i heart SF ice cream

I made it back to May Chan & Robotaki in the East Village, and even though I should probably write about how much I enjoyed their miso ramen and pajeon (Korean pancakes), I’m still a little bitter about the whole being-turned-away-on-their-pre-opening-night thing. Plus, it’s hot out and it’s so much more fun to write about ice cream. San Francisco knows how to do ice cream right. First stop, Bi-Rite Creamery. Be warned — the lines at this place at night are INSANE. We’re talking lines-around-the-block insane. Just go mid-day, mid-week and you’ll be fine.

I don’t think you can go wrong here. Lots of exciting choices and sophisticated variations. But if you’re really lucky…

… a foodie friend will have tipped you off about Sam’s Sundae. Order it. Trust me, don’t even think about not getting this. The description is “chocolate ice cream, organic bergamot olive oil, maldon sea salt, and whipped cream.” My description is “the best grown-up ice cream sundae ever.” I’m not saying your 5-year-old is gonna love it. I’m saying if you want to try something really special, this is it. Pure, perfect flavors that work together beautifully.

That olive oil thing isn’t just a gimmick. I took this shot after scooping in, and you can see the oil around the edges of the bottom. I don’t know why it works so perfectly with the chocolate, salt and whipped cream, but it does. I wonder if I can find some bergamot olive oil to try this at home. By the way, don’t forget to stop by the Bi-Rite Market down the street for amazing breads, cheeses, wine, and more.

I have to give a shout-out to Bombay Ice Cream nearby on Valencia, even if they were sold out of the saffron ice cream I love for the entire week! I went with a mango-rose milk shake instead. And as others may tell you, it’s really just the special Indian flavors that you should try at Bombay. They make regular ice cream flavors too, but you can get those anywhere.

On to Mitchell’s, also not too far from Bi-Rite. Actually, if you’re from out of town and walking there, along the way you might feel like, “where the heck am I going?” but don’t give up.

Again, consider yourself fortunate if you get tipped off about the buko (baby coconut) flavor. What a treat, so simple and perfect. Yes, it’s worth a trip to Mitchell’s just to try this once.

Jen opted for the halo halo flavor, which is based on a Filipino treat by the same name. That’s Jen happily enjoying her ice cream before a small melting incident…

I can’t talk about the Mission District without mentioning one of my all-time favorite spots, Aquarius Records. Compared to Amoeba, this place is tiny, but if you’re looking for CDs from really interesting bands you’ve probably never heard of before, this is the spot. The best part are their hand-written descriptions for many of the CDs. I could spend all day there reading them.

43 thoughts on “i heart SF ice cream

  1. Ooo.. I've heard about a place that has great Filipino flavors—Mitchell's must be it! Buko definitely conjures up memories of the Philippines. If they have ube I may have to book a trip right now.And I LOVE salt and olive oil used on desserts. That sundae sounds amazing!

  2. Mmmm….ice cream. I've heard so much a bout Mitchell's. Just the fact that they have some of my fav Filipino flavors. I've heard about the buka flavor. I must get that.

  3. danielle: thanks for visitingzoe: sorry!d: i am already looking forward to going backbaconista: actually, yes, Mitchell's does have ube flavorTfaSFs: fig sounds pretty good… very lucky that you live nearby therejenn: sounds like you'd enjoy mitchell's

  4. I think they just had that sundae on "the best thing I ever ate" on food network. sounds like something you have to try!! mmmm and the coconut ice cream, yes please!

  5. oh gosh I do that so much when I'm in NYC…"where the heck are we going?" and then I get sidetracked and find a wonderful little curry joint. Loved this write up.

  6. Chocolate ice cream with sea salt?? Oh wow, I would LIVE in that bowl. Heaven! I need to stop there the next time I go into the city. Now I will be dreaming about this….

  7. Oh jeez. I happen to LOVE ice cream and those flavours look amazing. The baby coconut one is right up my alley! Unfortunately I can't eat ice cream due to a big fat dairy sensitivity. Enjoy another one for me!!!

  8. ca: yeah, i've never tried that but heard about it a few timesstephchows: ha, really?dawn: thanksjglee: yumbridgett: if you're saying you live outside of sf, then i'm jealoustalita: thanks for visitingkoko: hmm, that's too bad. i can't really have straight milk, but ice cream seems ok for me.

  9. Wow, I hope I get a chance to go to SF one day. When I saw your buko ice cream, I immediately started thinking of how we use buko in Filipino desserts and then you mentioned halo-halo! My aunt makes halo halo lumpia (egg rolls) which is a new combination of two very popular dishes.

  10. sylwia: thanks for visitingninette: i'm familiar with those dishes, and i really can't imagine putting them together. your aunt must be very creative.murasaki: i would have assumed gelato was common and popular in spain, since it's so close to italy

  11. LOL – looks like you did your SF ice cream crawl around the same time hubby and I were doing our Princeton ice cream marathon! Not to knock Princeton or anything but I think I would have preferred San Francisco, especially those creative flavors at B-rite! Maybe I can convince hubby to take me to SF if I show him that photo of Sam's Sundae 🙂

  12. The ice cream sound amazing! I'll have to keep this in mind if I visit San Francisco. Have you ever had ice cream from van Leeuwen? I found the truck parked at Prince and Greene and had a scoop of Earl Grey. Sublime.

  13. Do you watch the show: THE BEST THING I EVER ATE on Food Network? It's a show about chefs/personalities and their favorite foods and places to eat. Each show has a theme (desserts, breakfast foods, burgers, etc.)The Sam's Sundae and Bi-Rite Creamery was featured as Aida Mollenkamp(?)'s favorite dessert. When I read your post, I knew it sounded familiar!

  14. oc: yum, thanks for the suggestionchristina: yes, i've had that. very good stuff.lara: i don't know what "it's it" means?helene: i think you'll enjoy itjuliana: and you toosuzanne: i know that show, but haven't actually watched it. i'm not surprised it was featured on the show, because their ice cream and this sundae are amazing.

  15. the oilive oil sundae is phenomenal – swoon. I remember first tasting it. Another good ice place is bombay on valencia between 16 and 17. It is connected to an indian bazaar, and has the best black sesame ice cream I have ever tried. It is truly a different ice cream experience.

  16. katie: i did actually write about bombay in the same post, with a photo too. bombay has bee a fave of mine for a long time.lorraine: i'm not sure where you live, but that's often the case in other cities, that you have to go out for a fancy meal to get the really special stuff in other cities. that's partly what's so amazing about bi-rite.

  17. hi Justin!JEALOUS!!! I love crazy ice cream… been dying to visit SF to try Humphrey Slocombe, and Bi Rite. Did you happen to notice what kind of ice cream makers anyone was using? So curious. Dreamy trip… baby coconut… sam's sundae… oh wow…

  18. Oh, next time you'r in sf, try Ici's in Berkeley. It's amazing and there's always a long line of people. Or, there's this new place in Berkeley that sells organic ice cream!

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