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Jul 15, 2004 01:44 PM

Best ice cream in SF Bay Area

  • r

Who makes the best ice cream, gelato, granita, etc. in the Bay Area?

My nominations:

- Bombay Ice Cream (552 Valencia, SF)

- Fenton's (nut flavors)

- Gelato Classico (almond, pistachio)

- Mitchell's macapuno and buko (industry-standard ice cream, except for the incredible coconut flavors)

- Naia (2106 Shattuck, Berkeley): most flavors too sweet for my taste, but otherwise very authentic

- Slanted Door (when they have jackfruit or similar tropical fruit flavors)

- Zuni: coffee or blood orange granita

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  1. Mitchell's also gets a big shout-out for Black Walnut--a flavour like no other.
    It Stands Alone.

    Naia: chocolate marzipan, malt and pistachio

    Fenton's is dreadful airy weird mouthfeel stuff.

    Bombay sometimes has a nice version of Cardamon although they will often serve old freezer burn ic and it is inconsistant.

    What about Marco Polo?

    I used to make some amazing ice cream: Lemon Basil (one herb), rosemary caramel, and brown sugar, as well as a lime based granita sweetened with a syrup infused with verbena, kaffir lime and lemon basil. I am surprised you are leaving out one of my old employer's that I cannot mention here.

    and how about that quirky place in Bernal Heights?

    I am trying to remember where I had peppermint stick that reminded me of Brigham's.....


    11 Replies
    1. re: sailorbuoys
      RWCFoodie (Karen)

      I reeealllyyyy liked the Black Sesame at Marco Polo... Last week Cynthia told me she had durian & soursop (I think that was the combination) that was awesome.

        1. re: RWCFoodie (Karen)


          2004 thread updated in 2007 with a 2008 question bumping it up. So take it with that in mind

          Anyway ... July is National Ice Cream month ... so some reminders might be appropriate.

          An addition ... Haven't tried it yet but Wild Fox in Novato makes its own ice cream and has some interesting sounding shakes. That's about all I can think of that isn't mentioned.

          1. re: rworange

            Milano has changed hands since the previous post to this topic. New name is Gelateria Almare. Hasn't changed much.


        2. re: sailorbuoys

          I agree on quality control at Bombay, although when the jones for kesar pista hits, that's where I go.

          I like Mitchell's quite a bit for flavors I can't get anywhere else, in addition to the buko, macapuno and black walnut, there's Mexican Chocolate and their Dulce de Leche is much better than other options.

          Still need to get out to Marco Polo -- so many great flavors to choose from. And I've never tried Rick's Rather Rich, but from what I've heard, I expect to see kudos.

          I'd love to hear more about your recipe for brown sugar ice cream, sailorbuoys. I suppose that's not appropriate here so I've included my email address if you're so inclined.

          1. re: sailorbuoys

            We checked out Real Ice Cream in Santa Clara on Thursday night. When we told the proprietress that we were from SF, she said that Bombay carries some of their ice creams, but not all are sourced from them.

            I've had the saffron ice cream at Citizen Cake. The base can't be faulted but it's not as saffron-y meaning verging on bitter as the Persian or Indian places serve.

            The yogurt sherbert at Aziza has been lovely. The buttermilk ice cream at Slanted Door is also terrific.

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              Robert Lauriston

              Speaking of saffron ice cream, Helmand makes a good one.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Ooh, I'll have to try it. That's getting a little closer geographically to Persian style.

                Still looking for a local producer who can best the variable Mashti Malone. Love the chunks of frozen cream that stud the saffron and rosewater base of its Persian ice cream.


                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I had a cardamom date/fig nit ice cream at the Helmand in Baltimore that was the best ice cream I have ever had in my life. I ordered whatever flavor they happened to have at the SF location (just cardamom I believe) and sadly it tasted icy and a little freezer burned.

              2. re: sailorbuoys

                sailorbuoys there use to be a ice cream place on Solano Ave. on the corner, they made an excellent peppermint stick.. not sure if still there. McConnells Ice Cream in Santa Barbara made one of the best. Also, Maggie Mudd in Bernal Heights makes a petty good one as well.

                1. re: Lori SF

                  Yeah ... I forgot the name ... I think you are talking about the place that is currently Tacubaya ... I think it was an ice cream joint many lives ago. Right now the ice cream places on Solano serve Bud or Mitchel

              3. Tucker's wine ice creams (when they have them). The Zinfandel chocolate chip is merely very good, but the Syrah they had last year was out of this world. I'm also partial to their Cookies and Cream.

                Zax tangerine sorbet (seasonal). Like eating tangerine snow.

                My current favorite Gelato Classico flavor is the fresh ginger I've been buying at Trader Joe's.

                1. I realize this is culinary history, but allow me to make a fond mention of the ginger ice cream with bittersweet chocolate sauce at the old China Moon on Post Street.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Paulie

                    ..........maybe I could make this for you.

                    1. re: sailorbuoys

                      A while back I found the Barbara Tropp recipe by googling "ginger ice cream" came out pretty well, but we didn't do as well with bittersweet chocolate sauce...thanks for the offer...

                    2. re: Paulie
                      Robert Lauriston

                      Bombay Ice Cream has ginger. Pretty good, though I'm happier with my homemade than with any ginger ice cream I've had in a restaurant. (See my Web site for a recipe.)

                    3. I love good (not too sweet with strong tea flavor) green tea ice cream, Have not found a great one here, but Joe's on Geary comes close. Don't know if they make their own.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: deelish

                        Tuckers in Alameda has a seasonal green tea ice cream that I really liked the last time I went.

                        1. re: deelish

                          Hi, is it anywhere near Westin St Francis?

                          1. re: iclee

                            No, it's in the Richmond district, about four miles away.

                        2. Swensen's on Hyde & Union is exceptional. No fancy flavors but a top-notch experiecne nonetheless.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Zak Williams

                            This is one of my favorite places to get a cone. This is the original and the ice creams are made fresh in small batches.