Best ice cream spots in Berkeley

Daniel Kim/File
Daniel Kim/Staff

If you were here in Berkeley last weekend, you’re probably pretty familiar with the record-setting heat wave that spread from the hills to the Marina  some places on campus even reached a whopping 108.5 degrees (the highest recorded temperature since June 2000). While camping out in front of an 8-inch fan is nice until your lips chap or sitting in Strawberry Canyon Pool all day until you turn into a prune is nice, nothing beats a cool, refreshing scoop of ice cream. Since the heat will soon haunt all of us in our nightmares (and realities) once again within the next couple of months, you might as well know the best spots in Berkeley for the perfect scoop. And no, we’re not talking about the overhyped and overrated CREAM. We at the Clog want you to get the scoop on the real deal.

Ici Ice Cream

If you’ve ever walked around Elmwood at night and seen an extremely long line, there’s no doubt it’s for Ici Ice Cream. But, don’t let the line scare you, because there are actually benefits to standing in it and waiting. First of all, you can sample up to three flavors individually, and if you’re with a bigger group, chances are you can try everything as you’re waiting for your scoop. Secondly, the ice cream is incredible and the flavors change everyday, so you’ll always be trying something new. Bonus: if you really don’t want to wait in line, you can skip it to buy pre-packed pints!

Vampire Penguin

While not necessarily an obscure or underrated “ice cream shop” — it technically doesn’t even sell ice cream — Vampire Penguin is too good to not include in this list. Instead of ice cream, its specialty is shaved ice, which is basically a cooler version of ice cream. All plates are Instagram-worthy and flavors include Smoreos, Mexican Candy and Halo Halo. You can even create your very own custom shaved ice plate! Bonus: Vampire Penguin shares its store with Uji Time Dessert, where you can try a variety of Japanese desserts.

John’s Ice Cream

While the atmosphere of John’s may give off the vibe of your run-of-the-mill ice cream parlor and (I)screams anything far from fancy, the best part about this place is they sell great quality ice cream with a huge choice of flavors unique ones too — for only $1.5o a scoop. And trust us, these scoops are big. John’s gets the job done and is a deal that can’t be beat. Popular flavors include ube, mango and buko pandan. Bonus: It’s perfect for us broke college students.


Looking for fresh ice cream made daily with organic and locally-grown ingredients? Then look no further than IScream, located unfortunately so far North that you can hardly call it Berkeley. Never fear, because the trek up there is totally worth it. Flavors change daily (and with the seasons) and nearly everything is made from scratch, including hot fudge and caramel sauce, and other candies that are mixed into their ice cream. Bonus: the smell of their (also made from scratch) waffle cones baking is to die for.

Almare Gelato Italiano

While they don’t technically serve ice cream — they pride themselves on making their gelato “the Italian way” — you can’t not check out Almare Gelato Italiano, located in Downtown Berkeley. Their gelato is smooth, creamy and heaven in a cup (or cone). While servings may at first seem small, scoops are rich in flavor and very filling. Bonus: the shop is cute and aesthetically pleasing and perfect for your daily Snap or Instagram shot.

We hope you can enjoy one of these best-of-Berkeley ice cream shops on the next excruciatingly hot day — er, rather, we hope it’s on a cool day. Berkeley heat, please leave us alone and let us enjoy our ice cream.

Contact Chloe Lelchuk at [email protected].