Fentons, Loard’s and Tucker’s are the esteemed trifecta of traditional ice cream parlors in the East Bay. But if you’re looking to branch out from these beloved institutions, check out this list of newer ice cream spots that draw upon organic, seasonal and sustainable ingredients. And let us know where you go to satisfy your sweet tooth in the comments.
If you’re lucky, you’ll arrive before a long line has formed in front of Ici that snakes down the sidewalk to the next block. But it’s definitely worth the wait, and servers usually bring samples to patient patrons to enjoy while they’re biding their time. Locals and tourists alike flock to this popular Elmwood spot for Mary Canales’ delightful confections. Choose from the rotating menu of ice creams, sherbets and sorbets posted on the blackboard menu hanging from their storefront tree. One of the Chez Panisse alum’s ingenious creations is the chocolate-tipped cones that are perfect for preventing ice cream from leaking out the bottom. They also prepare their own housemade sauces — bittersweet hot fudge, dark caramel and dulce de leche — in case you want to kick up your sugar intake a notch. Single scoops start at $3.90.
Exotic flavors abound at Tara Esperanza’s ice cream shops in Temescal, Berkeley and Pleasanton. Perhaps you want to try lucuma, baobab or pandan? Maybe sprinkle some Himalayan pink salt on top, drizzle it with olive oil and scoop it into a sesame cone? You can also get a gluten-free option with their Mariposa Baking Company brownie sandwiches ($5.75). Check out their daily offerings online. Baby cups (1 flavor) are $2; add on 75 cents for a cone.
Tucked away in the Epicurious Garden, a foodie marketplace in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto, Lush Gelato specializes in Italian-style ice cream and sorbets. Denser, creamier and with a lower butterfat, gelato has a richer feel than its American cousin. Lush’s small batch artisans obtain key ingredients from local purveyors to produce a range of Northern California-inspired flavors, such as Cowgirl Creamery Fromage Blanc, Black & Tan (made with Linden St. Brewery Black Lager, waffle cones and dulce de leche) and McEvoy Ranch olive oil. Their second location is just down the street from Fenton’s on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. Single 3-oz. scoops start at $2.99, with cones made fresh daily.
While Albany’s Iscream doesn’t veer off into experimental directions with flavors — they have a fairly standard selection in their case — it’s all wonderfully creamy and delicious. Their plate glass window proclaims that all of their ice cream and sorbets are homemade, seasonal and organic. And, they offer sundaes, fountain drinks and hot drinks, too. Single scoops start at $2.50.
Sketch Ice Cream
2080 4th St. (at Addison St.) [map]
Ph: (510) 984-0294
Hours: Tue-Fri 11:30 am – 6 pm, Wed-Fri 8 am – 10:30 am, Sat 11 am – 6 pm, Sun 12 pm – 5 pm
Sketch Ice Cream’s a perfect retreat from the busy shopping hub of Berkeley’s 4th Street (where they were formerly located, now home to Chocolatier Blue.) Their soft-serve ice cream (made with Straus organic milk), pastries, candies and more are all made daily on the premises by its ex-pastry chef owners, the husband-and-wife team Eric and Ruthie Planas-Shelton. They also offer ice cream cakes, popsicles and $3 pre-packed cups of ice cream or sorbet called “3 Buck Pucks” (named after the cheap $2 wine sold at Trader Joe’s). If you’re in the mood for something savory, try their buttery, savory empanadas ($3-$3.50/each) or chicken sandwich ($6.95) with a cup of Sightglass drip coffee ($2.75.) Small cups of ice cream start at $3.50.