Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Nov 25, 2008 08:51 AM

Swensen's Ice Cream Thanksgiving Special Flavors

Driving past the original Swensen's on Sunday I noticed a poster in the window promoting four special flavors for Thanksgiving. Egg Nog, Spumoni, Pumpkin . . . and someone else will have to fill in the fourth one for us.

Swensen's Grill & Ice Cream
1999 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I called & the 4th flavor for Thanksgiving is: Rum Raisin

    15 Replies
    1. re: hhc

      Thanks for doing that. Now we need to hear how they taste. I'm especially interested in the spumoni performance given recent discussions.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        So a legal parking spot was waiting for me across the street which was the sign to stop ... especially in that nabe.

        The egg nog, rum raisin and pumpkin tastes were very good. I liked the egg nog more than the version I had at Tara's recently which while good, was lighter than I prefer. Swensen's was everything I look for in egg not ice cream. Ditto on the rum raisin. The pumpkin had nice spicing and I was thinking sometime I should see how this compares to Mitchell's which is my gold standard for pumpkin ice cream. However, I've filled my seasonal pumpkin ice cream craving. The moment has passed till next year.

        So ... these were all so great, I order a scoop of spumoni without a taste ... and my spirits dived when I see that scoop of white spumoni plopped in the cup. Way too classy a version for me with nuts and dried fruit mixed througout.

        It was good, but I need my phony spumoni. I need the bright green pistachio. I need chocolate ice cream. It must be some cosmic payback for my mocking Ici's spumoni on the baord.

        I liked this Swensen's a lot. They even had a water fountain in there. You don't see that much anymore. Somehow ice cream is always better with a water chaser afterward.

        1. re: rworange

          I believe the Hyde St location is the original, hence the old school amenities.

          1. re: ML8000

            Hyde Street is definitely the original location. We don't go there anymore, as we've pretty much given up on getting a parking place in that neighborhood.

            Does anyone else remember an old flavor of theirs, "Taffy Apple"? I'm talking decades ago.

            1. re: Steve Green

              I did luck out parking-wise. This was the first time I've been on that section of Hyde during daylight hours. There is a green 10 minute zone in front of Swenson's on the Hyde side and a few doors down there's a parking garage should you want to spend $3 to run in for an ice cream cone.

              1. re: Steve Green

                I was in Bangkok and there is a Swenson's there too!

                1. re: baron45

                  I think the SF store is different from the others in the chain

                  "Swensen sold the brand to new investors in the 1970s but retained exclusive rights in San Francisco and continued to operate his original store (which still exists today) until 1994, a year before his death at age 83. "

                  1. re: rworange

                    So does that mean that the original store is still in the family or did it revert back to the "new investors" after Swensen passed away? I remember the rum raisin from my youth - I used to live near the Swensen's in the North Point shopping center on Bay Street.

                    1. re: gordon wing

                      I don't know. I moved here after Swenson's was sold. My first taste of the ice cream was from that North Point store sometime in the 90's and I thought 'ick'. Until stopping at the Hyde St store this week that was the only taste of Swenson's I tried. What I had tasted better than my decade old memory. So either they are still doing something different at Hyde St or the chain improved the ice cream after they started closing stores.

                      Or I'm getting tired of upscale frou-frou ice cream and getting nostalgic about simple ice cream ... nah ... Baskin Robbins certainly doesn't taste any better to me these days.

                      1. re: rworange

                        Isn't there still some ice cream making equipment in the front? I believe that the ice cream is made in small batches here on site, which may explain part of the difference. Thanks for giving it a try . . . I haven't had good parking karma in that vicinity for a while and hiking up to Hyde Street is a bit much . . . I'd really earn my ice cream cone.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          The #45 bus stops right in front of Swensens.

                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                            Yes, that's true, but it makes me feel too slug-like to take it three blocks. (gggg)

                            When I was a wee one, we'd take the cable car on Hyde to Swensen's, now that's a true SF experience.

                          2. re: Melanie Wong

                            I wasn't paying too much attention to the shop since I was focused on the water fountain (I'm easily distracted at times). So can't say if there's ice cream making equipment or not. Guess I'll just have to re-visit ... and get some egg nog ice cream.

                        2. re: gordon wing

                          Swensen's on Union is owned by Roy Campana, a former manager.

            2. re: hhc

              They used to have a great rum raisin years and years ago. I don't remember it being a special seasonal flavor so much as a specialty.