Ever since Sam Mogannam opened a frozen treat-focused offshoot of his Mission market in 2006, Bi-Rite Creamery has set the standard for Bay Area ice cream emporiums. Shops like Humphry Slocombe feature wilder flavors and draw more Twitter followers, but in San Francisco, I prefer Bi-Rite’s simpler, more focused flavors. On Independence Day weekend, while more than 50 people lined up for Bi-Rite’s classic ice cream, we beat the system, waiting no time at all at their soft serve window and had yet another impressive experience.
Bi-Rite sells two flavors of soft serve per day, and of course we had to combine them. They filled a wafer cone with a creamy swirl of salted caramel and chocolate, which was a great flavor combination, though I wouldn’t have minded stopping by on a Saturday for vanilla and balsamic strawberry, or Friday, which features vanilla and chocolate mint. It was surprisingly hot in San Francisco, and soft serve turned out to be a nice option, since it’s lower in butter fat and higher in air content, so the impact doesn’t last as long, and it still utilizes the same premium Straus dairy products.
We didn’t get any add-ons, though Bi-Rite does offer more than a dozen nuts, sauces and “yummies,” including salted peanuts, toasted coconut flakes, peanut brittle and berry compote.
We also walked away with a fresh peach popsicle ($1.95), ice-based and rife with fresh, sweet fruit. Blueberry and mango were other options. Bi-Rite also lined the window-front shelves with cupcakes, apricot almond crumb cakes, chocolate picnic cakes and cookies. On a subsequent visit, my brown butter cookie with an apricot jam thumbprint was just right, not too crisp, not too soft.
We walked past the long lines at Bi-Rite proper to nearby Dolores Park, where music played and Mission district denizens lined the hillside. It wasn’t quite the Fourth of July, but devouring the soft serve felt like a celebration.
August 12, 2011 at 10:56 PM
Salted caramel – heaven! Great to enjoy it with you.