Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends
Candy and Ice Cream in San Francisco
210 Grant Avenue between Post and Sutter
The cases at this small shop just off Union Square are filled with delicious home-made truffles, marzipan and other treats. You can also buy hard candies, toffees, rum cordials, chocolate covered raisins, and other goodies for your candy jar.
Candy Jar Outlet
2065 Oakdale Avenue at Industrial
If you're willing to go a little bit out of your way, you can pick up Candy Jar truffles at bargain prices at the Candy Jar factory. Some of the chocolates are slightly flawed, and some are overruns, but they still taste just fine. The door to the outlet is not marked, but go on in; the staff will be happy to help you.
4 Embarcadero Center
This busy shop in the Embarcadero Center will handpack boxes of Neuhaus, Godiva, and their own brand of chocolates. They also sell a variety of packaged chocolates and other candy from Perugina, Lindt, Cafferel, and others.
521 Columbus Avenue
This North Beach shop is filled with bins of hard candy, toffees, chocolate-covered nuts and raisins, a veritable zoo of gummy creatures, and a rainbow of Jelly Belly jelly beans. This is one of the few places in the city where you can find dark chocolate-covered raisins.
3489 16th Street between Church and Sanchez
Chocolatier Joseph Schmidt is probably best known for his truffles, with their distinctive dots of colors on top, but he also deserves mention for his imaginative and unusual chocolate creations, like a chocolate computer or a chocolate telephone. A delicate bowl of dark chocolate swirled with white would make an elegant container for berries or mousse. You can buy Joseph Schmidt chocolates at many stores in the Bay Area, but the best place to see the full range of his creativity is at his shop near Mission Dolores. Prices at the shop are also somewhat lower than at other retail outlets.
Rococoa Faerie Queen Chocolates
415 Castro at Market
Of all the chocolate shops in San Francisco, Rococoa gets the award for the most outrageous decor. The ceiling is draped in pink and white satin, the walls are trimmed in gilt, and (in keeping with the Castro location) there are flying fairies everywhere. Fortunately the owner has good taste in addition to a sense of humor; the shop sells high quality American and European chocolates in addition to homemade fudge. You can also get some unusual molded chocolates, like chocolate genitalia.
Note: the imported European chocolates are excellent but very expensive ($40 a pound and up). At those prices "one of these and two of those" adds up pretty quickly.
See's isn't hip or trendy, but they make excellent chocolates and sell them at reasonable prices. The accommodating staff (most of them grandmotherly) will give you a free sample to munch on while they hand pack a box with your favorite creams, caramels, nuts, nougats, brittles, mints, and truffles. Every Christmas thousands of pounds of See's are shipped to expatriate Californians who miss their hometown confection, but you don't need to wait until Christmas. Enjoy See's now.
542 Market Street
846 Market Street
1519 Polk Street
754 Clement Street
San Francisco International Airport
750 Clement Street at Ninth Avenue
201 Parnassus Avenue at Stanyan
57 Union Street at Stockton
A few years ago it seemed like gelato -- the intensely flavored Italian ice cream -- was everywhere. Now the gelato craze has faded, but Gelato Classico lives on, though with many fewer shops than they used to have They've adapted to current trends by offering frozen yogurt and "gelato light," but the traditional gelato is still the best. There are many good flavors -- fresh ginger, intense chocolate, fresh peach, coffee, and more -- so it's a definite plus that they let you choose several flavors per serving.
900 North Point
The only shop at Ghirardelli Square that has any connection to the original candy factory, this ice cream parlor and candy shop is often packed with people enjoying big ice cream sundaes or mugs of hot chocolate. It's so popular, there's a second shop at the west end of the plaza. The quality is good, not great, but the atmosphere and the views make it worth a visit if you're in the area.
Joe's Ice Cream
5351 Geary Blvd. at 18th Avenue
Like the Street Francis Fountain, Joe's is an old-fashioned sandwich shop and ice cream parlor. The decor is somewhat utilitarian, but the sandwiches are good and the ice cream is excellent. There are over 40 flavors plus sundaes, floats, malts, and milkshakes. They also make a great It's It, an ice cream sandwich made with two oatmeal cookies and coated in chocolate.
3338 24th Street between Mission and Bartlett
Latin Freeze has the best paletas in the Mission. These frozen fruit ices are made from pureed fresh fruit with no artificial flavors, and they taste like they were just picked from the tree. Flavors vary seasonally but typically include strawberry, coconut, mango, papaya, tamarind, hibiscus, and more.
Mitchell's Ice Cream
688 San Jose Avenue at 29th Street
People go to Mitchell's for the ice cream, not the ambiance. The shop is a nondescript store front on a fairly busy street, and the decor inside is pretty basic. The ice cream, on the other hand, is excellent. You'll find tropical flavors like buko (baby coconut), ube (a sort of yam), and avocado, in addition to a cinnamon-scented Mexican chocolate that's so chocolatey it looks almost black.
Polly Ann Ice Cream
3138 Noriega Street
This 50 year old ice cream shops offers the largest selection of flavors in the city, 500 to be exact, from tropical fruits, such as passion fruit and lychee, to at least a dozen variations on chocolate. Polly Ann's is famous for two things. First, they'll give a free mini-ice cream cone to your dog. Second, if you can't make up your mind what flavor you want, you can spin the flavor wheel to choose for you; if the wheel lands on the "free cone" slot, your ice cream is free. Note: some of the fruit ice cream taste of artificial flavoring, so ask for a taste before you buy.
2015 Fillmore between Pine and California
4101 24th Street at Castro
The specialty at Rory's is goodies that get mixed into the rich homemade ice cream. You choose your ice cream flavor and the mix-in (chopped candy bars, M&Ms, nuts, and so on) and the server blends them on a marble slab before scooping them into a cone or cup. If that seems too indulgent, you can always opt for the non-fat frozen yogurt.
Saint Francis Fountain & Candy Store
2801 24th Street at York
Going to the Street Francis Fountain is like taking a trip back in time. This is a genuine old-fashioned sandwich shop and ice cream parlor, complete with wooden booths, a long counter with stools, and good homemade food. They've been in business since 1918, and a visit to the Street Francis for some of their wonderful homemade ice cream is a time-honored San Francisco tradition. You can have your ice cream straight or fancied up into a luscious sundae, gooey banana split, or thick milkshake. Be sure to try some of the Street Francis' chocolates; the coffee caramels are especially good.