I’ve heard of Bi-Rite Creamery for some time now, but I’ve never really had a chance to see what all the hub bub was. After trying a scoop of some Honey Lavender from TUmmy at her place one time, I was curious to go and check it out. Admittedly, although the Honey Lavender was good, it did have a strongly fragrant taste that reminded me exactly of a spa. It was as if each scoop of Honey Lavender flashed me back to a day of relaxation and rejuvenation. It was pleasant… but weird at the same time.
Anyways, after having dinner at Kabuto in the Richmond, TUmmy, TffY and I decided to trek back over to the Mission and brave the potentially infamous line at Bi-Rite. Surprisingly, it seemed like the winds and 55 degree weather had scared some people off, because TUmmy said that there is normally a line that loops around the corner. It’s a wonder why we braved the cold, but I suppose weather is not a big deterrent when it comes to food. =)
After trying a handful of flavors, I ended up getting 2 scoops of the Coffee Toffee and Ricanelas, which is this really interesting cinnamon-flavored ice cream with bits of snickerdoodle cookies mixed in. I had no idea what Ricanelas was until I went home and looked it up. I guess it’s a brand of cinnamon which is obviously used in the ice cream flavoring. The snickerdoodles were really what made the Ricanelas hit the bullseye on my taste buds. If anyone has had Ben & Jerry’s Peach Cobbler, it’s kind of a similar in concept and consistency. The Coffee Toffee was also very good mainly because of the coffee and toffee mix. The bits of toffee were sweet enough to cut the very distinct coffee-flavor which normally would have been a turn off for me. TUmmy absolutely loves Salted Caramel and kept talking non-stop about it, but when I tried it, I was a little confused. It was salty but sweet but not in a kettle corn way… but some other odd way that didn’t excite me too much.
On a subsequent trip, just a couple weeks later, I went with TUmmy again so that we could introduce Pdho to the wonderful flavors of Bi-Rite. We ordered a few other interesting flavors this time around. A real stand out was the Strawberry Balsamic. It was very interesting. You could really taste the fresh strawberries throughout the entire scoop, and the balsamic taste seems like it would be somewhat contrasting but in actuality, it was really quite complementary. I’m starting to see balsamic vinegar used in a lot of the unusual flavor combinations, and surprisingly, it has turned out very well most of the time. The other flavor was a Banana Mango Sorbet which unfortunately fell kind of flat. I think it tasted a little bit too much like frozen banana baby food.
Anyways, Bi-Rite is a very SF-style kind of place and screams all the things that have come to represent the way of living and mentality of this “granola crunchy” city, local, organic and sustainable. Starting with the biodegradable cups and spoons to the all organic ingredients that are sourced from local farms. They actually use real metal spoons as tasting spoons assumingly in an effort to reduce waste. Considering how freely we were able to taste the different flavors, it could be a lot of water and detergent used in place of extra garbage sent to the landfills. All that aside, it’s just so typically SF and that is actually part of the charm and appeal even though I don’t feel akin to all that mumbo jumbo. It’s funny, because in any other city, one could easily turn down their noses at places like this for being cheap and tacky, but I actually think it’s these kinds of places that totally thrive in San Francisco.
Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the variety of flavors offered at Bi-Rite, and aside from its location in the Mission (where parking is such a pain in the arse) and its rather high price tag ($7.50/pint) I’d probably be going here for dessert on a regular basis. Nevertheless, it’s definitely worth the trip and worth the wait (although I would recommend buying a couple pints to go (as TffY, TUmmy, and I did), because you can skip the line AND have some ice cream for later).
3692 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
PAFO Ratings for Bi-Rite Creamery:
Price 3 ½ stars
Ambiance 3 stars
Food 3 ½ stars
Overall rating 3 ½ stars