Every foodie out there knows that San Francisco is the place to be. With its eclectic neighborhoods, flowing evidence of diversity and openness to all people, who wouldn’t enjoy a meal or two in SF? And as we all know, the most important part of the meal is the dessert. So I’m here to help you narrow down your decision as to where to get dessert next time you’re in the Bay with this list of the 50 best desserts in San Francisco.
1. Banana Cream Tart from Tartine Bakery
A small, hip cafe with everything from toasty sandwiches, fresh coffee and the best bread pudding you’ll ever eat. Located a couple blocks from Dolores Park, it’s worth a stop for an afternoon treat.
2. Any Sundae from Bi-Rite Creamery
Bi-Rite Creamery is a staple to the Mission because of its flavorful organic, small-batch ice cream. With flavors like Malted Vanilla with peanut brittle and milk chocolate pieces (tastes like a Drumstick in a cup) and Basil, they have unique flavors guaranteed to make everyone happy.
3. Strawberry Matcha Latte from Boba Guys
Claiming to serve “the highest quality boba milk tea in the world,” you can’t help but want to try it for yourself. And believe me, the hype is so real. Their use of high-quality ingredients such as Straus Family Creamery organic milks and heirloom premium teas, puts their drinks one step above the rest. Do yourself a favor and grab a boba as a mid-day dessert.
4. Ice Cream Flight from Hometown Creamery
Do you have commitment problems? Hometown Creamery understands and that’s why they created the ice cream flight. The flight allows you to choose five different ice cream flavors if you are unable to choose just one. It even comes with crushed up waffle cones – how cute is that?
5. The Big Donut from Bob’s Donuts
If you’ve ever wanted a donut the size of your head, Bob’s Donuts has got you covered. Alongside their classic glazed, frosted and sprinkled donuts, is Bob’s Big Donut. This donut is part of the Donut Challenge where you are given two minutes to finish the massive dough ball. If you are one of the few able to finish it, you will get the $8.00 refunded from the initial purchase of the donut, a free drink, a Bob’s Donuts t-shirt and your name in their Hall of Fame.
6. Frozen Greek Yogurt from Souvla
Stationed within the cute little neighborhoods of Noe Valley and NoPa, Souvla is your go-to place for authentic, casual Greek food. Although they are mainly known for their spit-fire meats, their Frozen Greek Yogurt is a dessert that you won’t find anywhere else in the city. If you’re not already full from the main course, treat yourself to the frozen yogurt topped with baklava crumbles and honey.
7. Any Adorable Crepe from Belly Good Cafe & Crepes
Probably the cutest, most Instagram-worthy dessert on this list are the crepes from Belly Good Cafe & Crepes. Settled inside the Japantown shopping area, you will have to venture a bit to find the location. Make sure to bring cash (they don’t accept cards) and get the most adorable dessert you’ll ever have.
8. Cookie Sandwich from Over the Moon
Over the Moon is a modern-looking, yet retro creamery that serves ice cream, frozen yogurt and freshly made cookies. Chef Brian Horwitz not only spent years making ice cream, but also years eating it, so you could say he’s a bit of an expert. And if Coffee Caramel Crunch ice cream sandwiched between Sea Salt Chocolate Chip cookies doesn’t sound delicious enough (but let’s be real, that sounds so drool-worthy), they have three other cookie and 23 other ice cream flavors to choose from.
9. Chicory Coffee Ice Cream from Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous
If this ice cream doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will. Situated in the Dogpatch, Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous offers you a classic take on some old school, purist favorites – vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Their menu changes with the seasons and circulates through a wide variety of unique flavors (think beer-flavored or floral or anything else that sounds good to the Mr. & Mrs.). Each of the organic ice cream flavors is sure to form a sense of nostalgia in every bite.
#SpoonTip: Grab some peanut butter malt balls or almond brittle to take home, you won’t regret it.
10. Banana Ice Cream from Californios
If you really want to impress your date, Californios is the place to go. A small Mexican restaurant that prides itself on its use of high-quality ingredients that offer flavorful cuisine, you are promised an “ever evolving” menu that offers 12 to 16 courses. You may not be able to run into the banana ice cream I have recommended, but chances are, you will have a dessert you’ll love.
11. Any Ice Cream Flavor from ShakeDown
At the point you’re probably thinking, “another ice cream place?!” But let’s be real, ice cream is one of the greatest desserts out there and ShakeDown has killer flavors you won’t find anywhere else. With flavors like Pennsyl-Tucky (Derby Pie), Strawberry Forest Cake, Basil Mint Stracciatella, Chipa Cabra and Jacker Crack, you’ll be scratching your head with confusion yet eager to try them all.
12. Ice cream sandwich from Baked Bear
Baked Bear is a bit of a chain with locations all throughout California, Arizona and Nevada, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy of being on this list. The Baked Bear specializes in customizable ice cream sandwiches. And with customization comes plenty of options – think donuts, cookies and brownies with lots of ice cream flavors to sandwich in the middle. This place is great for the picky eaters, the big families and anyone looking for a hearty dessert.
13. Russian Honey Cake from 20th Century Cafe
If I was a princess, I would only eat at 20th Century Cafe because each of their desserts are fit for a queen. Each item is inspired by years of baking experience, vintage cookbooks and travels through Budapest, Vienna and Prague. With the delicacy and sophistication that each of the desserts come with, you can’t help but indulge and sip some tea while doing so.
14. Vanilla Cream Puff from Beard Papa
Flakey on the outside, sweet and creamy on the inside, you can’t go wrong with a classic cream puff from Beard Papa’s. Even though this is probably the cheapest dessert on this list, you won’t be disappointed in this little ball of yum.
15. Penis Cookie from Hot Cookie
Being known for having a large “package” is often a positive thing for men in this day and age. Believe it or not, this cookie shop is known for just that. Situated in the heart of the Castro, a large cookie in the shape of male (or female) genitalia seems quite right. But if you’re not in the mood for something that out there, they’ve got your regular circle cookies as well.
16. Secret Breakfast Ice Cream from Humphry Slocombe
Bourbon + Cornflakes + Ice Cream = Secret Breakfast. What more could you ask for in a dessert? Grab a scoop before hopping on the ferry or after an early morning farmers market trip, the flavors are sure to be new to your palette and perfect for a walk along the water.
#SpoonTip: They are not stingy with their samples, so if you genuinely want to try every flavor, they are glad to do so.
17. Maple Glazed Bacon Apple Donut from Dynamo Donuts
A quaint, little, homey donut shop that has all your sweet and caffeinated breakfast needs. Alongside their coffee menu of cappuccinos, Gibraltars and mochas, they have donuts with flavors like Strawberry Earl Grey, Hazelnut Chocolate Lavender, Banana de Leche and the must-try Maple Glazed Bacon Apple. Just make sure you don’t try to go on a Monday, they’re closed.
18. Macarons from Chantal Guillon Macarons
Think adorable Parisian cafe serving the most Parisian macarons you can find in the city. Chantal Guillon uses only natural colors and ingredients to create these vibrant, gift-friendly cookies. They have everything from classic flavors like Salted Caramel and Pistachio to unique flavors like Passion Fruit and Jasmin Green Tea. So next time you’re taking a stroll through Hayes Valley, be sure to stop in.
19. Any Flavor from Smitten Ice Cream
You may think that once you have tried ice cream from one liquid nitrogen place, you’ve had them all. Smitten is here to challenge that by offering creamy, fresh, made-to-order ice cream like you’ve never had before. With everyday flavors like vanilla, chocolate, salted caramel, and cookie dough (and delicious seasonal flavors), you really can’t go wrong.
20. Beignet Flight from Brenda’s French Soul Food
If you aren’t able to make it to Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans, for their sweet, piping hot beignets and coffee, Brenda’s French Soul Food is a pretty great alternative. Brenda’s offers French Soul Food in a casual atmosphere and offers plain, chocolate and granny smith apple beignets that can’t be beat. I recommend you treat yourself to a beignet flight so you can get a taste of each.
21. World Famous Hot Fudge Sundae from Ghirardelli Square
If you find yourself in the tourist trap that is Fisherman’s Wharf, make sure to head towards Ghirardelli Square for a decadent treat of ice cream and chocolate. There are plenty of oversized sundaes and various chocolate flavors to satisfy every sweet tooth.
22. Chocolate Kouign Amann from b. Patisserie
Out of all the places to wait in line for a dessert, b. Patisserie is the place to do so. You can find fun treats like Chocolate Chai Tea tarts, Chocolate Caramel Toffee Mousse and the notable Chocolate Kouign Amann. And if you couldn’t tell, they are not short of chocolate and that makes for a good dessert spot to me.
23. Green Chile Apple Pie from Chile Pies
There are not many places where you can casually buy a slice of pie, but Chile Pies is the place to do so. Each of the pies are made from scratch every day using original recipes to produce flavors like Peanut Butter Chocolate or your classic Apple. But the most notable flavor is the Green Chile Apple Pie which comes with Walnut Streusel, a Cheddar Cheese Crust and a Red Chile Honey Drizzle.
#SpoonTip: If you want a dessert that is truly crazy, order a milkshake. They literally add a slice of pie to the milkshake.
24. Beignets from Bernal Star
Bernal Star is a quaint little restaurant that offers a killer brunch, great burgers and brews. Out of everything in their wide-variety of menu options, the beignets are what really takes the cake. Fried to perfection and served with fresh fruit, this is a San Francisco must have.
25. Chef’s Tasting from Dandelion Chocolate
You know how great beer flights are? Well, take that and turn it into chocolate and your dream can become a reality with a visit to Dandelion Chocolate. Come try this bean-to-bar handmade chocolate treat that will be sure to impress your Instagram followers. Maybe you’ll even be lucky and get the s’more chocolate as part of the tasting.
26. Banana Split from The Ice Cream Bar
Caramelized bananas can make anything great and all it does it make this sundae even sweeter. This unique take on the classic banana split takes scoops of chocolate, vanilla and cherry ice cream and tops it with hot fudge, butterscotch, cherry sauce, caramelized bananas, whipped cream and almonds. They also sell scoops of ice cream, soda floats and sandwiches for those looking for something less decadent.
27. Peach-Strawberry Empanadas from Foreign Cinema
If you know someone who is a San Francisco local and they offer to take you out to dinner, it would be smart for them to bring you to Foreign Cinema. Foreign Cinema is a California-Mediterranean restaurant where you eat your meal with foreign films being projected on the walls – classy, right? Their desserts follow suit. If you’re lucky enough to come during the right season, you’ll be able to order these great Peach-Strawberry Empanadas.
28. Mochi from Benkyodo Co.
Mochi is always fun to eat and an especially unique dessert necessary of adding to this list. Some of the mochi have fresh fruit, others with red bean and even one with peanut butter.
29. Box of Chocolates from Charles Chocolates
Charles Chocolates is known for creating artisanal chocolate from high-quality ingredients because if you’re going to eat sweets, might as well do it right. They also have an afternoon tea which is the perfect way to wind down after a busy day.
30. Coffee Crunch Cake from Yasukochi’s Sweet Stop
Another Japantown treat. Yasukochi’s Sweet Shop doesn’t look like anything special, but the Coffee Crunch Cake is truly to die for. So treat yourself and get the whole cake.
31. Green Tea Monaka from Kissako Tea
Once again, another Japantown dessert. These thin crisp wafers surrounding green tea ice cream is an adorable treat that’s easy to eat.
32. Gelato Bar from Sixth Course
If you’re looking for something mini and Instagram-worthy, Sixth Course is where you need to be. They offer delicate truffles with creative names, colors and flavors, tiny pies in a jar and of course, these lovely gelato bars.
33. Traditional Cheesecake from Zanze’s Cheesecake
This cheesecake is so fancy, it’s cut with a fishing wire. It’s creamy, decadent and has a little crunch. What more could you ask for in a cheesecake?
34. Any Crème Brûlée from The Creme Brulee Cart
Mini Crème Brûlées?! Count me in. You can find The Creme Brulee Cart at the Friday Night Off the Grid food truck event or in downtown, but trust me, it’s worth the stop.
35. Ube Ice Cream from Mitchell’s Ice Cream
Mitchell’s Ice Cream is an ice cream shop that reminds me of one I’d see in 90’s movies and is family-owned with a friendly environment. It’s an ice cream shop that will make kids, adults and everyone in between happy. Do yourself a favor and try the Avocado ice cream. Sounds weird, but it’s pretty great.
36. Strawberry Shortcake Cotton Candy from Sugar and Spun
Where else can you get cotton candy outside of an amusement park or sporting event? Sugar and Spun, that’s where. Their cotton candy is sold in various markets and at foodie events and you can even order it online. And they don’t just have pink and blue cotton candy, but also Peanut Butter & Jelly, Green Tea, Cookie Butter and many more.
37. Tiramisu Cupcake from Cako Bakery
You haven’t had a moist cupcake until you’ve had the Tiramisu Cupcake from Cako Bakery. A shot of espresso is injected into the cupcake after it’s baked and topped with a decadent mascarpone frosting. They have other unique flavors like Strawberry Shortcake which is a strawberry base, graham cracker crust, a chunk of cheesecake in the middle and cream cheese frosting on top. Uh, YUM.
38. Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich from Swich Bake Shop
Ice cream sandwiches are one of the best ways to eat dessert. They combine cookies and/or brownies with ice cream and dessert combos are the best things. Go with a safe pre-made combination or make your own, but regardless, you’ll be satisfied.
39. Assorted Cream Puffs at Choux Bakery
Mini French Cream Puffs is basically the only way to do fancy dessert, at least in my book. Grab a couple cream puffs and a cup of coffee and you’ll have a fun afternoon treat.
40. Honey Comb Soft Serve at Honey Creme
Creamy honeycomb soft serve with decadent honey or fudge toppings makes for a sweet dessert. Smooth, creamy and perfect after dinner treat.
41. Any Chocolate Bar from TCHO Chocolate
Square bars of chocolate in fun flavors like Coconut Crisp, Mint Chip Gelato and Almond + Sea Salt are super nice to carry around and super delicious to snack on. Blue Bottle Coffee even uses TCHO for their mochas, so you know it must be good.
42. Horchata Shaved Snow from Powder Shaved Snow
Ice Cream + Shaved Ice = Snow. It’s light, airy, everything you could need on a hot afternoon in San Francisco (which is rare, but great when it does happen). Their flavors rotate seasonally, but regardless you’re in for something delicious.
43. Creme Fraiche & Strawberry Balsamic Gelato from Lush Gelato
No this isn’t another ice cream place… it’s gelato, and it’s great. Olive Oil & S’mores is a flavor, so you know their desserts are truly innovative and the range is endless.
44. Old Fashion Cupcake from Miette
Okay, how cute is this? This bakery is adorably pink, covered in pastel colors that are so charming you can’t help but walk right in for a snack. This cupcake is the perfect combination of bittersweet chocolate cake and gooey marshmallow cream frosting. Do yourself a favor and grab one of these and a couple macarons.
45. Coconut, Coffee, Yuzu Stone from Craftsman and Wolves
This dessert is delicate, moist and all different kinds of textures (in a good way). The “stone” consists of a coffee mousse, with a citrus yuzu center on top of some toasted coconut. Crazy fancy.
46. Frozen Yogurt from Loving Cup
This frozen yogurt isn’t like your typical Yogurtland. This yogurt starts with real yogurt, is frozen and then hand-churned to make for this thick, creamy treat. There are also plenty of mix-ins to choose from.
47. Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie from Anthony’s Cookies
It doesn’t get much simpler than this – the classic chocolate chip cookie. And it’s made just how we like it, crispy on the outside, ooey-gooey on the inside. They even have gluten-free!
48. Deep Fried Oreos from Batter Up
If you want the nostalgic feeling that reminds you of your city’s county fair, Batter Up is the place to be. Grab some deep fried Oreos or treat yourself do a deep fried Reese’s. They’re basically donuts with delicious surprised inside – totally worth the calories.
49. Peach Blackberry Pie from Mission Pie
If you’re looking for a slice of pie in the middle of the city that’s even better than your mom’s, Mission Pie has got you covered. Their pie menu changes seasonally, so you will always be getting the freshest, most delicious slice of pie every time. Might as well treat yourself and get that slice à la mode.
50. Cruffin from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
If you know anybody that is from San Francisco, they’ll know Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. This iconic bakery always has a line, is full of flakey pastries and is delicious to basically everyone. So grab a cruffin, or ten, and have a great Saturday morning.
#SpoonTip: Check out Mr. Holmes Instagram for the weekly Cruffin and Donut flavors.