It’s quite possible that we are living in an age of peak ice cream, one where old-school creameries are churning out vanilla bean masterpieces honed over generations while creameries are tossing the term “chef” into the mix to challenge the very notion of what ice cream is. It’s a win-win for everyone, especially when temps outside begin to spike.

This year’s best ice cream shops represent everything from old-school custard outposts and soft-serve emporiums to new-wave artisan creameries, with some generations-old stalwarts still operating at the top of their game. Grab a napkin. It’s gonna get gloriously messy.

Bi-Rite Creamery in San Francisco, California


We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again (and likely again later): If you see someone lining up on 18th Street in the Mission at, say, 2pm on a Wednesday, it’s not a protest against tech. It’s the line for the original Bi-Rite opened across from the market in 2006. Their Straus Family Creamery dairy ice creams are perfection, whether you get them in the original Mission store by Dolores or over in NoPa inside the newer Bi-Rite Market. Either way, it’s worth waiting for. On a weekday morning. Flavor change seasonally. Pray for cream cheese carrot cake, but consider a sundae gussied up with blood orange olive oil. After all, you didn’t stand there for that long just to get vanilla, right?