What is special about the hot fudge sundae is the being able to step back and become a part of SF history …to taste, touch and hold hands with the past … to join generations of San Franciscans who made the pilgrimage as children for this San Francisco treat.
Ghirardelli still makes the hot fudge on-site. Go to the back and you can watch the process. The ice cream is a special recipe made for the shop by Dreyers.
Yes it is over-priced ($7.95) and possibly not the best hot fudge sundae in the world. But it isn’t bad. Get the dark chocolate fudge. The milk chocolate version doesn’t have much flavor.
The vanilla is as good as any of the mid-range SF ice cream makers such as Swenson’s Bud’s or Mitchell’s. It tastes fresh and doesn’t have the gluey texture of regular Dreyers ice cream.
They did a nice job of putting it together the two scoops, covered with hot fudge, topped with aerosol whipped cream and finished with chopped almonds and a cherry … all neatly contained in the large glass goblet.
Here’s a photo and recipe for the hot fudge sauce
If you are lucky, it will be brought to your table by the gentleman with the handle bar mustache who has worked at the shop for a decade who will recall with affection how he came almost weekly with his parents for ice cream.
I wish I had caught his name. He is a treasure. As he sets the Sunday down he asks where people are from. Every time he knew a little something about the many corners of the country and world.
He had the true SF spirit of making visitors feel welcome. He loves SF … and Ghirardelli … and wants you to love it too.
The hot fudge sundae was one of the first things I had in SF when I moved here a few decades back. That along with Buena Vista Irish coffee, dinner at North Beach restaurant, pizza from Tommasso’s, Swedish pancakes from Sears, Chinese from House of Nanking … and then I threw my Zagat guide out never to buy another.
I was from Boston which was and is a great ice cream town. The Ghirardelli sundae at that time wasn’t even in the same league as Brigham’s. Even the New England Friendly’s chain was way better. So I never went back.
However, separated from the tour book (and Ghirardelli) hype and not expecting much … it was surprisingly pleasant.
Orders are placed at the register before entering the shop after selecting from a large colorful menu
You get a number and take a seat. The shop has changed subtly over the years. It is not quite as charming as on my first visit, but it still has a nice old time ice cream shop feel.
In the back there is a small self-guided tour explaining how chocolate is made. There are four sections – cocoa bean roasting, mills, melanger and conching. Various machines with streams of chocolate demonstrate. I’m assuming that is the fudge sauce.
There are Ghirardelli shops across the country. There are even three at Ghirardelli square. However, it is more about the place. I’m not at all saying it is a SF must do. However, there are worse ways to spend time, money and calories in Fisherman’s Wharf.
What made me return? For years a SF native who is poster on Chowhound has been recommending the sundae, sometimes to the scorn of Chowhounds. I’d thought I’d [put it on my list to revisit.
Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate
900 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109