You don’t have to be hungry to eat ice cream, nor does it have to be warm and sunny to indulge in a cone. These days especially — this week, especially — we relish every opportunity to enjoy simple, comforting pleasures. And it seems we’re not alone. Since the pandemic started, a whole slew of new ice cream options have been popping up around the East Bay, each with its own unique spin. From creamy frozen treats from newly emerged pop-ups and micro-creameries to soft serve, sundaes and milkshakes at established restaurants, we’ve got the scoop on eight new East Bay-based options to get your ice cream fix.
Miharu Ice Cream
Dipen Pattni and Jessica Mertens launched Oakland-based Miharu at the beginning of October as a delivery-only ice cream brand, but have since started offering a pickup option at their commercial kitchen space. The co-owners and ice cream creators churn out cool flavor combos using local and international ingredients, like Pinole blue corn with cinnamon and peach — a sweet and earthy blue corn ice cream base offset by warming notes of cinnamon and tangy bites of peach. In addition to pints, Miharu also offers a unique lineup of sundaes (including a build-your-own version). The classic banana split, for instance, gets a modern update with a brûlée-d banana accompanied by scoops of dark milk chocolate, vanilla and lychee ice cream, before being topped with hot fudge, berry jam, whipped cream and peanut butter sauce or butter-toffee peanuts ($12). Scoops are four to eight ounces and range from $5.99-$8.99, and pints ring in at $14.50. Miharu Ice Cream, 2353 E 12th St. (near 23rd Avenue), Oakland
Mood Ice Cream
While this black- and queer-owned creamery doesn’t have its own brick-and-mortar yet, word of LaTajh Weaver’s Mood Ice Cream has gotten around thanks to her convenient East Bay delivery schedule and neighborhood pop-ups. Weaver makes six simple, yet scrumptious flavors, each with unique mood-matching names like Chocolate Joy, Lemon Love and Mint Chip Satisfaction, priced at $9 a pint or $17 for a quart. Rest assured that any flavor you choose is sure to provide an instant mood boost. Schedule a delivery online, or place an order for pickup on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in front of Tacos Oscar. Pick up Mood Ice Cream at Tacos Oscar, 420 40th St. (between Webster Street and Shafter Avenue), Oakland
Owners Trish Gangan and Matt Esparza started their micro-creamery because they felt a need to create during the pandemic. Enter Chunky Butt, a new ice cream company with a jokey name that is seriously good. Gangan and Esparza live in Oakland but work out of an Emeryville kitchen, where they play with flavors nostalgic to their Filipino and Mexican roots. Their Peachy Pie (cream cheese ice cream, peach mango compote, pieces of pie crust and butter meringue), for instance, is a frozen ode to the peach mango pie at Filipino fast-food restaurant Jollibee. The duo makes and bakes quite literally everything in their seasonally flavored pints, which are hand packed with layers of ice cream and flavorings to create what they call a “pie in a pint” or “cake in a cup” effect. They source all ingredients locally and have been known to collaborate with regional farmers too. Chunky Butt currently offers one flavor every other week; ice cream can be picked up at pop-up locations in the East Bay. Check Instagram for the current flavor and then pre-order pints online.
Best known for its waterside patio and seafood-heavy entrees, Lake Chalet has recently expanded its dessert offerings to include Straus Family Creamery organic ice cream. Order a sundae with a choice of chocolate or caramel sauce ($8), or unleash your inner child at the boardwalk and order a heaping cone of soft serve ($6). Flavors include a dairy-free pineapple (think Dole Whip), Straus vanilla or a swirl of the two. And if you need a mini tropical escape, add a shot of rum for $4 to your cone for a bite of the islands. Order a soft serve to finish up your meal (Lake Chalet is seating diners outside on the patio and indoor at 25% capacity) or pre-order a soft serve for pickup to enjoy on a stroll around the lake. Lake Chalet, 1520 Lakeside Dr. (at Lake Merritt), Oakland
Grand Lake Kitchen
Not to up the ante, but Grand Lake Kitchen, with locations just on the other side of Lake Merritt and in the Dimond district, is also churning out pineapple and other soft-serve flavors, but in a transportable, hard-packed pint. Along with vegan-friendly Dole Whip, it’s offering a vanilla and chocolate swirl sundae with choco sauce drizzle, Oreo crumbles and Amarena cherry; the Moose & Squirrel with chocolate soft serve, pretzel toffee, marshmallows, chocolate chips and cacao nibs; and the PB&J (only available at the Lake Merritt location) made with vanilla soft serve, graham cracker bits, swirls of strawberry jelly and, of course, peanut butter. Pints range from $7-$8 and are available for takeout or delivery, but if you just can’t wait to get home to taste your pint, you can sit at the outdoor picnic tables at the Lake Merritt location for a little ice cream pick-me-up. Grand Lake Kitchen, 576 Grand Ave. (between MacArthur Boulevard and Euclid Avenue); 2042 MacArthur Blvd. (near Fruitvale Avenue), Oakland
Since the start of the pandemic, Sister on Grand Avenue has been making a series of seasonal and exceptionally flavored ice creams and sorbets for pickup or delivery. Past flavors include hojicha (a Japanese green tea), Kashiwase Farms pluot sorbet, and peaches and kosho (a Japanese fermented citrus-chili paste) cream. Currently, Sister has a cookie milk ice cream topped with honeycomb brittle ($12 a pint) and a refreshing Full Belly quince sorbet ($6 a half-pint) on its menu. Get a taste before these flavors are gone. Sister, 3308 Grand Ave. (near Elwood Avenue), Oakland
Lion Dance Cafe
The newly opened Lion Dance Cafe, an “authentic, not traditional” Singaporean-Chinese plant-based eatery, serves up some crazy-good food, but for now, orders are for takeout by pre-order only (Ordering starts Wednesday for pick up Friday and Saturday). End your meal with one of Lion Dance’s sundae kits ($12), made in partnership with Curbside Creamery. The coconut sundae kit features vegan young coconut ice cream with salted piloncillo (a type of raw cane sugar) syrup, pandan (a fragrant leaf used widely in Southeast Asian cuisine) jellies and roasted soybean flour potato chips. If you’re looking for something with a bit more of a kick, the vanilla kit might be more up your alley; it’s made with vegan vanilla bean ice cream, makrut lime leaf, salted peanut butter caramel sauce and finished with a crunchy chili-peanut topper. Lion Dance Cafe, 380 17th St. (between Franklin and Webster streets), Oakland
Uptown Oakland newcomer Daughter’s Diner has hit the ground running in the neighborhood by offering classic diner food with some serious top-chef flair. And no diner would be complete without an entire ice cream section on the menu. Chef Keven Wilson makes all the ice cream in-house using organic Alexandre Family Farm 6% milk. Along with classic flavors like vanilla and chocolate, standout offerings include roasted strawberry (charring brings out a deeper strawberry flavor) and candy cap mushroom (which tastes like maple syrup and cinnamon) ice cream. Daughter’s Diner serves its ice cream in a bowl, waffle cone, soda float or milkshake inside (at 25% capacity) or on the sidewalk patio. Daughter’s Diner, 326 23rd St. (between Webster and Valdez St.), suite D, Oakland