Illustrations by Margo Rivera-Weiss | Story by Cheryl Angelina Koehler
What’s hot with ice cream this summer?
Well first, let’s talk about what’s eternal, since a key ingredient in any icy summer delight is nostalgia. Here in the East Bay, we tip our cones to vintage businesses like Fentons (est. 1894), Dreyer’s (1928), Loard’s (1950), Tucker’s (1941), and Meadowlark Dairy (c. 1900) for continuing to dish up generations of sweet childhood (and adulthood) memories.
Find these on our map by looking for the crown:
Many more beloved places have come and gone, but most missed at the moment is Ici, which closed abruptly in November 2018. Edible East Bay associate editor Rachel Trachten treasures her memories of their malted vanilla and chocolate chip ice cream sandwich on dark chocolate wafers. Staff artist Margo Rivera-Weiss, creator of this map, recalls wielding the scoop to serve salacious-sounding flavors like Rubyfruit Jungle at Vivoli’s, Berkeley’s legendary lesbian gelateria, which shuttered sometime back in the mid 1980s.
Returning to our original question, “What’s hot?” Two answers from our readers: plant-based frozen delights and a growing diversity of global flavors and styles.
Check out the map to see our four Readers’ Choice shops, which are marked with a .
Our call for votes drew a pack of opinions from Tina Ramos (aka Tina Tamale). Well known and respected around the Oakland food scene, Tina held up her family’s tamale traditions at La Borinqueña Mexi-catessen in Old Oakland for many years, and she continues to boost local food entrepreneurship as she travels locally and throughout the world. She knows food in Oakland like nobody else, and since she doesn’t shy away from sweets, our map couldn’t hold the total of Tina’s many favorite spots. Her picks are marked .
- Almare Gelato Italiano
2170 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley and 349 Main St, Pleasanton. Big thumbs up to the coffee and pistachio flavors.
- .Caravaggio Gelateria Italiana
1797 Shattuck Ave, Unit C, Berkeley and at the downtown Berkeley farmers’ market. Readers like the dark chocolate sorbetto.
- The Cheeseboard Collective
1512 Shattuck Ave Berkeley. Readers come for the buffalo milk soft-serve.
- Cookiebar Creamery
517 E Eighth St, Oakland and 647 Central Ave, Alameda. So many favorites . . . Vietnamese coffee, peanut butter chocolate pretzel, oatmeal cookie, black sesame, ube, cookies n cream . . .
- Curbside Creamery
482 49th St, Oakland (in Temescal Alley) Readers chose plant-based scoops and love the mint chip.
- Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream Parlor & Café
5925 College Ave, Oakland. Faves are mint chocolate chip and the praline.
- Fenton’s Creamery & Restaurant
4226 Piedmont Ave, Oakland. The classic ice cream sundae with the works is always a favorite. Also Swiss Miss chocolate.
- Freezing Point Creamery
349 Seventh St, Oakland. Tina Tamale heads here for red bean ice rolls. “It’s fascinating to watch them mix, freeze, and scrape them from the anti-griddle.”
- Ginger’s Gelato
2238 Oak Grove Rd, Walnut Creek. Readers love sweet cream and chocolate hazelnut flavors.
- Golnazar Gourmet Ice Cream
Made in San Ramon and sold at shops and restaurants around the East Bay. Don’t miss the saffron pistachio!
- Guanatos Ice Cream
2474 Willow Pass Rd, Bay Point and 3330 Main St, Oakley. Faves are cajeta and mexican chocolate on a waffle cone.
- Humphry Slocombe
2948 College Ave, Berkeley (former home of Ici) and 2335 Broadway, Oakland. Our staff love the yuzu cream and malted milk chocolate.
1819 Solano Ave, Berkeley. Readers love meyer lemon and mexican chocolate.
- Loard’s Ice Cream
Original store at 2825 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, newer East Bay locations in Alameda, Alamo, Castro Valley, Concord, Dublin, Livermore, Moraga, East Oakland, Orinda, San Leandro, San Pablo. Tina Ramos says, “Mama loved fresh strawberry, Papa was fresh mango, and I am pralines with creme.”
- The Lumpia Company
Kitchener snack window at 372 24th St, Oakland. Tina steps up for their soft-serve cups. “They have weekly rotating Asian flavors like black sesame, strawberry coconut, and buko pandan, a hard-to-describe fragrant nutty-grassy flavor mixed with coconut. The cups are always topped with crispy puffed rice. Alex Retodo looks to nostalgic flavors of his childhood in creating these sweet lunchtime treats.”
- Lush Gelato
1511 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley and
4184 Piedmont Ave, Oakland. Espresso chocolate chip and mascarpone balsamic chocolate chip are some faves.
- Meadowlark Dairy
57 W Neal St, Pleasanton. Classic soft serve.
- Mr Dewie’s Cashew Creamery
5959 Shellmound St, Emeryville and 1116 Solano Ave, Albany. Readers chose turmeric spice, mocha chip, and chocolate orange.
- Nieves Cinco de Mayo
Fruitvale Public Market, 3340 E 12th St, Oakland. Tina says, “My fave raspado [shaved ice] is a combination of coco y nuez [made from coconut and pecan syrups], but ice cream flavors like rosa [rose petal], elote [corn], and queso [fresh farmers’ cheese] all make my heart flutter. Luis Abundis not only makes the ice cream but the syrups too.”
- Secret Scoop Thai Gelato
1922 MKL Way, Berkeley. Thai kaya (coconut jam) and mango (with passionfruit and chili) have often hit the spot.
5800 College Ave, Oakland.
Chocolate ganache is a big fave.
- Straus Family Creamery Soft Serve
at Benchmark Pizzeria. 1568 Oak View Ave, Albany and 499 Ninth St, Oakland.
- The Sweet Booth
388 Ninth St, Ste 155, Oakland. Tina goes to this boba shop in Chinatown for a “kinda sweet, but yummy” halo-halo sundae, a Filipino concoction made of shaved ice, evaporated milk, sweet beans, and both coconut and ube ice creams. (Ube is a purple yam.)
- Tara’s Organic Ice Cream
3173 College Ave, Berkeley and
4731 Telegraph Ave, Oakland.
Readers love black sesame, rosewater cardamom, and sweet corn.
- Tucker’s Ice Cream
1349 Park St, Alameda.
Fans can’t pass up the Cho Chos.
- UC Dessert
388 Ninth St, Unit 159, Oakland. Tina goes to this Chinatown spot for traditional Chinese and Hong Kong–style treats like the “springy, chewy taro balls with cold mung beans, fresh taro, and coconut sauce over a mound of finely shaved ice. A plus is that it’s not so sweet.”
Send us your picks for upcoming maps!
We want to hear about your Favorite East Bay Noodles (might be pasta, ramen, spätzle, bakmi,
even kelp or veggie noodles; any style of preparation), and your Favorite East Bay Cafes.
Tell us where you go and what items you can never get enough of.
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