-proof waffle cones sealed with fresh chocolate inside or flavors such as brown sugar gingersnap?

Price: Moderate
2948 College Ave., Berkeley, Ca
510-665-6054
Open Monday through Thursday 12–9:30 p.m., Friday 12–10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
Online: www.ici-icecream.com

IScream
North Berkeley’s newest scoop shop has been getting rave reviews for its high quality artisan Mexican chocolate and mocha almond ice cream flavors, as well as its lemon sorbet. Half scopps are available for those who like to order more than one flavor, and even scoops served in cups come with a sliver of their heavenly homemade waffle cones.

Price: Inexpensive
1819 Solano Ave.
Berkeley, Ca
510-225-4607
Open Monday through Thursday and Sunday 12–9 p.m, Friday and Saturday 12–10 p.m.
Online: Not yet!

Tucker’s Supercreamed Ice Cream
Tucker’s set up shop in 1941 and has been here ever since. They serve over 30 flavors of ice cream, sorbet, and sherbet, all extra-whipped in order to live up to that “supercreamed” title. Their ‘Tornado Machine’ will custom-blend frozen yogurt flavors—try one in a freshly-baked waffle cone. Plenty of indoor and outdoor seating makes this a nice place to linger.

Price: Inexpensive
1349 Park St.
Alameda, Ca
510-522-4960
Open Monday 12–9:30 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.–11 p.m., and Sunday 12– 9:30 p.m.
Online: tuckersicecream.com

Loard’s Ice Cream
Loard’s ice cream parlors have been a Bay Area favorite since the first one opened in 1950. They’re a small chain but feel more like a mom-and-pop store, and serve over 40 flavors of rich and creamy ice cream, as well as sorbet, sherbet, and a ‘lite’ version of their ice cream. Again, you’ll only find the classic flavors here (with the exception of some Filipino favorites like Ube), but they will be done to perfection. And the kids will get a kick out of the retro video game tables (Ms. Pacman!) and jukebox. Check out their website for a full listing of northern California stores, with a few now open on the Peninsula.

Price: Inexpensive
3080 El Cerrito Plaza
El Cerrito, Ca
510-521-0873
Open Sunday through Thursday 12–9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 12–10 p.m.
Online: loards.com

Tara’s Organic Ice Cream
Tara’s is a must for any adventurous dessert lover, and the crowds have spoken: Tara’s now has three locations: the original Berkeley, Oakland and a brand new spot in Pleasanton. Ready to take the leap? Try Butternut Curry or Berbere (an Ethiopian spice). For the littles, blueberry mint or banana might hit the spot.

Price: Moderate
3173 College Ave.
Berkeley, Ca
510-655-5014
Open 12–10 p.m. every day

4731 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, CA 94609
510-923-1567
Open 12–10 p.m. every day

349 Main Street
Pleasanton CA 94566
925-425-9989
Open Monday through Friday 12–10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m.

Online: tarasorganic.com

Photo courtesy of Powell’s Sweet Shoppe’s Facebook

Peninsula

Romolo’s Cannoli and Spumoni Factory
If you love all-natural, authentic Italian desserts, this is the place. Try their famous ice cream–filled cannoli, or opt for a fresh fruit sorbet or granita with a couple of cucidati (sugar cookies).

Price: Inexpensive
81 37th Ave.
San Mateo, Ca
650-574-0625
Open Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m.–6:30 pm, Sunday 11 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Online: romoloscannoli.com

Rick’s Rather Rich Ice Cream
This gourmet micro-creamery offers no less than 48 flavors of hand-made ice cream, as well as their version of a popsicle, called ‘frozen ice.’ Try a lavender honey or a white chocolate ginger scoop. They also make yummy sorbet, floats, and sundaes.

Price: Moderate
3946 Middlefield Rd.
Palo Alto, Ca
Open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
Online: ricksicecream.com

Preston’s Candy and Ice Cream
Take a step back in time and visit Preston’s—an old school confectionary where candies are still made on antique equipment and the littles can watch the sweets roll by on the chocolate dipping line. They also organize annual contests like “guess how many jelly beans in the cookie jar” with cool prizes—oh, and there’s ice cream, too!

Price: Inexpensive
1170 Broadway
Burlingame, Ca
Open Monday 11 a.m.–6 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday 11 a.m.–8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Sunday 12–6 p.m.
Online: prestonscandy.com

Powell’s Sweet Shoppe
Yes, it’s a bit gimmicky, but with candy piled to the ceiling, your kids will explore this place with wide-eyed wonder. Score a scoop of gelato and hit the row of movie seats to view some of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  P.S. There are also Powell’s locations in Los Gatos, Novato, Berkeley, and Lafayette.

Price: Moderate
1166 Howard Ave.
Burlingame, Ca
Open Sunday through Thursday 10 a.m.–8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
Online: powellsss.com

Cowabunga Creamery
This surf-themed spot is a San Carlos gem. Whether the kids are little beach bums or not, they are sure to devour their signature flavor: Goofyfoot, a mix of caramel, fudge swirl and Oreos. There are even vegan and sugar free options to choose from. The ice cream pies and cakes are the perfect choice for your next birthday party, too!

Price: Inexpensive
784 Laurel St.
San Carlos, Ca
Open Sunday through Thursday 12–9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 12–10 p.m.
Online: cowabungacreamery.com

Marin

Three Twins Ice Cream
Everyone is screaming for Three Twins these days (and you now can scoop some up at 4 different NorCal shops), but the San Rafael location is where is all started. You can’t go wrong no matter what you order here—it’s all absolutely delish, from their Madagascar vanilla to mint chip, made with dark chocolate flecks real mint and no artificial anything (so don’t expect a neon green scoop). Sit inside, or out on the patio on warm days, or order a pint of ice cream or sorbet to go. SIgn up for a factory tour to see how it’s made!

Price: Moderate
641 Del Ganado Rd.
Terra Linda, North San Rafael, Ca
Open Monday through Thursday 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Friday and Saturday 12:00 pm – 9:30 pm, Sunday 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm.

Oxbow Public Market
610 First Street
Napa, CA 94559
707-257-TWIN (8946)
Open Mon. – Fri. 11:30am – 9pm
Sat. & Sun.: 11am – 9pm

Marin Country Mart
2257 Larkspur Landing Circle
Larkspur, CA 94939
415-461-8946
Mon. – Thu.: 12pm – 9pm
Fri.: 12pm – 10pm

Sat.: 11am – 10pm
Sun.: 11am – 9pm

254 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
415-487-TWIN (8946)
Mon. – Thu.: 12pm – 10pm

Fri. 12pm – 11pm
Sat. 11am – 11pm
Sun. 11am – 10pm
Online: threetwinsicecream.com

Fairfax Scoop
63 Broadway Boulevard, Fairfax, open every day from noon to 10:00 pm, cash only.
This tiny place always seems to have a line outside. It serves scrumptious, all-organic ice cream, soy ice cream, and sorbet, and makes its own waffle cones.
Price: Inexpensive
Online: Not yet!

Noci
17 E. Blithdale Ave., Mill Valley, open Sunday thru Thursday 11:30 am – 9:00 pm, Friday and Saturday 11:30 am – 10:00 pm.
Okay, we know it’s gelato, but it’s so rich, delectable, and creamy (love the chocolate) that we had to include this artisanal scoop shop. They cater to people with nut and gluten allergies, too!
Price: Moderate
Online: nocigelato.com

Admittedly, our list is massive, but hey, we love ice cream! Let us know if we’ve missed your favorite place to grab a scoop. And, while you’re at it, let us know what you order in the comments below (we’re partial to the salted caramel at Bi-Rite). 

—Annie Sheldon and Erin Feher

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