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Jun 24, 2007 06:21 AM

Best Ice Cream in Napa?

So we finally got out dinner plans down for our 4 nights in Napa (Mustards, Wine train because of my husbands love of trains & 4th of July extravaganza, Ad Hoc and last night is kept open at this point depending on our plans. We have a friend in SF that we're trying to hook up with - and if not - might just go into SF anyway since our flight is the red eye and there are several places we'd like to try there).

It occured to me that during the daytime as we're driving around, surely we're going to need something sweet and creamy! Most especially my husband. So, knowing in advance where the best ice cream stands are would be very helpful to us. Nothing too fancy - just good plain old ice cream cones!


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  1. It's weird, but I didn't notice any ice cream parlors on our recent trip to Napa. Model Bakery in St. Helena had a small ice cream case w/ about 8-10 flavors. For some reason, I don't think they make it there but source it from a big name brand. I would think that an old-fashioned candy or drug store might carry some basic stuff, but I don't know where exactly. If you are into milkshakes, then I would check out Taylor's Refresher although I didn't personally sample.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Carb Lover

      I'm going to make a point to try Taylor's - everyone's been raving about it and we can't resist a good burger and shake (make it a malted for me!). I actually think a cheeseburger may well be the ultimate, perfect, comfort food - for me anyway.

      I'd be surprised if there wasn't someplace around. Even in my small NJ town, we have a fabulous home-made gelato store. Seems in an area like Napa, with all the amazing wealth of fresh ingredient available, there has to be a few tucked in somewhere. Hopefully, we'll find them :-)

      1. re: sivyaleah

        The shakes there are good... the one at the ferry building has a Mango shake which I get about every week...

    2. There's a couple of ice cream places along Jefferson from downtown as you head northward toward Trancas, Butter Cream Bakery and Beautiful Ice Cream. I think one of them has a brand name ice cream (Dreyer's or Bud's, maybe?), the other I have no idea about.

      1 Reply
      1. re: josquared

        Unfortunately, Beautiful has closed. The building is now on its way to becoming Taqueria Mixteca, but not open yet.

      2. It won't be long - but not soon enough for you - until Three Twins opens their shop in the Oxbow Market in Napa, which is slated to open in the Fall.

        Up in St. Helena, there is the Big Dipper at 1336 Oak Ave (1 block west of Main St., next to the old Carnegie Library). I also second the motion to stop for a milkshake at Taylors. I'm partial to the espresso bean milkshake.

        Another suggestion would be to stop by Genoa Deli in Napa, which carries Ciao Bella gelato, but only vanilla or chocolate. I seem to vaguely recollect seeing unusual ice creams in the freezer section of one of the local upscale grocery stores (Brown's Valley, Vallerga's, Sunshine or Dean & DeLuca), but I can't remember which. Hey, if you're raiding a grocery store, you should get an It's It, which is a Bay Area ice cream treat.

        Buttercream in Napa has chocolate or vanilla shakes or root beer floats in their diner, but I don't think they have an ice cream case. I've never managed to make it to Beautiful Ice Cream, but the insanely cheerful look of the place makes me laugh.

        Other than that, it's mostly the chains (Baskin Robbins, Cold Stone, Ben & Jerry's, all in Napa). You must absolutely avoid the Napa Valley Creamery on Jefferson at Pueblo. We went there a few months back because my husband thought they made their own ice cream. Not so. It was dirty, the young staff and their loitering friends could barely give us acknowledge us in an otherwise customer-less store and the supposed Dreyer's ice cream was stale and freezer burned, with a nice thick crust of ice. Eeew.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Ruby Louise

          Well Taylors' seems to be the only one worth going to. I can get Ciao Bella, and all the other usual suspects at home.

          But, what is an "It's It" pray tell?

          1. re: sivyaleah

            An It's It is a scoop of ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, mint or coffee) between two oatmeal cookies and dipped in dark chocolate. Available at grocery stores throughout the bay area.

            For more information, check out their website:

            1. re: Ruby Louise

              The best place to get them are the corner liquor-convenience stores in SF. Unless absolutely fresh, theyre not worth it. the cookie should still be crunchy. In my neighborhood, the one on the corner of franklin and union streets has good turnover and many flavors.

        2. Huge ice cream/gelato fan local girl here:
          The best is probably at Pizzeria Tra Vigne, across the street from Taylor's Refresher. Look for the green sign -- same driveway as Merryvale Winery. You can walk it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: maria lorraine

            Ah! Finally someone pointing me in the right direction! Maybe we'll forego the shake for the ice cream across the street :-)

            1. re: sivyaleah

              It's gelato and fantastico...especially the hazelnut. Talking Pizzeria Tra Vigne, not Restaurant Tra Vigne ("among the vines). Again, look for the green sign and Merryvale entrace.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                Thanks Maria, hazelnut one of my absolute favorite flavors. I know the difference between the two restaurants - I was actually thinking about Tra Vigne for dinner one night but decided on Mustards instead.