“By the summer, this line will get even longer.”
So says a friend as we wait for scoops at Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream, in Encinitas. The line was about 20 customers deep when we joined, leading well out the door of the shop. But it did move pretty fast, thanks to a high number of scoopers working the counter.
90 North Coast Highway 101 #101, Encinitas
The Handel’s ice cream chain hails from the midwest, where it’s been slowly franchising since first serving ice cream out of an Ohio gas station in 1945. This Encinitas spot is the first to hit San Diego, and part of the deal is that each shop makes its own product.
Behind the scoopers are refrigerated tubs containing no fewer than 48 flavors of ice cream, all made on site, some exclusive to this location. The value inherent to this is the shop’s myriad flavors are made in small batches that are never frozen solid, leaving each scoop about as fresh as if you’d made it yourself.
Basically, you’re going to get great ice cream here. It’s soft and creamy, and if you’re a fan of chunky add-ins, you’ll find quality fruit, nuts, and candy additions generously applied. A “single” scoop starts at $3.95, and includes enough ice cream to constitute at least a double scoop elsewhere. The Handel’s double starts at $4.75, and I went for that because it allows you to enjoy two separate flavors. With 48 to choose from, the longest holdup about this line may be when you get to the front, and have to figure out which to order.
Unlike a lot of ice cream shops, you won’t see the ice cream inside a glass counter here, just a chalkboard menu of names. Some names are easy to decipher, such as chocolate, nondairy chocolate, mango sorbet, black raspberry sherbert, and vanilla chocolate chip. However, other names offer only a hint what to expect. You won’t immediately know what Blue Monster is, for example. View this as an opportunity to ask for both a description and sample spoonful (it’s vanilla ice cream, colored blue, with chunks of Oreos and Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies).
I got about three samples deep before my order was set: a double scoop of Heavenly Hash (a rocky road adaptation featuring marshmallow fluff, chocolate chunks, and chocolate covered peanuts); and Peanut Butter Parfait, a fudge-infused vanilla ice cream with a peanut butter ribbon. The third flavor I sampled, Spouse Like a House, also had a peanut butter ribbon, weaving through vanilla malt ice cream with chocolate covered pretzels. I ordered that one packed into a hand-packed, pint-sized tub, to go, and stopped sampling. If I’d tried any more flavors, I might have gone home with the whole shop.
You can get scoops in a cone or cup, or for a few cents more a waffle cone or waffle cup. I had to try a waffle cup, particularly since the edges are dipped in chocolate; plain or with nuts or sprinkles. I’m not normally a rainbow sprinkles kind of guy, but since I’d settled on such a chocolate and peanut color spectrum for my ice cream, I decided my photo needed a little color.