The 24 Scoops to Try

It’s open season for ice cream.

Vanilla may be the most popular ice cream flavor nationwide. But at these standout places, try dipping your spoon into the not-so-vanilla house specials.

The Bay Area

The star attraction of San Francisco’s Bi-Rite Creamery is salted caramel. Also outstanding is ricanelas, cinnamon with snickerdoodle cookie pieces.


Photo: Jennifer Yin via Flickr Commons

The owners of Frozen Kuhsterd tap into their various ethnic backgrounds to invent original flavors: Thai tea, black sesame, or spiked cereal milk. They roll through San Francisco streets in a truck.


Escape to the golden era of the soda jerk. The Ice Cream Bar in San Francisco dispenses malts, phosphates, and floats. Our favorite flavor is the basil.

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Photo: The Ice Cream Bar

Industrial-strength chocolate at Rick’s in Palo Alto is all it should be: chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips, fudge, and chocolate-chip cookie pieces.

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Kitschy Treatbot in Silicon Valley wins followers with ice creams like East Side horchata, rice milk with cinnamon, and 408, caramel with fudge and Oreo cookies.


Penny Ice Creamery in Santa Cruz scoops farm-fresh flavors like peaches and cream and green tea plum.


Orange County

To complete that whole Italian Riviera vibe of Laguna Beach, pair afternoons with a scoop of strawberries and cream from Gelato Paradiso.


No regrets, please, when eating the milky bun. Scoops of ice cream, such as cookie butter or jasmine milk tea, are stuffed into freshly baked doughnuts. More than one million have been sold at Afters Ice Cream, the Fountain Valley place where this treat invented.

Washington, D.C.

The popsicles at Pleasant Pops are inspired by Mexican paletas. Try the chongos, sweet cream and cinnamon, or opt for the fruit-centric bars, like watermelon mint.


At D.C.’s Pitango Gelato, expect old-school Italian flavors like crema, bacio, and stracciatella. Ingredients are impeccably sourced: The pistachio is made with an Italian variety that grows on the slopes of Mt. Etna.


Did someone say whisky pop? Black Dog did and it dunks the spiked milky gelato into chocolate and salty bacon bits. Goat cheese cashew caramel, blueberry French toast, and sesame fig chocolate chip are other temptations.


Photos: Black Dog


Scooter’s, three blocks from Black Dog’s Roscoe Village location, is the master of the “concrete”… creamy custard with mix-ins. The Elvis features Reese’s peanut butter cups and bananas mixed into vanilla custard.