And now there are 10 ice cream makers in the Mission’s 1.5 square miles

Photo by Ian Williams

Of all the calls, howls and squawks heard in the Mission, never has a breathe been spent complaining of an ice cream shortage. Why should it? There’s a parlor just around the corner

The Mission, in just 1.5 square miles, boasts ten ice cream makers.

“You gotta have your options,” said Melissa Loesgen outside the Mission’s newest addition, Smitten Ice Cream, which opened Thursday at 904 Valencia St.

And indeed there are many.

“I get all my ice cream stores confused,” said Jen Kabbabe who was looking forward to a scoop of salted caramel as she waited in line at Bi-Rite’s Creamery.  “It’s awesome.”

Line outside of Bi-Rite’s Creamery Photo by Ian Williams

Every parlor offers something new. At Smitten, those in line waited for one of the flavors that had been concocted with other local stores.  The gold latte, which according to Indiana Jones belongs in a museum, was made in collaboration with Samovar Tea on 411 Valencia St. Smitten, which opened with a pay-what-you-like option, worked with several local businesses to create unique flavors.

Two of these include “chevre and apricots” from Mission Cheese and “hot chocolate” from Dandelion Chocolate. Proceeds from the opening are going to La Cocina, a program that incubates low income food entrepreneurs.

Although yesterday was the location’s grand opening, it is far from its first appearance on the district’s streets. Eight years ago, Smitten Ice Cream’s founder Robyn Sue Fisher was bringing churn-to-order ice cream to the Mission out of a prototype machine mounted in a red Fly Wheel wagon. It was a massive success, leading to what is now four San Francisco locations along with stores in Oakland, San Jose and Los Altos.

Of the more than 20 seasonal and permanent flavors, “earl grey” is a common highlight. “I dream about that flavor,” said Tyler Adams, who became familiar with Smitten at its Marina location.

If the line is too long at Smitten, and you miss the earl in your waking hours, no problem, you can find him chilling at Bi-Rite on 18th or see his vegan alter ego at Garden Creamery on 20th. His vegan self isn’t quite as smooth but his title compensates for that.

Although the cluster of creameries “seems a little unnecessary,” by Walker Dove’s standards, he still waited in a lengthy queue outside of Bi-Rite. Besides, if there is still a line, are there really enough?

Tartine Manufactory, an off-site expansion of one of San Francisco’s most prominent bakeries, offers the familiar treat with an exotic twist – water buffalo milk.

Aubrie Pick, who opted for “fior de latte” delicately garnished with “cocoa nib tuille,” thought it “not too sweet, has a good texture and great on a sunny day.”

According to Pick, “there’s never too much ice cream.”

A map of all the ice cream makers with some of our earlier coverage.

Related coverage:

In 2011, we served folks on the best flavor at Bi-Rite’s Creamery and Humphry Slocombe

Justino at Bi-Rite’s Creamery, 2012

La Copa Loca, 2012

Perfect (or Not), 2014

San Francisco Ice Cream is About Straus Dairy, 2015

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2 Comments

  1. OK, I now have to check out one or two of these venues and taste their low fat or low calorie offerings after reading this article!

  2. Scarlett Murray

    All those are good, but you forgot to add “Nieves Cinco de Mayo” on 16th and Mission to the list, they are the most underrated ice cream place. They offer flavors no one else has, and also use a special way to make ice cream.
    But of course, this little family place lacks all the $$$ for that hipster “marketing” from which everything nowadays is based on.

    Anyhow, the Mangonada is popular on yelp, but I highly recommend just trying several of their regular ice cream flavors
    ….they compete in flavor with any other hipster location.

    “For more than 25 years, Luis Abundis has been making all-natural, fresh hand-churned ice cream. He takes pride in not only making the best-tasting ice-cream, but also in making ice cream the way it should be made–using natural ingredients straight from the farmers markets.”

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