As we enter August, it might feel like sunshine-filled summer days are coming to an end. But on the Peninsula, where temperatures stay summer-like until September or even October, there’s no reason not to use the heat as an excuse to eat all the frozen treats. Dessert shops across the Peninsula are putting a creative spin on traditional ice cream, offering nondairy options, new vessels to enjoy ice cream and inventive flavor combinations. From ice cream tacos to small-batch gelato, here are 10 spots to get your cold dessert fix this summer – and all year long.
The Penny Ice Creamery, Palo Alto and Los Altos
A Santa Cruz favorite with outposts on the Peninsula, The Penny Ice Creamery makes its ice cream from scratch using local and organic ingredients. Penny’s menu rotates regularly depending on availability of seasonal ingredients sourced from Northern California. Current seasonal flavors include Black Tea Peach, Sour Cream Plum Crisp and Raspberry Rose sorbet. For those looking for nondairy options, a fruity sorbet is always in the shop’s rotation, while their creamy dark chocolate sorbet is a permanent fixture on the menu. Don’t forget to order your scoop topped with their signature toasted marshmallow fluff.
Rabbit Rabbit Cream, Palo Alto
For those who can’t decide between boba and ice cream, Rabbit Rabbit Cream merges both sweet treats into one with their soft serve and floats. Available in a cup or cone, customers can choose from flavors inspired by their favorite milk teas including Thai Tea, Iron Buddha (oolong tea), Kyoto Matcha and Chocolate Buckwheat, which is their nondairy option. Rabbit Rabbit Cream’s menu also includes other soft serve creations such as Buckwheat and Kyoto Matcha soft serve floats and soft serve parfaits with boba and other sweet toppings.
Dolce Spazio Dessert Cafe, Los Gatos
Originally a cafe established in 1980 in Los Gatos, Dolce Spazio started out serving coffee drinks and baked goods along with small-batch Italian ice cream. The local cafe grew a devoted customer base, leading them to produce gelato off-site in a larger facility in Campbell. Gelato flavors include classics like espresso and vanilla bean, but the gelateria also offers a selection of unique, rotating and seasonal gelato and low-lactose sorbet. Flavors include Biscoff Cookie gelato, Honey Lavender gelato, Peach Champagne Sorbet and seasonal varieties such as Pumpkin and Peppermint Oreo.
Rocko’s Ice Cream Tacos, Santa Clara
Rocko’s Ice Cream Tacos founder Lori Phillips found inspiration for her business from her favorite childhood frozen treat: the now-discontinued Klondike Choco Taco. Rocko’s specializes in the ice cream taco, which consists of a freshly baked waffle taco shell, ice cream, peanut butter or chocolate coating and toppings. While waiting for their taco to be assembled and flash frozen in liquid nitrogen, customers can treat their furry friends to Rocko’s Doggie Bon Bons, peanut butter banana honey froyo balls that are made just for pups.
It’s-It Ice Cream Factory Shop, Burlingame
The almost centurylong presence of It’s-It in the Bay Area dates back to 1928, when the owner of San Francisco’s Playland-at-the-Beach amusement park, George Whitney, had the idea to sandwich vanilla ice cream in between two cookies and dip his creation in dark chocolate. The amusement park in Ocean Beach closed in 1970, but the ice cream sandwiches remained a staple of Bay Area culture. Fans of this Bay Area classic can get their fix at the It’s-It factory shop in Burlingame, where all ice cream sandwich flavors, from classic vanilla to cappuccino, are always available.
Yumi Yogurt, San Mateo and Santa Clara
Founded in 1984, Yumi Yogurt has been dishing out towering cups of velvety soft serve on the Peninsula for nearly 40 years. The shop features flavors of Carbolite and Wow Cow frozen yogurt that rotate daily; flavors of the day are announced every morning on Yumi’s Facebook page. Yumi Yogurt also offers ice cream, yogurt milkshakes, yogurt sundaes and smoothies.
Cibele’s Ice Cream, Menlo Park
Cibele’s is a Mexican paleteria offering several varieties of fruit-centered frozen treats to enjoy on hot summer days. In addition to serving traditional housemade ice cream, the paleteria also offers banana splits, fresas con crema (strawberries and cream), ice pops known as paletas and refreshing botanas, fresh-cut fruit topped with chamoy and spices.
Preston’s Candy & Ice Cream, Burlingame
Preston’s Candy & Ice Cream has served as Burlingame’s iconic local candy and scoop shop since 1946. But Preston’s endured tough times during the pandemic, relying on the sale of rescue boxes of assorted chocolates to save the store. The business survived pandemic-related losses, and previous owner Irene Preston handed off ownership to chocolatier Javier Santiago last month. Along with carrying an extensive selection of chocolates made by Santiago, the nostalgic ice creamery offers both traditional and inventive ice cream flavors such as Black Raspberry Marble and Pecan Praline, sorbet, milkshakes, root beer floats and sundaes.
Gulino Gelato, Half Moon Bay
Escape to the coast to cool off with the assistance of Half Moon Bay’s refreshing ocean breeze and a scoop of housemade gelato from Gulino Gelato. Gelato is owner Jean-Paul Gulino’s craft; Gulino’s culinary education included a specialized gelato training in Bologna, Italy. Gulino makes every batch and waffle cone from scratch, locally sourcing the produce featured in select gelato and sorbet flavors such as sea salt caramel, lime and Belgian chocolate.
Pints of Joy, Sunnyvale
Owners and “mommypreneurs” Ketki Dandekar and Arshiya Shaikh began experimenting with ice cream recipe testing during the pandemic with the hope of creating ice cream that was eggless and without any artificial flavorings. Last year, Pints of Joy opened their scoop shop in Sunnyvale, specializing in flavors inspired by nostalgic Indian desserts achieved through ingredients like rose, cardamom and saffron. Customers can enjoy scoops, ice cream sandwiches, ice cream flights and more. Pints of their ice cream are also available.