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, we’ve updated our list of five 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.

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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.

2948 College Ave. [Map]
Berkeley, CA 94705
Ph:(510) 665-6054
Hours: Mon-Thu 12-9:30pm; Fri 12-10pm; Sat-Sun 11am-10pm
Facebook: Ici Ice Cream
Twitter: IciIceCream
Price range: $ (Entrees $10 and under)

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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. Check out their daily offerings online.

Tara’s Organic
4731 Telegraph Ave. [Map]
Oakland, CA 94609
Ph: (510) 923-1567
Hours: Mon-Sun 1-10pm
Facebook: Tara’s Organic Ice Cream
Twitter: @tarasorganic
Price range: $ (Entrees $10 and under)

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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.

Lush Gelato
1511 Shattuck Ave. [Map]
Berkeley, CA 94709
Ph: (510) 666-0644
Hours: Mon-Sat 12-9pm, Sun 12-8pm
Facebook: lushgelato
Twitter: @lushgelato

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Price range: $ (Entrees $10 and under)

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.

1819 Solano Ave. [Map]
Berkeley, CA 94707
Ph: (510) 527-4787
Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 12-9pm, Fri-Sat 12-10pm
Price range: $ (Entrees $10 and under)

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Curbside Creamery scoops traditional and vegan ice cream on housemade cones, cups or tucked within ice cream sandwiches (made with Little Ladybug Bakery cookies). There’s also seasonal sorbets, soft serve and other refreshments served in their sparkling 50’s-style space in Oakland’s Temescal Alley. Owner Tori Wentworth founded her business through a successful Kickstarter campaign and by hawking her treats from her unique ice cream tricycle, which you can still hire for special events or spot at local farmers’ markets.

Curbside Creamery
482 49th St., Oakland, CA [map]
Ph: (206) 819-4849
Hours: Mon-Sun 12-10pm
Facebook: Curbside Creamery
Twitter: @CurbsideCreamery
Price range: $ (Entrees $10 and under)

This post was updated on September 8, 2015. Sketch Ice Cream, which was previously included in the list, is now closed.

  • Tom Walton

    I love your East Bay food focus and would welcome the opportunity to tell you about a variety of venues that I believe you’d find of interest. I’m a good source in this regard because I live in Berkeley and I’ve been dong food/restaurant pr for 30 years. What would be the best email address to use? Thank you for your timne and considration. All the best.

  • Adrian Reynolds

    Ici is sooo overrated…flavors are muted and that line is out of control.

  • Chrissy

    You forgot about Smitten in Rockridge!


Jenny Oh

Jenny is a long-time contributor to Bay Area Bites, KQED's popular food blog. She formerly worked as an Interactive Producer for the Science & Environment unit. Jenny graduated with honors from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Film and Television program and has worked for WNET/PBS, The Learning Channel, Sundance Channel, HBO and the University of California.

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