We bring you this list of the five essential, must-try, and most San Franciscan ice cream scoops you can find in town.
Humphry Slocombe's Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee
The team of chef Jake Godby and business partner Sean Vahey obviously included this one in their opening-week flavor lineup at the Ferry Building, where Blue Bottle is their new neighbor. It's a rich and winning version of traditional coffee ice cream, not overtly sweet though. It contains sweetened condensed milk like traditional Vietnamese coffee, and it's made with Blue Bottle's Giant Steps blend as well as a touch of chicory. As Godby and Vahey write in the Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book, "There was never any doubt that we would use Blue Bottle for our coffee ice cream. For starters, we needed some street cred while we were getting off the ground, and at that point Blue Bottle was one of the only artisan coffee roasters in San Francisco."
Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous' Magnolia "Old Thunderpussy" Barleywine
Another collaboration with a neighbor, Dogpatch-based Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous are making an ice cream out of the dark, malty, and chocolaty barleywine made by their soon-to-open neighbor, Magnolia Brewery. It's just much more fun to say it, though, when the barleywine is called Old Thunderpussy (which I'd recommend you also seek out and try on its own). Be warned: This one is a limited run and won't be on the menu all the time.
Three Twins' Strawberry Je Ne Sais Quoi
Three Twins recently celebrated the reopening of their Fillmore Street store, which was closed for over two years following a fire in the building above it. They're back and scooping signature flavors like Dad's Cardamom and Lemon Cookie, but for my money and for S.F. foodie cred, I'd point you to their Strawberry Je Ne Sais Quoi -- in which the "je ne sais quoi" is actually a splash of balsamic vinegar.
The award for the richest ice cream in the city (the cream base they use is, in fact, 2% fattier than the Straus base used by Bi-Rite, Humphry Slocombe, and others) goes to 60-year-old Mitchell's, where they do a terrific job with the basics but also have a few unique signature flavors too. My favorite, which gives a nod to the Mexican influence of their Outer Mission digs, is the creamy and satisfying Horchata ice cream, which is scooped year round.
Bi-Rite Creamery's Meyer Lemon
Sure, their keystone flavor is the Salted Caramel. And flavors like Honey Lavender helped cement them as the go-to gourmand ice cream spot -- at least of the northern end of the Mission. But where else are you going to find Meyer Lemon ice cream than in San Francisco's Gourmet Ghetto? It's not too sweet, and it features a hint of that floral-ness that make Meyer lemons so good in everything else.