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Monday, March 15, 2010

Best Ice Cream Shops in San Francisco

Rice-A-Roni may be the San Francisco treat, but you won’t find people licking cones of it in the City by the Bay. For a sweet treat, go to one of San Francisco’s locally-owned ice cream shops.

Mitchell’s Ice Cream (688 San Jose Avenue): You’ll find plain vanilla at this Noe Valley ice cream institution, around since 1953, but it would be a shame to pass up Mitchell’s unique flavors, like grasshopper pie, Mexican chocolate, tropical fruit, halo halo, Kahlua mocha cream, ube (purple yam), sweet coconut, avocado, and lychee. They specialize in Asian flavors. Prepare to take a number and wait. And wait. The store is small. The line is long. But it’s worth it. It's a bit tricky finding parking near there.

Swensen’s Ice Cream (1999 Hyde Street): This is the original Swensen’s, opened in 1948. There’s no seating at this store (unlike the huge Swensen's where I grew up), but you can try the coffee milkshake or go for toasted almond or classic flavors like mint chip and pecan praline. It isn't far away, near another favorite ice cream shop, Ghirardelli. You can burn a few of those calories off while you walk back.

Bi-Rite Creamery (3619 18th Street): Admittedly this is not the best name for an ice cream shop. But they use Straus Family organic dairy to make their ice cream, mixing the cream with locally-sourced organic fruits and flavorings. Plus, the ice cream is really, really good. Try the roasted banana, orange cardamom, earl gray, ginger, honey lavender, or salted caramel varieties.

Photo by Laughing Squid/Flickr

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