Travel Eats: I Scream for Ice Cream in San Francisco

Over the next week or so I will drop a little West Coast knowledge on all of you peeps. Having just gotten back from a wee trip to Napa Valley and San Francisco, I’m excited to share a little of the spoils of war travel. I highly recommend the Bay Area for a June vacation, because the trip west was accompanied by a 40 degree drop in temperature, delicious food, and a lot of fun activities. I’m not moving out there, but it certainly was a nice place to spend a couple of my saved up nickels.

Yadda, yadda, yadda, enough of Eat Local goes San Fran Chamber of Commerce. Let’s get started with ice cream.

Scream I – Rite You Are

Fresh off the plane (or planes, after driving to Little Rock, more on that later, we flew to Dallas and then to SFO), we zipped down to the Mission for a look around and a couple of taste tests. As our bodies were still thinking about the Memphis temps of 100 and above, a little ice cream sounded like a great treat on a nice 65 degree day.

We got the recommendation to head to the Bi-Rite Creamery from Donna, the owner of a cool little shop Pot + Pantry. So we headed down the road for a little snack. It was easy to see where we were going, because there was a line of about 20 people or so waiting to get into the door.

Side note – People in San Francisco like waiting in line. I’m positive of this. I saw a line outside the downtown San Fran Goodwill on Sunday morning. No one in any of the lines for food ever grumbled. Waiting in line is as cool as fixed-gear bicycles and mustaches, I’m tellin’ you. – End Side note.

Here’s what we got:

On the left is a nice strawberry and balsamic. On the right is a salted caramel sitting on top of a scoop of roasted banana. These were insane-good. The caramel was the best caramel ice cream I have ever tasted (those who know my obsession with Jeni’s in Columbus know that is hard to say). The caramel was an incredible combination with the banana. Basically, Bi-Rite Creamery knows that they are doing, and you can really tell that they use excellent base ingredients to get these amazing flavors. They exclusively use milk and cream from the Straus Family Creamery organic dairy, which interestingly enough was the first organic dairy west of the Mississippi River.

Here’s the deal. You go to San Francisco, you go to this place. Easy as pie two scoops on a waffle cone.

Scream II – Humphrey is my Homeboy

Our next trip for ice cream came from a double recommendation (raising the stakes!) from Donna at Pot + Pantry and Memphis’ own Stacey G, who knows a little bit about food, blogging, and food blogging herself. This trip took us over to Humphry Slocombe, which was in a neighborhood a little East of the Mission (may still be considered the Mission, not sure).

This little shop had a lot going on in terms of cool flavors, but we couldn’t resist the chocolate smoked sea salt. Who could? This was an excellent combination of sweet and salty, which is really where it is at in my book.

For our other little taste, we had to take into account the culinary status of the area. Everywhere we went during the trip, a main topic was the upcoming ban on foie gras, which started on July 1. As a server at one restaurant said, “the quickest way to make something popular is to ban it.” Since Humphry Slocomb is/was/used to be famous for the foie gras ice cream, there wasn’t really a choice, we had to get this:

This, my friends, is foie gras ice cream packed in between two ginger snaps. Somewhere, some ice cream wizard is saying “ice cream for ice cream’s sake.” But, this wasn’t just a case of making something because they could, it was a case of making something that was good. I’ll admit, this probably would have been good with any flavor in the middle!

Scream III – Nitro

Lastly, we ran int…wait. I have to be honest. I found this last ice cream place in the most hipsterish of ways.

K and I were out getting Sushi at an awesome place Sebo, to be blogged about later. As we were walking around the neighborhood towards our car, I saw a big mural on the side of a building.

I had just seen this mural on one of my friend’s Instagram feed. Thus I had to go check it out.

Instagramed by P. Smith

Thus I found Smitten Ice Cream. Here’s the deal with Smitten. They take about 5 or 6 ingredients and mix them up. When you order your ice cream, the put those ingredients into their custom made machines. These machines then mix it all up while freezing it at below -300 degrees. This one-time, superfreeze leaves us happy with an ice cream that is super smooth and free of ice crystals.

No, I did not just make that up.

K and I ordered up a little scoop of caramel each. This happened.

It was smooth. It was creamy. It was delicious. Here’s to science.

Here’s to Smitten.

Scream IV – Tired of Screamin. Not Tired of Ice Creamin.

I had ice cream from three places in San Francisco while there, and all of it was the heat, you know what I mean. It was awesome. For a place that never gets hot, I’m pretty impressed by their passion for ice cream. So, when you head out West, take a moment to chill (see what I did there????), and cool off (AGAIN!!!) with some of the best ice creams that I’ve ever been around. Maybe, if it is June and 105 in Memphis, just maybe, I’ll see you there!


You want to go to there (all of them):

Bi-Rite Creamery
3692 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94110

Bi-Rite Creamery and Bake Shop on Urbanspoon


Humphry Slocombe
2790 Harrison Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

Humphry Slocombe on Urbanspoon


Smitten Ice Cream
432 Octavia Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

Smitten Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

3 thoughts on “Travel Eats: I Scream for Ice Cream in San Francisco”

  1. Yay!!!! As an aside, we chose San Francisco for our vacation because I was slated to attend the Small Giants Community summit of awesomeness. It’s a group of like-minded business-owners who believe in values-driven business.
    Bi-Rite grocery/creamery was one of my fellow attendees! They were awesome people and I really enjoyed getting to spend some quality seminar-session time with these folks!!!
    xoxo, kat (muddy’s)

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