One of the perks of summer is cooling off with a tasty summer treat, and there’s no better place to find one than in San Francisco. Here are our seven favorite summer treats — some sweet, some savory — to cool you off in the City by the Bay.
1. Frozen Custard at The Velvet Scoop: This indie Mission District frozen custard shop serves vanilla, chocolate, and limited time releases like Guinness to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day ($3.89 for a small). But the real treat here are the decadent concretes ($3.99 for a small) — the Midwestern term for especially thick and creamy frozen custard creations. Choose from a list of tried-and-true offerings like Cookie Delight, with vanilla frozen custard, crushed Oreos, and cookie dough; or Dirt Dessert, made with chocolate frozen custard, crushed Oreo, and sour gummy worms; or create your own. Note: The Velvet Scoop is closed on Mondays.
2. Gazpacho at Starbelly: For a light meal instead of dessert, head to Starbelly in the Castro District. The friendly neighborhood restaurant is known for its gazpacho ($9), a cold heirloom tomato soup drizzled with basil oil and chunks of avocado. A hint of paprika gives it a kick. The restaurant also serves pizzas, salumi, salads, and rotisserie meats, if you want to pair your soup with heartier fare.
3. Iced Boba Milk Tea at Boba Guys: Need a little afternoon pick-me-up that will quench your thirst? Iced boba milk tea is the answer, and no one does it better than the Boba Guys, Alan and Bin, who make their classic iced milk tea with premium tea, housemade syrup, and Straus organic milk ($3.50). Add boba — tapioca balls — to the concoction served over ice for a special treat ($.50 more).
4. Oysters on the Half Shell at Swan’s Oyster Depot: There’s no shortage of seafood joints in San Francisco, but when freshness and quality matter, you want to order yours from Swan’s Oyster Depot, named one of the 10 best oyster bars in America by Bon Appetit. Expect lines at this 18-seat Nob Hill eatery — most patrons wait at least an hour — and bring cash. You won’t be disappointed.
5. Muddled Mint Iced Coffee at Tiny Warrior Coffee: When you need a jolt of java, skip Starbucks. Instead, treat yourself to an iced coffee at Tiny Warrior Coffee, located inside boutique outdoor gear shop in the Mission District. Choose your iced coffee ($5) — we recommend the Vietnamese — and add fresh muddled mint ($1), chocolate ice cubes ($2), or both. The coffee is roasted in-house and sweetened at your request with housemade syrups. Closed Mondays.
6. Dark Chocolate-Cinnamon Paleta at Nopalito Restaurant: Nothing satisfies on a summer day like a popsicle. We love either of Nopalito Restaurant’s two Bay Area locations. The Mexican restaurant serves housemade paletas, a Latin take on the run-of-the-mill popsicle ($3.50). Dark chocolate cinnamon is always on the menu, but seasonal flavors are available, too.
7. Shaved Ice at Hula Hawaiian: When you want to cool off with tropical flavors, look for the bright yellow food truck at the South Shore Shopping Center facing the beach. You’ll find Hula Hawaiian selling authentic shaved ice ($4) most Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout the summer. Sample a coconut, cherry, or rainbow shaved ice, among others — and just like you would in Hawaii, you have the option here to add snow cap (condensed milk), vanilla ice cream, sweet azuki red beans, or sweet and sour plum powder ($.50 more).