Andrea M. Gómez
Trend 1: Upscale trucks
No freezer-burned Push-Up pops here. Ice cream trucks go upscale.
NEXT: Crazy flavors and seriously good soft-serve
Trend 2: Crazy flavors
The wackier the flavors, the better.
Trend 3: Soft-serve
Soft-serve is back—and tastier than ever.
The line for Bi-Rite Creamery’s small-batch scoops literally snakes around the block. But take our advice and keep walking past it—where (at least until word spreads) you can step right up to the San Francisco parlor’s new soft-serve window.
That’s right, the classic summer twist is back—and, made with dairy from local Straus Family Creamery, it’s way better than you remember it. Two flavors change daily (Balsamic Strawberry and Malted Vanilla among them), but cross your fingers for Salted Caramel: As the sole guy ahead of me said to the sidewalk, “It’s damn good, people!” –R.L.
NEXT: Farm-fresh treats and retro classics
Trend 4: Market stands
Frozen treats pop up between the produce at farmers’ markets.
The scoop: Inspired by juicy Mexican paletas, these zingy blends of fresh fruit juices, herbs, agave, and cane juice kick those mass-produced orange/grape/cherry popsicles to the curb. The ’70s-era tricycle cart sets up at five seasonal farmers’ markets, but a new brick-and-mortar shop opened in May—which means these ice-cold popsicles will be available year-round.
Lick we love: Cucumber Lime Jalapeño. –Lucy Burningham
The scoop: Four-star chef Holly Smith devotes the same attention to gelato and sorbet as she does to her handmade pastas. At her renowned Cafe Juanita, a $30,000 imported machine helps produce fancy desserts for the restaurant like bittersweet torta with Maple Blossom gelato and cherry vinegar sauce—as well as the scoops she sells at farmers’ markets from her portable Poco Carretto cart: Cinnamon, Gingered Apricot, Fennel, and a crème brûlée-like combo of Egg Crema and Burnt Sugar.
Lick we love: The subtly nutty Toasted Rice. –R.D.
Trend 5: Retro treats
Nostalgia-inducing sweets get a makeover
Fudgsicle: Owners of the new Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous (aka Ian Flores and wife Annabelle Topacio) spent a year perfecting their fudgsicle recipe: a silky slab made with Valrhona chocolate and Straus dairy, served stick-less on a biodegradable plate. 699 22nd St., 415/970-0750. –R.L.
Root beer float: It’s bubbly and creamy. And the longer you sip, the more the two become one. Ici’s float is a serious cut above A&W, with scoops of housemade vanilla dunked in a Louisiana root beer sweetened with cane sugar. 510/665-6054. –Lisa Trottier
Ice cream sandwich: Try this: malted chocolate ice cream smushed between two just-baked vanilla cookies, from the just-opened Sweet Rose Creamery. 310/260-2663. –Elizabeth Jenkins
Snow cone: Locali uses reverse osmosis–filtered water and organic brown-rice syrups in flavors like BubbleGum, Cola, and Mango. Chocolate-covered frozen bananas and vegan popsicles too, from Icycle, the shop’s roaming tricycle. 323/466-1360. –E.J.
Balboa bar: The 1940s favorite gets an upgrade at the new BoardWalk Ice Cream Co. Choose milk or dark chocolate and as many of the 15 toppings as you want, rolled on the spot. Irvine Spectrum Center; 949/453-0414. –Chantal Lamers