First Look: Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop, San Francisco

[Photographs: Carrie Vasios]

With 18 retail locations across the country and a burgeoning supermarket presence, Ghirardelli is no longer a small, local chocolate shop. Its roots, however, are still strongly in San Francisco, where the company was started 160 years ago by Domenico Ghirardelli, an Italian confectioner. It makes sense, then, that the new Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop, located downtown on New Montgomery, is full of little odes to the city.

For their location, they chose the Palace Hotel, another San Francisco landmark that's been open since 1887. A large CityScape mural dominates the length of the store—it was specially designed so that the sun rises on the image of the Bay Bridge and sets on the Golden Gate. You'll also see San Francisco on the menu, in names like The Haight Ashberry and the Cable Car.

That menu is made primarily of sundaes. "We are not so much in the ice cream business as in the sundae business. The theme is indulgent sundaes, with great chocolate toppings," explained Yvo Smit the Vice President of Restaurant and Retail Division.


There are 15 sundaes, most featuring the signature hot fudge sauce which is made in shop every day using melted Ghirardelli chocolate. They're not for the faint of heart (the Family Favorite includes 8 scoops of ice cream, 8 toppings, bananas, whipped cream, chopped almonds, chocolate chips, and cherries), but they are nostalgic; with their towering swirls of whipped cream and bright red cherries they're meant to evoke an old fashioned ice cream parlor.

Shakes, floats, and a menu of hot chocolates are also made in house, while a selection of wrapped chocolates are available to go. Click through the slideshow to see all the chocolaty offerings at the new Ghirardelli store.