The Bay Area's Best Ice Cream By Brynn Baker and Triana Devaux

1) Baskin Robbins

At Baskin Robbins, our first stop, we figured that it would make the most sense to try the two most basic flavors: chocolate and vanilla. Their vanilla ice cream was very rich in flavor; however, it was too filling. We found that the chocolate ice cream had the same problem. For the generous portion sizes, we found that the ice cream was a bit too rich. Sizing aside, the ice cream was creamy and had a smooth texture. Baskin Robbins has an extensive menu with a variety of different flavors. Like most ice cream stops we visited, Baskin Robbins allows customers to pick either a cup or cone. Unlike others we visited, however, Baskin Robbins also boasted an array of different cones, some dipped in chocolate, others with sprinkles. A single scoop from Baskin Robbins is priced at $3.99.

Kids' and regular sizes of ice cream at Baskin Robbins

2) Cold Stone

Just blocks from Baskin Robbins, our next stop was Cold Stone Creamery. For the sake of consistency, we tried their chocolate and vanilla ice creams, wondering how their take on the two most classic ice cream flavors would hold up in comparison to Baskin Robbins’. The ice cream was much less dense and rich than the others, which was refreshing after a day of taste testing ice cream (it’s harder than you’d believe.). We enjoyed the creativity involved in the process as well; the employees mix in the toppings, blending the ice cream on a ‘cold stone’, hence the name. The only downfall to Cold Stone was that their ice cream tasted slightly more artificial, and their serving sizes were limited. For two scoops, Cold Stone charges $4.88.

3) Salt & straw

Salt & Straw was definitely a favorite among the ice cream places we put to the test. A new addition to the Downtown Palo Alto scene, it has plenty of unique flavors that you would normally not see in an ordinary ice cream parlor. We found that the ice cream lived up to our high expectations, elicited by the out-the-door line. With less traditional flavors, we were not able to sustain our pattern of trying simply the parlor’s vanilla and chocolate. Despite the atypical menu, their “chocolate gooey brownie” and honey lavender flavors did not disappoint. The chocolate brownie bits were delicious, and tasted homemade. The chocolate ice cream was light, but it was balanced out with the rich and flavorful brownies mixed in. The lavender honey flavor tasted authentic and definitely not overpowering. While we chose cups for our ice cream rather than cones, we could see employees hand-making the cones at the counter. The store itself is dark inside, with extremely limited seating, which we could definitely anticipate causing a problem, given Salt & Straw’s popularity. There is only one size at Salt & Straw, which costs $5.00, slightly pricier than the others.

4) Fraîche

Fraîche sells a variety of frozen yogurts, coffees, and other healthy snacks. The closest thing that we could find to chocolate and vanilla flavors were their Nutella and Organic yogurt. The Nutella was non-dairy, and tasted like frozen Nutella -- sweet and creamy. It had a soft texture and was super light. The original flavor was just as impressive, and even better when toppings are added. Fraîche has a great selection of toppings, making it easy to spice up any of the yogurt offerings. The store has a comfortable and airy vibe, perfect if you ever want to find a place to do your homework.

5) Tin Pot

Tin Pot was another one of our favorites, is also a spot with many unique and fun flavors to test. We tried their Earl Grey and Salted Butterscotch flavors and enjoyed every bite. The Earl Grey ice cream tasted much like Earl Grey tea and was both comforting and delicious. The texture was smooth and clearly tasted homemade. Salted Butterscotch struck the perfect balance between sweet and savory, and was also very creamy. The vibe in the store was cozy, despite not offering much in the way of indoor seating. In regard to cost efficiency, Tin Pot tends to be on the pricier side of the spectrum. A regular size costs $5.75, and a large is priced at $7.25.

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