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Various of ice cream flavor in cones blueberry ,strawberry ,pistachio ,almond ,orange and cherry
(Getty Images)

Encinitas is home to several of San Diego’s favorite gourmet ice cream shops

While there are plenty of ice cream places in San Diego, there are some that stand out thanks to creative flavors, natural ingredients and inviting atmospheres. We went on a search for the best gourmet ice cream the county and here’s what we found.

(Please let us know if we missed your favorite, we’d love to do a part two.)

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A look inside Cali Cream Homemade Ice Cream's Gaslamp location.
(Sara Butler)

Cali Cream Homemade Ice Cream

Ice cream Desserts $
Billed as “a San Diego original ice cream,” Cali Cream Homemade Ice Cream prides itself on being homegrown.

Known for: Waffle bowls, easing the indecision between a cone and a cup. The shop is also very dog-friendly and offers free “puppy cones.”

Popular flavors: Cali Cream’s signature flavor is Graham Central Station, a graham cracker-flavored ice cream with chocolate-covered honeycomb crunch. Oreo Dough and Vanilla Caramel Brownie are also customer favorites.

What I tried: A four-flavor flight: four family-sized scoops served in a clear, restaurant to-go box. What it lacked in presentation was made up for it taste — from the chocolate-covered, delicate honeycomb bits in the Lavender Honeycomb to the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough’s chunks of dough that seemed to come straight out of the mixing bowl. The creamy, hefty scoops stayed frozen longer than expected; when they did begin to melt and swirl together, I was relieved to have gotten complimentary flavors.

Prices: Starting at $4.95 for a single flavor ice cream cup; the four-flavor flight is $6.95.

(SB)
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A variety of cones from Handel's.
(Nina Garin)

Handel's Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt

Ice cream Desserts $
Handel’s originated in Ohio in 1945 and is still beloved around the country thanks to the over-the-top variety of flavors.

Known for: Giant portions — you get a lot of ice cream in a single cup. It also doesn’t skimp on mix-ins, you never have to go digging for chocolate chips, nuts or fruit because you get some in every spoonful.

Flavors: SO MANY. Are you in the mood for chocolate? Try Cheesecake with Oreo or Chocolate Raspberry Truffle. Fruit? There’s Orange Pineapple and Banana Cream Pie. Something new? How about Peanut Butter & Jelly or Horchata? There’s also sherbets, ices and vegan options.

What I got: Coffee Chocolate Chip. This is the ice cream I’ll request for my birthday — it’s my new favorite. The coffee is strong but not overpowering and the chocolate chips are actually bites of chocolate, not flecks like you often find in chocolate chip flavors.

Prices: $4.50 for a single scoop, $5.50 for a double. Other treats range from $3 (for a chocolate covered banana) to $7.50 for sundaes.

(NG)
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A store sign that says JoJo's Creamery and a drawing of an ice cream cone
(Nina Garin)

JoJo's Creamery

Ice cream Desserts $
A cozy neighborhood ice cream shop that brings a homey vibe to its coastal setting. Plus, you get a free mini chocolate chip cookie with every ice cream purchase!

Known for: Making everything from scratch: the organic ice cream, those free tiny cookies, the waffle cones and even the add-ins like brownies, honeycomb and fudge.

Flavors: Neighborhood favorites include Cayenne Sea Salt Caramel, Honey Lavender, Lemon Berry Shortbread and Mint Cookies N’ Cream. The shop also has a variety of dairy-free options like Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie. Waffle cones and cookies also come in gluten-free options.

What I got: Bananas Foster, made with brown sugar, roasted bananas, cinnamon and rum. It was perfectly balanced, the fruit flavor wasn’t overpowering but still bold enough to satisfy banana lovers.

Prices: Items range from $5.25 for one scoop to $10.50 for a pint.

(NG)
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