While the official “San Francisco Treat” might be Rice-A-Roni, to me, it will always be Ghirardelli chocolate. A San Francisco landmark, Ghirardelli has been producing some of the most delicious chocolate in the world since 1852. It has resided in its current location in Ghirardelli Square since 1893, and opened up to the public as an ice cream fountain and chocolate shop in 1964.
Ghirardelli’s claims to fame are their chocolate bars and ground cocoa powder, but the reason I trek to Ghirardelli Square whenever I pass through San Francisco is for the ice cream. I have a deep addiction to chocolate sodas, and it is hard to find an ice cream shop that knows how to make them, and of those shops, no one does it better than Ghirardelli. (For anyone wondering, a chocolate soda is club soda, chocolate syrup, and chocolate ice cream, similar to a float. And more delicious).
The ice cream shop is open late on weekends, but the place stays packed till the last minute. It was an absolute zoo in there when we stopped by around 10 p.m. on a Saturday night! The wait was long, and there was no place to sit inside the shop, but the ice cream sodas, floats, and sundaes are absolutely worth the mild suffering you must endure to get them.
It is ice cream perfection.
Even if inside the ice cream fountain is unpleasantly crowded, there is plenty of seating outside. The Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop is located in Ghirardelli Square, which is comprised of specialty shops and restaurants, and is host to many events and live music performances. You could easily pass an entire afternoon or evening here.
This factory/shop was opened during the gold rush, survived the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, and is still standing today, serving up some of the best ice cream and chocolate treats you can find anywhere. By 1982, the government acknowledged the importance of the original Ghirardelli location, and added it to the National Register of Historic Places. As if you needed any more reasons to pay it a visit. A delicious treat and historic sightseeing, rolled into one!
For additional locations, information about the company, or to buy Ghirardelli products online, visit their website.
Original San Francisco location in Ghirardelli Square hours of operation, location, and additional information can be found here.