One of my favorite things to do is go to Ghirardelli Square for ice cream.

I’m sure most of the locals just blanched at that sentence. The food snobs are horrified that I’d be common enough to let such “plebeian” ice cream pass my lips, and the regular snobs can’t see hobnobbing with the tourists.

Before I moved down the street, I would have agreed with you. Smelly sea lions, tee shirt shops, and overstuffed tourists whose matching fleeces advertise their ignorance of San Francisco weather? Blech. I’ve never had much heart for the Wharf, and though I’m a chocoholic, Ghirardelli’s middle-of-the-road milk chocolates don’t do it for me.

But then we found an apartment that’s so close to the Square that the smell of freshly made ice cream cones practically wakes me up in the morning. Add to that my boyfriend’s obsession with ice cream, and we were bound to become regulars.

Instead of being dragged kicking and screaming, though, I’ve found that I adore having an ice cream at Ghirardelli Square. Nevermind that it’s Dreyer’s (the truck pulls up every morning, regular as rain). Everyone is happy on vacation, and so the place is just brimming with smiles and laughter and good vibrations. People are thrilled to death at the thought of stuffing a gigondo ice cream sundae in their bellies, and no one minds the wait.

As it happens, they also serve some of the best chocolate chip ice cream around. The secret is the size of the chip; if it’s too big, the chip stays cold and it’s difficult to taste the chocolate. But these chips are teeny-tiny flecks that melt in your mouth, imbuing the ice cream around it (mint, vanilla, or espresso) with chocolatey goodness.

If you live in the city, you owe it to yourself to head to the Square one evening soon. It’ll put a smile on your face, guaranteed. Who says Fisherman’s Wharf is just for tourists?

Ghirardelli Square: A Love Story 18 October,2007Catherine Nash

  • meso

    haagen dazs used to make a chocolate ice cream like this. chocolate mint chip. no, not mint chocolate chip, chocolate mint chip. the chocolate ice cream had a hint of mint in it, and as you said, perfectly sized flecks of chocolate chips. not really chips at all, but little melty flecks of wonderfulness. when i was 12, it was a regular citizen of ice cream city at my local haagen dazs in nyc, but by the time i was 16, it had become a bi-weekly guest. one day, they told me they were “no longer receiving this flavor”. i hunted around the city until i found a location in the west village that “got it in” on tuesdays. i’d buy it up in pints, fearful the day would come when it would disappear completely. alas, that day has come and gone. i’ll never understand it. glad to know someone else resurrected such a good idea.

  • Catherine, I so agree with you! I started working my day job, and found my boss loved to venture over for an ice-cream, and now it’s a ritual that I don’t mind. I happen to like the happy tourist too. 🙂


Catherine Nash

I grew up in the South where it was common for a meal to include more platters of food than people. I survived on a childhood of sausage biscuits, fried chicken, fried clams, ham rolls, shrimp cocktail, pickled peaches, homemade ice cream, and lemon tarts, and I thought that getting your tomatoes from a paper bag your neighbor left on the doorstep or knowing the name of your favorite corn was normal (Silver Queen was mine). Now I’m a San Francisco-based freelance food writer who’s been published in Olive magazine, Best Food Writing, the Oakland Tribune, The Onion, Northside San Francisco and other local publications. As most of my attempts to reproduce childhood favorites in my own kitchen have ended in crushing disappointment, I eat out four to five times a week and cook healthy meals when I’m at home.

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