Best Ice Cream in San Francisco by Neighborhood
San Francisco is home to some of the best ice cream in the country, from not one, but many different places. Here's the only rundown of the best ice cream spots in the city, by neighborhood.
The Ice Cream Bar (815 Cole Street)
Harken back to the days of the soda fountain and delicious memories of childhood will come back to you. The Ice Cream Bar is a full-service, 1930s-style soda fountain and classic lunch counter, serving house-made ice cream and sodas. On top of this, they also serve "remedies" for the 21-and-up crowd. Never has a place excited the child and adult inside you at the same time. What's popular: New Orleans Hangover (non-alcoholic). What you should get: Sassy Granny Sutton (Alcoholic).
Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous (699 22nd Street)
Started by a couple that has as much experience working at Wolfgang Puck's, Spago, as they have amazing tattoos (re: a lot), this small Dogpatch operation makes ice cream so fresh that they constantly run out of flavors and restock with DIFFERENT flavors throughout the day. What's popular: Pink Squirrel. What you should get: Rosemary Pistachio and Orange Blossom.
Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop (900 North Point Street)
Ghirardelli is a San Francisco institution that has been around since 1852, when they started making the chocolate that we all know and love. Today, Ghirardelli is home to the most decadent ice cream sundaes in the city. It's like an IV of sugar straight to the vein, and it's delicious. What's popular: Ghirardelli Square (Hot Fudge Sundae). What you should get: Treasure Island (Warm Brownie Sundae).
Smitten (432 Octavia Street)
Smitten is a scientist's dream. Every serving of ice cream is made to order using liquid nitrogen that freezes the ingredients while you watch. Many consider this creation the creamiest, most delicious ice cream around. What's popular: TCHO Chocolate. What you should get: Mint Chocolate Chip.
Three Twins Ice Cream (254 Fillmore Street)
Three Twins makes inconceivably delicious organic ice cream. Just imagine someone sitting on a couch and eating an entire carton of their lemon cookie ice cream. If you follow our lead, you can't have just one bite. What's popular: Lemon Cookie. What you should get: Mint Confetti (extra points for the awesome name).
Over the Moon (2144 Chestnut Street)
Inspired by Grandma, Over the Moon is a creamery with a retro bent. The combination of rich, creamy ice cream and warm, gooey, fresh-baked cookies will make you come back every time. What's popular: Honey Lavender. What you should get: Coffee Caramel Crunch (with cookies).
Bi-Rite Creamery (3692 18th Street and 550 Divisadero Street)
Like everything good in San Francisco, there will always be a line out in front of Bi-Rite Creamery, especially if the sun is peeking out behind the clouds. Scratch that; even in a light drizzle, you will see a line. Why? Bi-Rite Creamery is written up every in local and national press. Also, locals are offbeat enough to wait in any weather. What's popular: Salted Caramel. What you should get: Ricanelas (cinnamon with snickerdoodle cookie pieces).
Humphry Slocombe (2790 A Harrison Street)
The ice cream shop to seek out if you like peculiar flavors. Let's give you a rundown of what they offer: foie gras, strawberry candied jalapeno, any number of beers and something called government cheese. You should come here if you like regular flavors too, but you will get a sad puppy face that will eventually sell you on the more unique flavors. What's popular: Secret Breakfast (we won't ruin the secret). What you should get: Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee.
Mitchell's Ice Cream (688 San Jose Avenue)
Technically in the gray area of the Mission or Noe Valley neighborhoods. Before there were lines out the door onto Dolores Park or inventive flavors with the word secret in them, there was Mitchell's. Established in 1953, Mitchell's has been making ice cream in small batches that people keep coming back for time and time again. Ask any native who has lived here for more than 40 years their favorite ice cream, they will tell you to go to Mitchell's. What's popular: Stracciatella. What you should get: Grasshopper Pie.
Gelateria Naia (520 Columbus Avenue)
After realizing there was not one decent scoop of gelato in the Bay Area, the owners decided to make their own. After traveling to Italy and meeting with master artisans, they started making their small-batch gelato by hand. People haven't stopped coming back since. What's popular: Ube (Peruvian). What you should get: Zabajone and Nocciola.
Joe's Ice Cream (5420 Geary Boulevard)
Want a traditional scoop of ice cream in the Richmond? Joe's is the place. The family-run ice cream shop has been serving its award-winning homemade ice cream flavors to locals and visitors alike since 1959. We could say the ice cream is known for its texture, a delicate balance of creaminess, sweetness and flavor that has stood the test of time, but really it's known for it's deliciousness throughout the neighborhood. What's popular: Blueberry Cheesecake. What you should get: Coffee Crunch and a Joe's It.
Frozen Kuhsterd (Mobile)
What's the difference between frozen custard and ice cream? About one egg yolk, give or take. Because of that (and the fact that people come running when they show up), we are including California's first frozen custard food truck on this list. Their unique flavors are inspired from their ethnic backgrounds and foods that they've eaten around the world. What's popular: Burnt Caramel. What you should get: Thai Tea
Swensen's (1999 Hyde Street)
What is a global franchise today actually started in 1948 on Union Street and Hyde. Over the years, Swensen's has modified their offerings to match the ever-changing American palette, but the three things they have never sacrificed are quality, quantity and value for your money. What's popular: Sticky Chewy Chocolate. What you should get: Swiss Orange Chip.
Marco Polo Italian Ice Cream & Polly Ann Ice Cream (Marco Polo: 1447 Taraval Street • Polly Ann: 3138 Noriega Street)
Marco Polo and Polly Ann are two ice cream shops that offer the same delicious flavors — and they are equally delicious. They both have flavors you won't find anywhere else, like black sesame, arcobaleno and green tea. What's popular: Durian. What you should get: Lychee.
Holy Gelato! (1392 9th Avenue)
Can you get any weirder than durian and lychee ice cream flavors? The answer is yes. Holy Gelato!, home to deliciously popular gelato, has a goat cheese flavor. If you create it, people will come. What's popular: Irish Morning. What you should get: Goat Cheese.