San Diego’s Best Ice Cream

In honor of National Ice Cream Day on July 15, we have compiled a list of our favorite ice cream shops in and around San Diego.  Spoiler: Two of them are gelato.

1. An’s Dry Cleaning

If you’re confused by the name of our top pick don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  When the team behind this gelato gem finally found the perfect location for their shop they chose a radical way to honor the dry cleaning business that had occupied the space for so many years before them: by keeping its name.  The storefront is almost unchanged and the interior still looks like a traditional dry cleaners, complete with a rack of shirts on hangers and tables shaped like ironing boards.  The gelato chef, who has over 12 years of experience making gelato from scratch, names each flavor after a type of fabric.  The termeh (saffron, vanilla, pistachio) and tute (cucumber, lime, mint) are out of this world.

See more pictures here: Eater San Diego

Website: An’s Dry Cleaning

2. Salt & Straw

Founded in Portland in 2011 by two cousins who were passionate about ice cream, Salt & Straw has expanded to Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and (hooray!) San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood.  Salt & Straw was founded on a model of making delicious, creative ice cream flavors with local ingredients.  They are currently offering a flavor co-created with San Diego chef Brian Malarkey: Roasted Beets & Humboldt Fog.  Additional flavors now on offer include Duck Crackling with Cherry Preserves, Tokyo PB&J, and Avocado & Oaxacan Chocolate Fudge.  More traditional flavors are available for the less adventurous ice cream seeker.

Website: Salt & Straw

3. Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream

From the size of the line that regularly forms outside Handel’s on Highway 101 in Encinitas you may think this shop is a one of the kind.  Not by a long shot; in fact, it is one of 40 locations around the country!  Starting with the homemade ice cream Alice Handel started selling out of her husband’s Ohio gas station in 1945, today all of Handel’s ice cream is still made onsite everyday, one batch at a time.

Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream

4. Mariposa Homemade Ice Cream

A staple of Normal Heights since 2000, Mariposa offers customers “no gimmicks, no need for expensive mix-ins, just good old-fashioned ice cream, served by the people who make it.”  When you walk into the tiny shop on Adams Avenue you see photos of the celebrities who visit this little gem, people like Kristen Bell and Will Ferrell, but there’s nothing pretentious about the store itself or its proprietors.  Mariposa celebrated its 18th anniversary on June 24, two years after the death of its cofounder, Dick.  Today, his wife Anna carries on the tradition of making ice cream the way Dick’s grandfather (a 3rd generation Dutch dairy farmer) taught him.

Mariposa Homemade Ice Cream

5. Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream

What Hammond’s understands is that when you want two, three or 12 flavors, full sized scoops can be too much.  So they came up with a simple but brilliant solution: flights!  Now when you want birthday cake, ginger cream, honey lavender, orange dreamsicle AND salted caramel you can have them all without maxing out your waistband.  And for those days when you and your friends are feeling particularly adventurous (or foolhardy), there is the awe-inspiring flight of 32.

Website: Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream

6. Pappalecco

With the opening of their first location in Little Italy in 2007, the Italian-raised brothers behind Pappalecco founded a San Diego favorite.  Years before, friends living in the United States told them they could make a killing in the U.S. selling their homemade pistachio gelato.  Today, dozens of flavors are created in their commercial kitchen in Point Loma and sent to the four Pappalecco locations in San Diego county.  Focusing on simple, delicious flavors, Pappalecco’s gelato can also be found on the dessert menus of some of the city’s best restaurants.

Website: Pappalecco


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