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It's actually harder than one might think to find sincere, small-batch ice cream. Even good shops often buy theirs from elsewhere. The primary reason being that ice cream is difficult and time-consuming to make. I've made plenty and getting the overrun (the amount of air in the final product) right is a pain in the neck--never mind getting the flavor on point!

But Cow-A-Bunga in Imperial Beach serves up scoops and sundaes of locally made, gourmet ice cream.

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A little while back I heard from a friend that the guy who opened up Cow-A-Bunga had been successful in the San Diego restaurant industry but that he'd basically thrown up his hands in disgust and opened up a really good ice cream shop instead of dealing with the full-time hustle and bustle of restaurant ownership. Considering how many restaurants have put me in similar straits, I can't say that I blame him!

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The ice cream is actually priced reasonably, too. Scoops start at $2 and sundaes and banana splits are in the $4-$6 range. That's not too bad at all, considering the quality of the ice cream. It's velvety smooth and richly flavored. It even has the chewy texture of a really good sorbet or gelato that contains a lot of invert sugar (i.e. sugar that's been cooked in a way that splits the sucrose molecule), which prevents water from forming ice crystals. In short: this is some seriously good ice cream.

And the espressi aren't half bad, either. Shots start at $1.35 and there's even an option to get the coffee served over ice cream.

Cow-A-Bunga is interesting because it maintains a low-key, almost goofy beach atmosphere and still manages to turn out a high quality product. In a lot of ways, it's much like a hip gelato shop, but it couldn't be more different in appearance. For example, it's wholly un-Euro to have stuffed cows and signed surfboards on the walls, but Cow-A-Bunga pulls it off. Probably because the ice cream is so damn good!

10 Evergreen Ave
Imperial Beach
619-628-0508

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Comments
1

Ian, have you tried Niederfrank's, Neveria Tocumbo or Oasis ice cream? I'm convinced the best ice cream in the county are south of 94 & the best of the best are probably Mexican ice creams.

July 13, 2012

Haven't tried them, but I will give it a go when I can!

July 14, 2012

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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