Ryan Bluestone

2023’s Top Ice Cream Destinations in San Francisco

Ryan Hunter Bluestone continues his series on the San Francisco food scene with a focus on the city’s finest ice cream spots.

The mild San Francisco climate makes this city a natural destination for the year-round enjoyment of frosty culinary creations. Of course, Ghirardelli is likely to come to mind first, but it is the proverbial “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to options for delicious ice cream experiences.

The San Francisco Ice Cream Roundup

1. Salt & Straw’s name is a nod to the old-fashioned way ice cream used to be made with rock salt around the outside of the container to bring down the temperature, and straw for careful cold packing. Ryan Hunter Bluestone has visited both the Pacific Heights and Hayes Valley locations and whether you select a classic, limited edition, or dairy-free flavor you will find fresh ingredients spun into small delicious batches. Salt & Straw brings real creativity to their frozen concoctions so Ryan recommends trying a handful of their unique flavors before making your final choice. Favorites include Salted Malted Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Pear & Blue Cheese, and Peanut Butter Brittle Caramel Fudge.

2. Uji Time has seven locations in SF, and the Japantown location is a favorite San Francisco stop for mochi. Uji is rather famous for their Taiyaka soft serve, but the Passion Fruit and Raspberry White Chocolate Chips Mochi are at the top of the list. If you happen to be in the habit of documenting your culinary exploits on IG, you’ll find that the vibrant Uji Time creations are as delicious for the eyes as they are for the taste buds!

3. A visit to the Humphry Slocombe’s scoop shop is a Saturday Farmer’s Market tradition for Ryan Bluestone. This brand is headquartered in San Francisco and their gourmet flavors feature locally sourced ingredients. Flavors may be a bit more limited than other spots, but they truly do have something for everyone. Want dairy free? Check! Want vegan? Check! Want savory? Check! Just want an ice cream flavor you’ve never tried before – Champagne & Strawberries. Check!

Ryan Hunter Bluestone

4. Matcha Café Maiko Japantown shop is another of the most frequented ice cream destinations. It isn’t incredibly difficult to find matcha flavored ice cream in SF, but Matcha Café Maiko’s version is truly something special. Try the matcha soft serve in a cup, in a boba sundae, or in a matcha float…in fact the matcha soft serve is outstanding just about any way you choose to indulge.

5. San Francisco boasts multiple Bi-Rite Creamery locations. Each is full of organic, sustainably-sourced frozen treats for every taste, and fans often make the trip specifically for their ice cream sandwiches. Honorable mention goes to the dark chocolate fudge and salted caramel sauces that are pretty much the perfect accompaniment to anything at Bi-Rite -including a plain spoon!

6. As previously mentioned, Ryan is an ice cream sandwich lover, and Over the Moon Cookie and Creamery offers the perfect menu for the adventurous foodie. Pick any one of a handful of fresh-baked, homemade cookie choices and pair it with your favorite Over the Moon ice cream flavor. If you just can’t decide, try another local favorite – two sea salt chocolate chip cookies on either side of a generous scoop of caramel cookie dough ice cream. Yum!

7. It is impossible to talk about the San Fran ice cream scene without mentioning Ghirardelli. The Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop in Ghirardelli Square is an experience for the nose as well as the taste buds and has been a fixture in San Francisco since 1849. Locals are fans of the San Francisco themed sundaes – from the Golden Gate to the Painted Ladies to the Muir Woods each one features incredible ingredients and a little San Francisco nostalgia. This suggestion may seem obvious, but your experience will be anything but ordinary.


San Francisco certainly has a reputation for diverse and delicious food, and the ice cream scene is no exception. Nearly every neighborhood has something memorable to offer – seek out refreshing frozen treats wherever you may be exploring.

By Ryan Bluestone

Ryan Bluestone