Sunday, July 20 is National Ice Cream Day! So even if the weather isn't cooperating, bring on the frozen cones with this guide to the tastiest, most unique ice cream in the East Bay.
If you're not feeling the extreme flavors or methods of these relatively new institutions, you can always head to local staples, Fentons and Tucker's. And while some SF-favorites, like Smitten, have expanded their operations across the bridge, our picks are those you can only find in the East Bay.
The brainchild of a Chez Panisse pastry alum, Ici offers 11 different flavors of handmade ice cream, sorbets, and sherbets everyday served in hand rolled, chocolate filled tip, cones - so that your ice cream doesn't melt out the bottom (genius!). The flavors change daily and with the seasons, and you can take home your favorites packed in pints or quarts before they run out. Summer bring with it refreshing favorites like: basil, lemon lime mint sherbet, Meyer-lemon (with candied orange peel), and Irish whiskey. There's also Bon Bons, Ice Cream Sandwiches, Root Beer Floats, Brownie Sundaes, and homemade candies and cookies for sale along with full sized ice cream cakes and Blue Bottle Coffee to wash it all down. Be prepared to stand in line, and pay a pretty penny, but you’ll get to taste as many flavors as you want while you wait. 2948 College Ave., Berkeley
Similar to those snow cones you loved as a kid, but not nearly as bad for you, nothing is more refreshing than an Italian Water Ice on a hot day. Bringing the Philly favorite to Oakland, Flavor Brigade serves non-fat, non-dairy Italian Ice made with fruit and water along with organic ice cream and frozen custard. Overhwelmed by the choices? Oder the 2nd Street - your choice of two Italian Ice Flavors with frozen custard on top – it's summer's perfect treat for only $2.50. 3540 Fruitvale Ave., Oakland
Hidden away at the back at the Epicurious Garden in Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto, Lush makes their delicious gelato and sorbetto from scratch in small batches using organic ingredients from local farms to produce unique flavors like Cowgirl Creamery Fromage Blanc, Black & Tan (made with Linden St. Brewery Black Lager, waffle cones and dulce de leche) and McEvoy Ranch olive oil. Check out their second location down the street from Fenton's on Piedmont for a double-whammy! 4184 Piedmont Ave., Oakland and 1511 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley
Exotic flavors abound at Tara's Organic ice cream shops in Temescal, Berekeley, and Pleasanton. They currently make 155 different gourmet, certified organic ice cream flavors – with sweet ingredients you've never even heard of, like lucuma, baobab, or pandan. Order your scoop drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with Himalayan salt, and packed into a sesame cone for the ultimate package. Want to make all your friends happy at once? Order one of their handmade ice cream cakes (choose two flavors and your crust). They'll even ship their sweet treats anywhere in the US! 3173 College Ave., Berkeley and 4731 Telegraph Ave., Oakland
Two Italian cousins – with backgrounds in physics, materials science, and architecture – just opened this simple and healthy (!) gelato shop in Berkeley. Looks-wise it's straight out of Italy with classic flavors and lidded, stainless steel wells for storage. And while the gelato is definitely the creamy and delicious treat of your dreams – highlighting single-ingredients like pistachios of cashews – the cuginis have also made it guilt-free by using a natural-occurring sweetener called Palatinose, derived from beets, instead of sugar. And did we mention they're lactose-free as well? 1797 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley