Local Flavor

Where to find the best ice cream in San Francisco

My boyfriend and I constantly try to outdo each other. In 2019, we were setting up plans to spend his 30th birthday in Japan… so come 2021, I arranged his gifts around a virtual tour, beginning at a konbini and ending at hot springs. He countered with getting me 30 books for my 30th, so I’d have something to open every day for a month.

We were talking about that concept on the way home from a vax appointment with some friends. We had the Krispy Kreme app open, excited to redeem our updated cards, and discovered they had a total of 42 flavors.

“Well, I guess I know what I’m doing for your birthday in a decade or so,” I said, thinking: too bad there isn’t something like that for 31.

…wait a second…

Several months later, we are still in the process of reclaiming our freezer from the 31 mostly-local flavors we bought to try. Here are the winners, according to both us and the panel of partygoers:

Double Rainbow cinnamon churro ice cream
This didn’t last a full day once we opened it.
  • The best nondairy option by far was Double Rainbow‘s cinnamon churro. The ice cream would stand out on its own, but then there are also tiny snickerdoodle-like pieces blended in – doubly delicious, with a more entertaining mouthfeel. Remarkably complex for a creation with necessarily restricted ingredients.
  • The best full dairy was Humphry Slocombe‘s malted chocolate. As with the churro, it’s deceptively deep, the malt’s appearance standing it out in the sea of standard chocolate ice creams.
  • Two particularly local coffee flavors are also near the top: Smitten‘s Equator and Humphry Slocombe’s Blue Bottle Vietnamese.
  • Unsurprisingly, Bi-Rite Creamery‘s chocolate and salted caramel ice creams lived up to their reputation. The line really is worth it.

Most of these were purchased at their own stores. Those that weren’t came from The Epicurean Trader, which carried almost all of them regardless.