San Francisco’s ice cream scene is outstanding, with beloved local spots such as Bi-Rite Creamery as well as two locations of the PNW’s famed Salt & Straw. From one corner to the next, San Francisco has it all when it comes to cold treats. These incredible scoop shops can be found just blocks away from any point in San Francisco, so you’ll never be too far when you get a hankering for something sweet. Below, we invite you to indulge in our guide to the best ice cream in San Francisco.
The Very Best Ice Cream in San Francisco
With three locations in the city and two others in the Bay, Smitten screams San Francisco. At the heart of each location, you’ll find the owner’s custom-built Brrr Machine which is capable of using liquid nitrogen and locally sourced ingredients to create a fresh batch of ice cream within minutes! Can you say “Tech Ya”?! The techy treats found here definitely count as some of the best ice cream in San Francisco. Their chocolate ganache ice cream has a texture unlike any other; it’s unbelievable creamy and smooth, with all the flavor depth and richness you’d expect in a great chocolate ice cream. For a fun twist, we love the cookie dough with pretzels and chocolate chips flavor. You’ll experience a different flavor and texture with each and every bite! The waffle bowls at Smitten have a subtle citrus flavor that is very unique but doesn’t take away from the ice cream. We absolutely love this place!
9. Humphry Slocombe
Humphry Slocombe is more than just an ice cream shop, it a dessert destination! Here, you’ll find a few staple flavors and dozens that change from time to time, including several infused with alcohol and other unique mix-ins. Brimming with creativity, Humphry Slocombe no-doubt serves up some of the best ice cream in San Francisco. Malted milk chocolate and Harvey Milk + Honey Graham are two of their simpler flavors, but still pack more dimension than you’ll know what to do with. Malted milk chocolate has an immense amount of milk chocolate flavor with just a touch of malt. Harvey Milk + Honey Graham is a popular choice with its milky creaminess and yummy, gooey globs of graham crackers. These simple, sweet flavors will have you in love at first lick.
Souvla is typically known for their creative spin on traditional Greek food. However, they have created an outstanding treat, frozen Greek yogurt, that in and of itself will bring you back. Although it’s not technically ice cream, Souvla’s frozen Greek yogurt definitely deserves a spot on our guide to the best ice cream in San Francisco. With its locations in Hayes Valley, Nopa, The Mission, and The Marina, Souvla has become a staple for San Francisco locals and visitors alike. There are five variations of the same base yogurt flavor; Baklava Crumbles & Honey Syrup being our favorite. The toppings in this flavor resemble all the deliciousness of traditional baklava and pairs incredibly well with the smooth, tangy yogurt. Trust us when we say you do not want to miss this next-level dessert.
7. Bi-Rite Creamery
Bi-Rite is a well-known local market and creamery that is an absolute must when you are in San Francisco. Located in the heart of the Mission, where San Francisco temperatures are always at their peak and the ice cream is always flowing. Try all of Bi-Rite’s flavors, grab your favorite, and then walk kitty-corner to Dolores park and relish in the sunshine and some of the best views in the city. Every flavor here is tasty and has a perfect icy yet still creamy texture. Their award-winning Salted Caramel is incredibly unique. Its browned butter, roasted caramel flavor will just melt away on the tip of your tongue. The local fame is well-deserved here, so be sure to go grab a scoop of some of the best ice cream in San Francisco.
Shaved ice and ice cream had a baby and it’s name is Powder! Located in the Lower Haight, you need to run (not walk) to Powder because this frosty treat is unlike any other. Order the cereal flavor and top it with sweetened condensed milk and Fruity Pebbles for a trip down nostalgia lane. It’s sweet, fluffy, and creamy but surprisingly does not feel like a sugary overload. Pair this melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness with cartoons for the ultimate childhood bliss! Powder has crafted an insanely delicious dessert and some of the best ice cream in San Francisco.
It should come as no surprise that Ghirardelli creates some of the very best ice cream in San Francisco. Their signature Ghirardelli Chocolate ice cream is undeniably divine. It’s like diving into a pool of chocolate as you’re immersed in this dark, rich, and not-too-sweet flavor that gives off a frozen hot chocolate vibe. As soon as you’re done, you’re going to want another one. Ghirardelli is the perfect pit stop for something tasty after exploring the popular Fisherman’s Wharf.
4. Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous
Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous is a husband-and-wife-owned ice cream shop serving up some of the best ice cream in San Francisco. Good news! You won’t be overwhelmed when you’re choosing your flavor here because they feature a smaller selection of daily changing flavors. If it’s on the menu, their Horchata ice cream is absolutely worth trying, even if you are not normally a fan of horchata. The flavor notes are flawless, emphasizing the sweetness of cinnamon rather than the spice, making this ice cream cone one we return to over and over. The ice cream here is creamy, soft, light, and easy to love at Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous.
3. Salt & Straw
With Portland being Salt & Straw’s original home, we are lucky to get not one, but two of these famous ice cream shops in our city! Located in the Hayes Valley and Pacific Heights neighborhoods, Salt & Straw makes artisanal flavors completely unique to each geographical location which is tons of fun and makes the shop feel a little more local. Two of their mainstay flavors that can be found at every shop are Chocolate Gooey Brownie and Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons. Chocolate Gooey brownie is exactly how it sounds: perfectly fudgy bits of housemade brownies infused with marshmallow fluff swimming in decadent chocolate ice cream. Rich, dense, and delicious. Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons absolutely hits the spot as well. You’ll love how the sweet swirls of caramel are balanced with just enough salt to keep things interesting. Homemade waffle cones? You know they’ve got them and they’re classically delicious. If you’re wondering whether the ice cream shop that has Chrissy Teigen raving really lives up to the hype, we are here to confirm that YES, it 100% does.
2.The Ice Cream Bar
One word comes to mind when we think of The Ice Cream Bar: Wow. From the top of the scoop to the tip of the cone, you will absolutely devour whatever you order here. This local Cole Valley spot is charming and always offers up a good time. Go with the Banana Puddin for a taste of some of the best ice cream in San Francisco. You will be amazed at how good this flavor is with its real pieces of banana and chewy bits of banana bread in every creamy bite. The waffle cones here are made with cornmeal, making them crunchier and more delicious than we ever thought possible. It’s safe to say that the Ice Cream Bar is an absolute can’t-miss spot.
For the best ice cream in San Francisco, head straight to Mitchell’s. This place is your traditional, tried-and-true, everybody-loves-it, you-need-it ice cream shop. Although there are a couple of unique flavors here, Mitchell’s mostly focuses on mastering all the flavors you already know and love. Because there’s no need to be inventive when you’ve already perfected everyone’s favorite classics! Their Grasshopper Pie is a delicious mixture of good old fashion mint chip plus cookies and cream. The Oreo clumps in this flavor are to die for—perfectly gushy, chewy, and sweet—and the chocolate chunks are just the right size and thickness, making for the best possible combo. The ice cream itself is incredible and has the perfect density. Not too heavy but not so soft it will melt off your cone. We can’t wait for you to indulge in the best ice cream in San Francisco at Mitchell’s!