Pumpkin pie ice cream, from beginning to end, at Three Twins Ice Cream
Pumpkin pie ice cream, from beginning to end, at Three Twins Ice Cream

No one eats more ice cream than I do. I know, it’s a bold statement–one that some may want to challenge. But I’m pretty confident that it’s true. I generally hide the fact from friends until they really get to know me. My family all expects that pints disappear quickly–they hide them amongst the bags of frozen broccoli and peas in the freezer. And one of my favorite parts about going to school in Boston was that it could be 20 degrees and snowing and there’d be a big line for J.P. Licks wrapping around the corner on Newbury St. Those were my kinda’ folks.

Thankfully, San Francisco doesn’t disappoint either. When I first moved to the Bay Area, I really tried to fight my passion/addiction with a variety of sugar-busting cleanses and tonics. But I’ve given in. And lately in a few of my favorite scoop shops, I’ve noticed some seasonal flavors that I can’t stop talking about. Fall has definitely arrived and there’s no time like the present to get yourself a cone before the season–and these flavors–pass us all by.

Three Twins: How can you not love a local organic ice cream shop that was opened by young native, Neil Gottlieb after deciding to ditch business school and just get moving? Named after their living situation at the time (he lived with his twin brother and his wife), Neil set about to open a sustainable, green business. And it’s sustaining me, that’s for sure. While pumpkin is not an unusual flavor this time of year, their pumpkin pie ice cream is truly extraordinary. They use real pumpkin that they roast, skin, puree, and infuse directly into the ice cream along with a healthy dose of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. I’ve had many a pumpkin ice cream cone, but never one with ribbons of real, vibrant pumpkin throughout.

pumpkin cone
Check out the real pieces of pumpkin!

Three Twins Ice Cream
254 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 487-8946
Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 12pm-10pm
Fri.-Sat. 11am-11pm; Sun. 11am-10pm

Bi-Rite Creamery: Salted caramel fans, rejoice! You will fall in love with the brown sugar ice cream with ginger crumble swirl. It has that super soft, creamy consistency you’re used to, but with flecks of ginger bits and rich, perfect caramel–it’s quite something. I’ve been known to get a cone with a scoop of that and a scoop of their seasonal apple pie, a denser ice cream with streams of cinnamony crust and spiced chunks of apple.

Bi-Rites brown sugar ice cream with ginger crumble swirl
Bi-Rite’s brown sugar ice cream with ginger crumble swirl

Bi-Rite Creamery
3692 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 626-5600
Hours: Sun.-Thurs. 11am-10pm
Fri.-Sat. 11am-11pm

Ciao Bella Gelato: While I usually prefer hitting up some of the local shops, Ciao Bella has a luscious cinnamon gelato that you really should try. It is literally bursting with warm, autumnal flavors. The gals at the Marin shop told me that people either love or hate this ice cream largely because there is so much cinnamon in it. I fall into the love category–although a little goes a long way. I’ve heard rumors that they’re doing a lovely fig balsamic gelato although the past few times I’ve gone to do some first-hand research, they’ve been sold out.

Ciao Bella Cinnamon Gelato
Ciao Bella’s Cinnamon Gelato

Ciao Bella
One Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 834-9330
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11am-6pm
Sat. 11am-6pm; Sun. 11am-5pm

Humphry Slocombe: Masters of innovative and seasonal flavors, these guys have created something magical in their Guinness Gingerbread ice cream. This one does sell out quickly–folks call, email, and tweet about its whereabouts–so you may want to check that they’ve got a bit before heading over. What I appreciate about this ice cream is its subtlety. Owner and ice cream magician, Jake Godby, doesn’t hit you over the head with a strong ginger flavor nor does it have that occasional yeasty aftertaste that other Guinness ice creams have. Instead, it has that super creamy texture that folks have come to love at Humphry Slocombe and a quick hint of stout flavor along with bits of warmly spiced gingerbread. After a few licks, you’ll remember that Jake used to be a pastry chef and a baker before he got into the ice cream world. It’s obvious here.

Humphry Slocombe Guinness Gingerbread
Humphry Slocombe’s Guinness Gingerbread

Humphry Slocombe
2790 Harrison Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 550-6971
Hours: Everyday 12pm-9pm

Fall’s Ice Cream Round Up 6 November,2009Megan Gordon

  • Lauren

    Thanks for the suggestions for good ice cream places. I’m a Boston native living in Oakland, however, I’m continually disappointed that the ice cream places out here don’t match up to JP Licks or Herrells. I’ll be polite and not list the many places out here that I find sub-par. But, I haven’t yet tried Three Twins or Humphry Solcombe, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  • Hi Lauren! Three Twins is great. If you’re a chocolate fan, they do a flavor called Starry Night that you should check out. And Humphry Slocombe makes fabulous ice cream. Try their Secret Breakfast — it’s an odd mix of bourbon and cornflakes, but it’s delicious.

  • Marta

    I used to live in Boston as well, and when I first moved here was bummed. But now there are some amazing choices, including the homemade ice cream made at Eos restaurant in Cole Valley. It’s pricey – $8 a pint – but I SWEAR by their mint chocolate chip ice cream. Their salter caramel, however, does NOT compare with Bi-Rite’s (Eos’ is way too salty).


  • Oooh, local organic icecream. That sounds RIGHT up my alley. I won’t be in the area for another few weeks and suspect I not be there before Christmas-themed flavors are on the menu. Actually, that probably is not such a travesty — I’ll bet Three Twins makes a mean scoop with some iteration of gingerbread or candy canes. (I’m kind of hoping there might still be a pint or two of the pumpkin pie hiding in the back of their freezer, but I know it’s a long shot….) 😛

  • Marta: Thanks so much for the suggestion. I’ve actually never tried the ice cream at Eos, but I’ve got my mind set on it now. Sounds incredible (I love mint chip, too).

  • I love my ice cream. I wish we had more verity in India. but our ‘Fried ice cream’ is not bad.


Megan Gordon

Megan Gordon is originally from Eureka, CA although she’s lived in numerous college towns around the country (another story altogether). A freelance food and travel writer, Megan has written for publications like Ready Made Magazine, The San Francisco Examiner, Edible SF and Edible Marin & Wine Country, Olive Oil Times and The San Francisco Bay Guardian. She writes regularly for Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn and maintains her own local food blog, A Sweet Spoonful. Yes, Megan even tweets @meganjanesf. In addition to writing and photographing food, Megan is the founder (and head baker) of Marge, a Bay Area baking company specializing in classic American pies and nostalgic desserts.

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