Bi-Rite Creamery (San Francisco, CA)

While my trip to Humphrey Slocombe left me a little bit disappointed, that wasn’t the last of my San Francisco ice cream forays. While doing the March, our route took us through the north end of the Mission, we headed over to Dolores Park and Bi-Rite Creamery for another snack.

This was my first trip to Bi-Rite Creamery, but I’d been to their parent store (Bi-Rite Market, just down the street) several times to indulge in various delicacies, like a few slices of some good Iberian jamon. And I’d always known that Bi-Rite’s ice cream stand was well-regarded, but both times I had previously thought of stopping there, the lines were long and scared me away.

Well, this time they weren’t much better, snaking out the door, down the street, and starting to wrap around the corner. But we’d been walking a fair bit since the Ferry Building, so we decided that waiting was worthwhile. I’m glad we decided to stop, since one of the first things that was apparent about Bi-Rite was that the counter staff is efficient, they were moving people through the line about 3 times as fast as most ice cream places I’ve been, so after a mere 10 minutes in line I found myself at the counter, ready to order.

Well, Bi-Rite is known for two things: interesting ice cream flavors (although nothing like Humphrey Slocombe; salted caramel is about as risque as Bi-Rite had when we visited), and good quality ice cream. After having several internal debates about which flavors to try, I ended up settling on a mix of malted vanilla and almond fudge swirl.

Both of these were perfectly done. The malted vanilla was smooth, creamy, and had strong vanilla and malt notes, but balanced nicely so that neither overpowered the other. The almond fudge swirl was pretty much your standard fudge swirl, albeit nicely executed, with a nice creamy body, just enough almond chunks to give it some good texture, and a deep, rich fudge swirl. Overall, this was ice cream that just worked.

And that’s why I ended up really happy with Bi-Rite. While nothing earth-shaking (great ice cream, but it still doesn’t outdo Izzy’s in St Paul, or Tosci’s in Cambridge, to name two of my favorites), Bi-Rite obviously never lost sight of the overall concept of ice cream. They make ice cream first.

The interesting flavors come after that. I’ll definitely drop by another time, now that I know the line isn’t half as bad as it looks.

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