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Taking a Global Tour of Frozen Treats—Without Leaving S.F.

Why settle for plain ice cream when you can lick shaved snow and mangonadas?

Read more Best of San Francisco 2018 here.

The shop: 
Steep Creamery & Tea
The treat: Rolled ice cream
For those who like their dessert to come with a little bit of theater, the Thai-style rolled ice cream at this SoMa newcomer is well worth the price of admission: To make each order, the staff pour a thin layer of liquid ice cream base onto a very cold plate and, once it freezes, scrape it up into tight, perfectly cylindrical bundles that they arrange in a cup like flowers in a vase—ready for your stomach and your Instagram feed. 270 Brannan St., Ste. 100

The shop: Nieves Cinco de Mayo
The treat: Mangonadas
This San Francisco outpost of an Oakland institution is our go-to spot for hand-churned Mexican-style ice cream and, especially, for mangonadas, the tangy-sweet treat that combines mango ice cream, fresh mango, chili powder, pickle-y chamoy sauce, and a straw coated with tamarind candy. It’s summertime in the Mission exemplified. 3052 16th St.

The shop: Uji Time
The treat: Taiyaki ice cream
Uji Time’s specialty is Japanese-style soft-serve ice cream, aka softcream, available in flavors like tofu and black sesame. But the shop is most famous for its fish-shaped taiyaki cones. It’s like stuffing ice cream inside a Japanese sea bream…that just happens to be a particularly airy, fresh-griddled waffle. 22 Peace Plaza, ste. 440

The shop: Lush Gelato
The treat: Argentinean helado
If you didn’t know that Argentinean-style helado is a thing, you probably haven’t spent much time in Buenos Aires, which might have one of the highest concentrations of gelato shops per capita in the world. Lush’s exceptionally creamy, slow-melting gelato is notable for its unorthodox flavors, but Argentinean classics like the dulce de leche are customer favorites. 1870 Polk St.; 520 Columbus Ave. 

The shop: Pepito’s Paletas
The treat: Paletas
In terms of pure refreshment on a hot day, it’s tough to top the Mexican-style popsicles known as paletas, whose defining characteristic is the colorful chunks of fresh fruit that are suspended within. Long a popular roving pop-up and event caterer, Pepito’s now has a semipermanent home at the Dogpatch cocktail bar School Night, where seasonal paleta flavors might include sweet honey guava and caramelized fried banana. 601 19th St. (at School Night)

The shop: Powder Shaved Snow
The treat: Shaved Snow
If traditional hard-scoop ice cream tends to be heavy, dense, and rich, the trendy Taiwanese frozen treat known as shaved snow is the exact opposite of that: thin, light-as-air ribbons of milky flavored ice that melt on the tongue almost instantaneously. Powder’s California-inflected menu features nontraditional flavors like horchata and Vietnamese coffee and toppings like Tcho chocolate. 260 Divisadero St


Originally published in the July issue of San Francisco

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