Around town with Allison: Legen(dairy-free) vegan ice cream in the Bay

Allison Fong/File

I scream! You scream! We all scream for vegan ice cream! As someone who is lactose-intolerant, I’ve found that discovering decent dairy-free ice cream is harder than you would think, especially being in the Bay Area. Although there are many places that I have a forbidden love for (I’m talking to you Ici and Tara’s), I’ve recently had to bid my farewells and move onto fewer dairy-containing pastures.

There’s honestly nothing worse than going out for ice cream with friends and having to settle for a sorbet. I mean sure, sorbets are bomb AF, but sometimes you want actual ice cream — just without all the dairy and stuff. Although there are countless spots to get yourself a scoop of some vegan ice cream, I wanted to highlight some of my personal favorites in this week’s “Around town with Allison.” Here’s the inside scoop!

Mr. Dewie’s Cashew Creamery

Watch out folks, things are about to get a little nutty in here. Located just a short drive or bus ride away awaits a vegan’s paradise that serves exclusively vegan ice cream made from cashews. With a large assortment of flavors, such as mocha chip (my personal favorite) and caramel almond crunch, you’re bound to find something that’ll satisfy your sweet tooth! Not only is Mr. Dewie’s Cashew Creamery dairy free, it’s also free of gluten and soy, which makes it even friendlier to other dietary restrictions. The care and attention that the folks at Mr. Dewie’s have for their products in terms of ingredients and dietary restrictions are some of the reasons why Mr. Dewie’s remains one of my favorite ice cream spots in the Bay!

Pro-tip: don’t skip out on their buckwheat waffle cones! To read more about Mr. Dewie’s, check out my Around town with Allison spotlight piece, featuring Mr. Dewie’s Cashew Creamery!

Salt & Straw

Besides the fun and delicious flavors that Salt & Straw serves on a regular basis, this Portland-based company also offers some killer vegan flavors! Made with coconut milk, Salt & Straw offers a variety of equally satisfying and creative vegan flavors, such as freckled mint TCHO chocolate chip ice cream and Dandelion chocolate hazelnut cookies and cream (I dare you to say that name three times fast). Every spoonful is jam-packed with so much flavor that you would’ve thought they poisoned you with cow’s milk — you’ll be thinking that there’s no way in hell that this ice cream is vegan. Keep an eye out for some seasonal flavors too, which always include a vegan flavor. If your friends aren’t down to try out a place that serves only vegan ice cream, this is the place to be! Everybody wins!

Curbside Creamery

A hidden gem in Oakland’s Temescal area, Curbside Creamery makes insanely good dairy and cashew ice cream. Nothing hits the sweet spot more than a scoop of its vegan dark chocolate or cookies and cream ice cream on a sugar cone. Sometimes when making ice cream out of cashews, the taste of the cashews can be a bit overpowering, but Curbside Creamery has really nailed it on this one — you honestly wouldn’t even be able to tell that it wasn’t made from cow’s milk. This charming ice cream shop is one of my favorites because we have two things in common: we’re both from Oakland, and we also know a thing or two about vegan ice cream. If you’re a big chocolate and peanut butter fan, be sure to grab one of Curbside’s vegan ice cream sandwiches, made from chocolate ice cream on peanut butter cookies. It literally tastes like what Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups would taste like if they were in ice cream form. Remember, you heard it here first, folks.

Garden Creamery

Garden Creamery is another iconic spot in the Bay Area. It’s an ice cream shop that specializes in both dairy and coconut-based ice cream. Located right on the corner of 20th Street and Lexington Street in the Mission district, sits a pink building that houses one of my favorite vegan ice creams. There’s nothing I love more than a tea-flavored ice cream. Let me just say that Garden Creamery won me over instantly with its earl gray and Thai tea vegan ice cream. Made with local ingredients and lots of love, Garden Creamery has definitely won my heart, and I can guarantee that it’ll do the same for you! While you’re there, be sure to snap a cute pic with the Insta-worthy decor, which includes white backsplash, green plants, jungle print seats and natural lighting — all components of a killer photo, if you ask me. I mean, if you don’t share a pic, who would ever know that you’re living your best life eating vegan ice cream in San Francisco? No one.

D&H Vegan Ice Cream

As the only soy-based ice cream spot on this list, D&H doesn’t play any games when it comes to vegan ice cream. Made fresh with local organic soy milk, D&H serves a lot of yummy flavors, such as earl gray, strawberry hibiscus and peach. This spot is a great option for those of you who are dairy and nut free, as some of the other options on this list contain nuts. Or maybe your favorite cow’s milk alternative is soy — whatever it may be, D&H is definitely worth checking out! Although this spot is new to the vegan ice cream scene, D&H doesn’t disappoint with its ice cream. If you’re ever in Oakland and are close to the Lake Merritt BART station, be sure to hit this spot up for some super satisfying vegan treats!

So there you have it folks, these are my top five favorite vegan ice cream places in the Bay Area! Grab your friends (all of them) and be sure to check out one (or all!) of these places. Who knows, maybe you’ll even convert some of your friends to the dairy-free life. (To be honest, that’s a lot to ask for but it’s worth a shot!)

Allison Fong writes the weekly blog column on places and activities to try in and around Berkeley. Contact her at [email protected].