The days are getting shorter, and it got cold for maybe a minute last week, enough to pretend that we actually have seasons! And to start pondering pumpkin cheesecake, and who really has the best version around town. Look, Starbucks may have started pouring pumpkin spice lattes back on August 25 (the nerve!), and Dunkin Donuts jumped on the hay wagon with apple cider doughnut holes on August 19 (the audacity!), but you know what? Let’s not be farm animals.
Prime autumnal treats season is right now. So put on your ugliest sweater, because there are so many talented local bakeries, coffee shops, and cocktail bars in San Francisco that are here to satisfy even the most basic of cravings. Here’s where to find the sweetest pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, and pumpkin ice cream, and obviously apple doughnuts and spiced drinks.*
*Best enjoyed while revisiting this classic decorating inspiration from McSweeney’s, getting a head start on your holiday shopping with the Williams-Sonoma Hater’s Guide, or of course, rewatching Hocus Pocus for the thousandth time.
Pumpkin pie from Revenge Pies at Macondray
Cult-favorite bakery Revenge Pies went underground during the pandemic, although it has been popping up on a few dessert menus around town, repackaged in cute pie jars. But you know what? Not in October. The classic pumpkin pie is back with a vengeance, in its original deep-dish form, with the all-butter vodka crust. It’ll be on the menu at Macondray cocktail bar this weekend, and as long as you’re treating yourself, you might as well get chicken nuggets and a spicy cocktail to start, right?
Pumpkin cheesecake from Noe Valley Bakery
Pumpkin cheesecake is a very particular tangy craving, and rumor has it that Noe Valley Bakery has one of the best around town, with that rich and creamy custard, and toasty graham cracker crust. Of course, given the neighborhood, they have adorably miniaturized it into a pint-sized serving that would be reasonable enough to serve to a small child.
Apple fritters and pumpkin spice doughnuts at Bob’s
Apple cider doughnuts are a rare breed in San Francisco — are there not quite as many apple-picking maniacs around here there are New England, perhaps. But an apple fritter from Bob’s that’s bigger than your face is no small consolation prize, and there’s even a festive pumpkin spice doughnut for the season.
Pumpkin ice cream from Mitchell’s
BiRite, Smitten, and Salt & Straw all have sweet, spicy, and respectable pumpkin ice creams on the menu this time of year, so feel free to sample your way around town. But the OG is Mitchell’s, the Mission ice cream shop that has been serving ube purple ice cream for more than half a century, so they understand colorful vegetable desserts. Let it also be noted that they launched pumpkin ice cream on the first of October. What a class act.
Pumpkin spice snowy plover from Andytown
Better than any oversized fast-food coffee chain, our local Andytown Coffee Roasters is scurrying into the season. Its signature snowy plover iced coffee confection is currently spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Just look at it, adorably nested in a festive arrangement of red kuri squashes. That whip is so seasonal.
Cider box from Far West Cider Co.
Did you know that there’s a cider maker right up on the Bay in Richmond? Far West Cider presses and ferments fruit from their fourth-generation family farm. Pick up a few bottles from the waterfront, or you can get free delivery on orders over $60, and why wouldn’t you want a farm box full of properly dry and outstandingly effervescent hard ciders?