It’s never a bad time to expand your ice cream repertoire! San Francisco is home to absolutely classic ice cream shops, from the iconic Swensen’s dating back to 1948 to Bi-Rite Creamery’s ethically-sourced small batch creations. But if you’re looking to step a little out of the box, here are 5 ice cream shops in San Francisco that bring something new to the table.
1. Uji Time Dessert
This woman/AAPI-owned business specializes in classic taiyaki with a twist. Taiyaki, a popular street food in Japan, is a cake made with traditional waffle batter in the shape of a tai, or red seabream, which is a symbol of luck.
These taiyaki creations are upgraded with unique and fun soft serve flavors, including black sesame, lychee, matcha, ube, Thai ice tea, tofu, yuzu passion fruit, lavender, coffee, and more. You can order it in a taiyaki, waffle cone, or cup.
2. The Baked Bear
Here’s your go-to spot for custom ice cream sandwiches made with fresh-baked cookies and brownies. Not only can you mix and match your top and bottom cookie (flavors include classic chocolate chip, Funfetti, snickerdoodle, and vegan options), but you can also have your ice cream sandwich rolled in toppings around the edge such as Fruity Pebbles and mini M&Ms.
The Baked Bear has 12 house-made, original-recipe ice cream flavors to choose from. Try their caramel pretzel fudge for a nice crunch texture, or toasted s’mores for an extra layer of flavor. They also rotate in seasonal options across the board, such as blueberry muffin cookies and strawberry shortcake ice cream.
3. Matcha Cafe Maiko
If you want a dessert as delicious as it is luxurious, then you’ll want to try Matcha Cafe Maiko in San Francisco at one of their 3 locations. Their Golden “Shogun” Soft Serve is a lavish and picture perfect treat featuring a swirl of creamy soft serve in flavors like matcha or ube. Their matcha is premium quality and comes straight from Uji, a southern part of Kyoto, Japan.
But the real fun starts when they add the real and edible 24k gold leaf that tops each cone. It really elevates your ice cream into an undeniably luxe treat that’s perfect for photo ops.
Smitten is known for churning their ice cream on the spot in-shop with Smitten CEO Robyn Sue Fisher’s patented countertop Brrr® ice cream machine. The machine churns and freezes the ice cream evenly using liquid nitrogen and viscosity control systems.
The result is a silky smooth ice cream that Vogue once named “the freshest, if not the best, ice cream on Earth,” probably because you can actually watch local ingredients turned into ice cream right before your eyes. The clouds of liquid nitrogen vapor certainly add to the mystique, and it only takes 2 minutes to reach that unparalleled smooth texture.
5. Humphry Slocombe
Named after 2 characters from the 1970s sitcom “Are You Being Served?”, this queer-owned business creates delicious and unusual ice cream flavors that are geared towards adults. At any given time you’ll find a limited but ever-changing selection in-store, ranging from the more tame Malted Milk Chocolate to the unconventional Chili Vanilla or Peanut Butter Curry.
One of their most popular flavors is Secret Breakfast (bourbon ice cream with cornflake cookies), but be sure to keep going back for a chance at trying even more unconventional savory ingredients, which can range from olive oil to prosciutto to mushrooms.
Featured image: @cyntheats on Instagram