13 Locally-Owned Shops Serving Up the Best Ice Cream in San Diego
It’s always ice cream weather here, so it’s only natural that you’ll be on the hunt for the best ice cream in San Diego!
And, boy oh boy, does San Diego have incredible ice cream choices, with a couple of our local shops regularly being recognized on national ‘Best Of’ lists.
From ice cream flights to warm waffle cone sandwiches, we’ve rounded up the best ice cream in San Diego – all locally-owned shops.
So next time you get your cream and sugar kick, stop by one of these places for a scoop, or two (or three) of the best ice cream in San Diego!
This Normal Heights staple has been serving up small batch ice cream for 17 years. With staples like Rocky Road to coconut almond fudge, Mariposa has a wide variety of homemade ice cream, sherbet, and sorbet to satisfy any craving. If you can’t make it to their Normal Heights flagship, be sure to stop by their booth on the Oceanside pier or their new location in Temecula.
With over 300 rotating flavors of sweet and savory flavors, Hammond’s started serving their gourmet ice cream in North Park and have since expanded into Pacific Beach and Point Loma. Stressed about trying every flavor? Order their signature ice cream flight with three, six, or more mini ice cream cones. From honey lavender to Bailey’s cream to white chocolate ginger, there’s no shortage of choices.
Founded in 1948, Neiderfrank’s still uses their original 10-gallon batch freezer to turn out their classic butterRum pecan and more unique flavors like Kahlua krunch. While their main location is located in National City, you can find their ice cream all around San Diego including The Daily Scoop and Big Kahuna’s.
For nearly 40 years, this family-owned shop has been scooping cones of traditional Mexican-style ice cream in wild flavors that include chili cucumber, rice pudding, and the customer favorite pistachio. With their secret recipe, owners Juan and Juanito Andrade use old-fashioned methods to create their creamy specialties. While a scoop will only set you back $1.90, make sure to bring cash.
Named after their Grandmother, Moosie’s is the place to go for good, old-fashioned ice cream. With 16 rotating flavors, you can mix two into one scoop or you can treat yourself to two scoops in one of their handmade daily waffle cones. Their tempting flavors of chocolate-dipped strawberry, peppermint candy, burgundy cherry, and more are made by the Fosselman family who has been serving Southern California for 91 years.
Designed to resemble a 1950’s ice cream parlor, this Coronado shop handcrafts its ice cream daily and offers a variety of mix-ins before being scooped into a freshly baked waffle cone, chocolate dipped cone or the trusty cup. If you’re feeling especially indulgent, order the dessert nachos made from waffle cone chips and three scoops of ice cream, or the ice cream tacos. Yes, you read that right.
Famous for its hot waffle ice cream sandwich, this cash-only Ocean Beach may be small but it packs a punch. You can choose between a plain, chocolate, or fruit waffle and pair it with one of the classics such as praline or go the extra mile and order cotton candy. If you aren’t in the mood for a sandwich, you can order your ice cream in a cup, cone, or waffle cone bowl.
This Imperial Beach spot has been owned by French Chef Fabrice Gaunin for 17 years. With prime views of the pier, Cow-A-Bunga serves equally impressive ice cream. Along with his wife, Nelly, each flavor is handmade in the shop one bucket at a time, sourcing farmer’s markets for local ingredients, like raspberries and strawberries for special batches. Crowd favorites include peanut butter brownie, hazelnut, and spiced chai tea.
Ice cream and cookies are the specialties at this mother-daughter-owned Encinitas spot. Made from organic dairy from Straus Family Creamery, JoJo’s creates out-of-this-world flavors such as bananas foster, cayenne sea salt, and peanut butter honeycomb. For those with allergies, JoJo’s offers several dairy-free flavors and gluten-free cookies and waffle cones.
Ok, it’s not technically ice cream, but we don’t care! An’s gelato is as good as you’ll find anywhere in the world – after all, their chef has 13 years of experience making gelato in Europe! And we love their show of respect for the local community by keeping the ‘dry cleaners’ name.
From the same team that brought Pop Pie Co. to San Diego (yum!), Stella Jean’s Ice Cream is a small-batch ice cream shop that has been named one of the best in the country. And we agree!
The Craft Creamery is different from the other shops on this list, as it draws inspiration from San Diego’s renowned craft beer bars known for showcasing the finest talents of the brewing industry through their tap handles. Guests
are treated to a rotating lineup of the nation’s top independent producers and charming mom-and-pop creameries, offering a selection that goes beyond what you’ll typically find at your local grocery store.
The Craft Creamery carefully sources flavors from approximately 50 of the nation’s top independent creameries, including notable names such as Mutual Friend from San Diego (sister company to Dark House Coffee Roasters), Food & Wine’s #1 Best Ice Cream Spot in the U.S. Molly Moon Ice Cream, Fosselman’s (an old school, family-owned parlor established in 1919), Double Rainbow (awarded “Best Ice Cream in America” for their French Vanilla flavor), Petersen’s Ice Cream (Chicago’s beloved old-fashioned parlor since 1919), Graeter’s (an esteemed concept known for handcrafted French Pot ice cream with over 150 years of history), and Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream (a Wisconsin-based creamery founded by a husband and wife entrepreneurial duo).
Ok, not technically an ice cream shop at all, but we had to add it to the list! The only original horseshoe counter eatery left in San Diego, Clayton’s is full of nostalgia, and having a shake or some scoops while the jukebox plays is just too good to pass up!
The best ice cream in San Diego!
There you go—the list of the best ice cream in San Diego…and maybe anywhere! Get out there and enjoy it!
See you there, San Diego!