With year-round ice cream eating weather, San Diego is home to a plethora of innovative shops serving up frozen treats. Whether you prefer your ice cream rolled, in a sandwich, or served traditionally, these eight places will satisfy your cravings.
In an effort to solve the eternal dilemma of which ice cream flavor to choose, Hammond’s created a crafty solution: ice cream flights. Served in mini cones (waffle or cake), flights range in size from two to six cones. For big groups (or the exceptionally hungry), there is a flight of 32, which comes with every single flavor on the menu that day. Hammond’s imports handmade Hawaiian ice cream and sorbet, offering flavors such as Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut and Peanut Butter & Guava Jelly. They have over 300 different flavors in rotation, so there’s always something new to try. Following the success of their North Park location, Hammond’s opened stores in Point Loma and Pacific Beach as well.
Located in Encinitas, the mother-daughter team behind JoJo’s Creamery makes all their ice cream, waffle cones, and sauces from scratch. Their menu includes year-round staples, like Mint Cookies N’ Cream and Cayenne Sea Salt Caramel, as well as seasonal flavors. They also offer gluten-free waffle cones and a selection of vegan ice cream options. As an added treat, every order comes with a chocolate chip cookie made from their family recipe.
The Portland-based ice cream company opened its first San Diego spot in Little Italy earlier this year. Known for their unique flavors made from local ingredients, Salt & Straw’s innovative San Diego menu includes flavors like Avocado & Oaxacan Chocolate Fudge and Peanut Butter Stout with Chocolate Chicarrón, which is made using local brewer Belching Beaver’s stout. Every month, five seasonal flavors are featured— past offerings have included a nacho-inspired option dreamed up by a local elementary school student, and a roasted beet and goat cheese flavor co-created with San Diego chef Brian Malarkey. Salt & Straw classics, like Honey Lavender, Chocolate Gooey Brownie and Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons are available year-round. There is also a rotating roster of vegan ice creams.
The Baked Bear specializes in customizable ice cream sandwiches. Customers can choose between freshly baked cookies, brownies, and donuts as the base. For the indecisive, there is also the option to mix and match the top and bottom. After the sandwich is assembled, it is then rolled through toppings, ranging from brownie bits to mini M&Ms. Finally, customers can opt to have their sandwich hot-pressed for that ideal warm-on-the-outside, cool-on-the-inside balance. The original Baked Bear in Pacific Beach was so popular that the ice cream sandwich shop has since expanded to nine other states across the country.
The midwest chain opened its first San Diego shop in Encinitas a few years back, and ever since, a steady line of customers has stretched down the block. The store makes its own small batches of ice cream on-site daily. There are about 50 different flavors on the menu each day, with new varieties constantly rotating through. Handel’s is also known for giant portions — a single serving comes piled high with three scoops.
The Insta-famous Orange County ice cream shop made its San Diego debut in June. Cauldron’s homemade ice cream is frozen using liquid nitrogen, and creative flavors (ie: earl grey lavender and milk & cereal) are rotated through the menu monthly for variety. Shaped like a rose, the ice cream comes wrapped in a puffle – a puffy waffle cone modeled on Hong Kong-style egg waffles.
ICMonster specializes in rolled ice cream, a popular Thai street food where the ice cream mixture is frozen on a cold metal plate, mixed with toppings and scraped into a roll. The rolled ice cream comes served in a cup or egg waffle. ICMonster offers both Asian and American inspired flavors. Matcha Heaven, for example, is made with matcha and lychee ice cream and topped with red beans, lychee, chocolate sauce and a panda cookie. Cookie Monster, meanwhile, has an oreo ice cream base and is topped with coco pebbles, cookie crisp, and chocolate sauce.
The creators behind An’s Dry Cleaning transformed a former dry cleaners into a gelato shop, but decided to keep the original name and aesthetic as a nod to the previous tenant. In addition to the dry cleaning decor, the gelato flavors are named after and inspired by fabrics. Chiffon is a mix of strawberry and ginger, while silk combines almond and sage. The gelato is all made from scratch using local ingredients, and there is a constant cycle of new flavors that rotate through.