The Bay Area’s Best Ice Cream

July 18, 2014

Ice cream week here at HonestlyYUM wouldn’t be complete without a roundup of some of our favorite scoops from around the Bay. I can proudly say that we truly boast some of the best ice cream, well, just about anywhere! Hopefully this list is helpful for those of you visiting the SF Bay Area. And locals, please chime in with your favorites – inevitably I left out some well-deserving spots (there are so many amazing choices!!!). I definitely plan on heading back out for a few more cones this weekend. Speaking of which, don’t forget to stop by Fentons Creamery’s 120th anniversary celebration this Sunday, July 20th, from 12-3pm for some serious ice cream fun!

Coconut Chocolate Chip Almond (Vegan) – Ice Cream Bar, San Francisco

This 1930’s style soda fountain in Cole Valley has floats, phosphates, shakes and sundaes – not to mention some of the best ice cream I’ve EVER eaten – vegan or not.

The Bay Area's Best Ice Cream by HonestlyYUM

Ube – Mitchell’s, San Francisco

One of San Francisco’s oldest ice cream parlors, Mitchell’s knows a thing or two about making ice cream. In fact, I’d drive days for a scoop of their Ube (purple yam). Luckily, it’s just right across the Bay in the Mission district.

The Bay Area's Best Ice Cream by HonestlyYUM

Lemon Meringue – Ici, Berkeley

Soft, fluffy meringue is mixed right into this beautiful creation. Oh, and make sure you get a cone – there’s a surprise at the bottom!

The Bay Area's Best Ice Cream by HonestlyYUM

Butternut Curry – Tara’s Organic, Berkeley

If you’re into some seriously creative, savory flavors in your ice cream then Tara’s is for you. I was also a big fan of their garam masala.

The Bay Area's Best Ice Cream by HonestlyYUM

TCHO Chocolate – Smitten, Oakland

While I dig several of Smitten’s flavors, their TCHO 60.5% Chocolate might be my favorite chocolate ice cream in the Bay. Talk about rich and creamy. And as you Smitten fans know, your ice cream is made to order using liquid nitrogen!!

The Bay Area's Best Ice Cream by HonestlyYUM

Black Sesame – Marco Polo, San Francisco

This tiny little shop way out in San Francisco’s Parkside district is home to a variety of interesting flavors: durian, jackfruit, lychee, and red bean to name a few. But it’s their black sesame that has me making the trip out from the East Bay.

The Bay Area's Best Ice Cream by HonestlyYUM

Salted Caramel – Bi-Rite Creamery, San Francisco

Still the best salted caramel around. Don’t even try to convince me otherwise . . .

The Bay Area's Best Ice Cream by HonestlyYUM

Secret Breakfast – Humphry Slocombe, San Francisco

Bourbon and corn flakes . . . need I say more?

The Bay Area's Best Ice Cream by HonestlyYUM

Mint Chip – iScream, Berkeley

Let’s be honest, we all crave mint chip now and then. Unless it’s the mint chip from iScream, in which case I crave it on the daily! Incredibly creamy and full of fresh mint flavor, this one always hits the spot. I’m a huge fan of their Meyer lemon as well.

The Bay Area's Best Ice Cream by HonestlyYUM

Turkish Coffee – Swensen’s, San Francisco

Any flavor from this San Francisco classic is just about perfect. But you know me and coffee . . . I’ll take it however I can get it.

The Bay Area's Best Ice Cream by HonestlyYUM

Just to note, many of these flavors rotate seasonally, weekly, or even daily, so don’t be surprised if they aren’t available the day you arrive. Luckily, it’s hard to go wrong with any flavor your choose at these wonderful spots.

(images by HonestlyYUM)


I love the basil ice cream from Bi-Rite! It’s definitely worth the two hour drive.

All excellent choices!!! Wish i could have been there for the samplings. I like the pics as well!
Now I know some find it difficult to make it to the far North Bay city of Vallejo, but there is one more must try/buy at Liled’s Candy Kitchen and Ice Cream…. Double French Chocolate, Grand Marnier, Pistachio, Macadamia Nut -ooh I could go on….. Honestly tasty!
No, I do not have any stake in this company other than being a local resident and would like to see them continue to succeed.

1318 Tennessee St, Vallejo, CA 94590
(707) 643-7425

A little bit farther north, and def worth the trip, Screaming Mimi’s in Sebastopol…yum, yum, yum.

Thanks for the awesome suggestion Shelly! I actually head up North quite a bit. Next time I’ll definitely swing by Mimi’s.

Your photos are unreal! Can you please tell me what kind of camera you use?

Hi Amy! Wow, thank you SOOO much!! That’s very nice of you to say. I use a Canon t4i and have a few different lenses. For this shoot I was switching between a Canon 50mm f1.4 prime lens and a Tamron 24-70mm f2.8. Thanks again!!

Great list! I have to check out the Swensen’s Ice Cream. Oh I think I need ice cream right know!

Yum! I used to live in Palo Alto, so I’m familiar with lots of these places. Brings back some great ice cream memories! Thanks for sharing.

Aww, thanks Liz. I’m glad it evoked some nice memories for you. That’s what I love about ice cream – it brings a smile to just about everyone’s face. Thanks for checking out the site 🙂

What a fantastic list, and beautiful photos to boot! I can’t believe I’ve never heard of Marco Polo – black sesame is my favorite. I can’t wait to go there. Have you been to Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous in the Dogpatch? I love that place. And it’s right next to the new Magnolia, too!

Thank you, ty ty ty Alanna..Give MP a go. It’s seriously a hole in the wall, but the black sesame was surprising wonderful. Plus, they have durian you can try 😉 I totally blew it on the Mrs Muscellaneous. It AMAZING…I know. Honorable mention?

That black sesame looks fantastic. Need to get that ASAP.

Thanks for stopping by Garrett!! I think I want to try making it sometime. What do you think?

It looks like I need to com visit CA just for the ice cream. I want them all!

Haha, thanks Tieghan. If you ever visit CA I’ll buy ya an ice cream cone!!

this is a killer post.. that black sesame ice cream is AMAZING.. definitely craving an ice cream right about now!

Thanks for stopping by Thalia! I really, truly, appreciate it. That black sesame was totally a surprise. We got a lot of feedback to go try it when we were researching flavors, and honestly, I didn’t think it would be that great. Boy was I wrong…

try the soft serve at twirl and dip!!!

Thanks for the suggestion, Peggy. I’ve never been to Twirl and Dip, but have heard great things. We tried to limit it to “ice cream” (even though I think Marco Polo borders on gelato..shhhh) since there are so many wonderful soft serve options these days. I see another post in the works!! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

what a fun post. i need to do something like for Dallas, great opportunity to eat ice cream 🙂

I miss living closer to Bi-Rite! The malted vanilla with peanut brittle is my favorite, but salted caramel is definitely a close second. mmmm mouth watering now….

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