(credit: Thinkstock)

What makes the best ice cream in San Francisco truly the best? If it’s taste alone that counts, getting agreement is quite impossible. So, we’re considering other factors, too: organic and local, handmade individual scoops, a retro soda fountain service, oldest family operation, and if it is available in the grocer’s freezer for emergency runs. Although there are dozens of great places, here are six great ice cream shops around San Francisco.

(credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)

 

 

The Ice Cream Bar
815 Cole St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 742-4932
www.theicecreambarsf.com

Four reasons why The Ice Cream Bar is one of the city’s best spots for old-fashioned ice cream with toppings, fizzy floats, hot fudge and brownie sundaes come to mind immediately. First, the totally cool retro design is fantastic, both inside and out. Second, smartly-attired soda jerks are behind the counter, much to the delight of the after-school crowd. Third, when the kids are home and the babysitter shows up, it’s a 21-plus date night spot, with bites and boozy cocktails, called ‘remedies.’

Bi-Rite Ice Cream (credit: foodiechap.com)

 

 

Bi-Rite Creamery
3692 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 626-5600
www.biritecreamery.com

San Francisco born and bred, Bi-Rite bakeshop makes everything that goes into their ice cream. Pile two scoops, or three, on a (gluten-free optional) cone, get a cup, a soft serve, or take a pint home when the wait is 30 minutes or more. Popular flavors, like salted caramel, Earl Grey, lavender honey and balsamic strawberry (seasonal), are ready to go in tubs. Everything is sophisticated, smooth, light and not too sweet. If you’ve never had olive oil on ice cream, ask for a ‘dainty gentleman’ sundae.

Humphry Slocombe at Ferry Building (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)

 

 

Humphry Slocombe
2790 A Harrison St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 550-6971
www.humphryslocombe.com

Also now open at the Ferry Building, the “ice cream with attitude” don’t call their flavors strange, but do deserve the crown for unforgettable and surprisingly delicious flavors. Top of the chalkboard flavor chart is ‘Secret Breakfast,’ which includes bourbon and cornflakes. Blue Bottle Vietnamese coffee rates high, too, among customers. A rotating selection of savory flavors might include those featuring red beets, prosciutto, foie gras, sweet corn and McEvoy olive oil. Standouts from the creative naming sessions includes ‘Elvis: The Fat Years,’ a banana bacon peanut brittle.

Three Twins (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)

 

 

Three Twins
254 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 487-8946
www.threetwinsicecream.com

Celebrating 10 years, loyalists are pleased with two new flavors launched by Three Twins in 2015: Cherry Chocolate Chunk and Banana Nut Confetti with toasted walnuts. Each is the only organic offering of its kind available, making a lineup of 23 certified flavors. Meanwhile, there’s something special going on with diehard Lemon Cookie fans — and don’t overlook Vanilla. Born in San Rafael and made in Petaluma, this Bay Area business has grown to employ 100 to meet the demand for organic ice cream. If you can’t make it to the shop, you can find Three Twins in the grocer’s freezer.

Mrs. & Mrs. Miscellaneous
699 22nd St.
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 970-0750
www.facebook.com/pages/Mr-and-Mrs-Miscellaneous

When you’re anywhere near the Dogpatch, stop in. It’s right off the 3rd St. T-Line, a sole location gaining a strong following since 2010. The owner couple, Ian Flores and Annabelle Topacio, have pastry chef backgrounds from Postrio and Spago in Southern California and CUT in Beverly Hills. They rotate about nine flavors weekly, usually including one of the tea flavors, scooped in kids, single, double or triple sized servings.

(credit: mitchellsicecream.com)

 

 

Mitchell’s
688 San Jose Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 648-2300
www.mitchellsicecream.com

San Francisco has a great deal of love and admiration for this family-owned and operated business. Come in to the shop the family built themselves and opened in this same spot in 1953 by the Mitchell brothers, Larry and Jack. The second generation business has 200 original recipes used for a host of tropical and traditional flavors. The small batch flavors are made on the premises with 16 percent buttermilk, but don’t let that deter you. After all, nobody ever said delicious wasn’t fattening. Let them take you back to the 50s with sundaes, banana splits, floats and ice cream sandwiches.

Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she’s writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Yahoo, USA Today, eHow, and on Examiner.com.

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