Bi-Rite Creamery (credit: Randy Yagi)

It’s no secret that San Francisco is one of the world’s greatest food destinations. But what may be surprising is that the City by the Bay is also renowned for its number of nationally acclaimed ice cream shops. With the Bay Area entering its warmest time of the year, more and more people will seek out the best spots for the tastiest and sweetest ice cream treats. The following are five of the best spots in San Francisco for ice cream, shakes and ice cream sundaes.

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

There’s a good reason why there always seems to be a line of people out the door at Bi-Rite Creamery. Easily one of San Francisco’s best ice cream shops, Bi-Rite Creamery was the city’s first to use an organic dairy – the North Bay’s Straus Family Creamery – for their milk and cream. Customers can order Bi-Rite’s signature sundaes, such as the popular Afternoon Snack, Berry Sundae, Sam’s Sundae and Dainty Gentleman, or make their own with one or two scoops of ice cream, toppings and sauces of their choice. Located in the Mission District, Bi-Rite Creamery is part of the family-owned Bi-Rite Market and opened a new shop last year on Divisadero Street, a block from Alamo Square.

Humphry Slocombe (credit: Randy Yagi)

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

Like Bi-Rite, Humphry Slocombe is a local favorite in the Mission District. With more than 80 flavors of ice cream, sorbets and sherbets, it has one of the most extensive menus in the Bay Area. It’s just not the locals who have raved about delicious flavors such as Secret Breakfast, Harvey Milk and Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee from this shop at the corner of 24th and Harrison Streets. Humphry Slocombe has been praised from a number of leading national publications, including Bon Appétit, The New York Times and Gourmet. Also using dairy products from Straus Family Creamery, the Tin Roof Sundae and Gabba Gabba are among top choices for sundaes. Earlier this year, Humphry Slocombe opened a new location at the Ferry Building and, not surprisingly, is drawing long lines of ice cream lovers.

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

Like any of San Francisco’s best places for an ice cream sundae, the lines at the Ice Cream Bar can be quite long. But this distinctive spot is well worth the wait and not just because it dishes out fabulous sundaes. Featuring an authentic 1930s soda fountain, retro lunch counter and a staff dressed like classic soda jerks, customers can enjoy tasty ice cream treats as well as enjoy the nostalgic atmosphere. Using locally sourced ingredients, the Cole Valley business makes its own ice cream and sodas in house. In addition to serving luscious sundaes like Keller’s Farm and Tropical Sundae, Ice Cream Bar offers a lunch menu, beer, wine and fountain sodas, some containing alcohol. In business since 2012, Ice Cream Bar has been featured in a number of national publications, such as The Wall Street Journal, Vogue, Bon Appétit, The New York Times and GQ Magazine.

Mitchell’s Ice Cream
688 San Jose Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 648-2300

Another ice cream shop getting plenty of national attention is Mitchell’s in Bernal Heights. In business for more than 60 years, the family-owned shop features more than 70 ice cream and sorbet flavors and a nice assortment of yummy sundaes. Featuring premium ice cream made with 16 percent butterfat, Mitchell’s offers a Sundae of the Month, in addition to choices like Oreo Cookie Explosion, Caramel Pecan and Peanut Butter Blitz, topped with a generous helping of whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. Mitchell’s Ice Cream is located at the intersection of San Jose Avenue and 29th Street, two blocks from Guerrero Park.

432 Octavia St., Suite 1A
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 863-1518

Utilizing cutting-edge technology, Smitten claims to make the “purest, creamiest ice cream.” And as evidenced by long lines, repeat customers, new locations and rave reviews on taste, that claim appears to be backed up. Ice cream at Smitten is made with a patented “Brrr” churning machine that uses liquid nitrogen to create smaller ice crystals, which translates into a smoother and tastier ice cream. Striving for perfection in ice cream making, Smitten also uses locally sourced ingredients of the highest quality. Favorite sundaes include Hot Stuff, Brittle Me This and Choc Full O’Mint. The original location can be found near the intersection of Hayes and Octavia Streets, three blocks west of Van Ness Avenue.

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on