Whenever it gets cold here on the east coast, we quickly begin to dream of all the warm, sunny fun we’ve had on the west coast. Specifically, San Diego. And it might seem counter-intuitive, but one of the foods we begin to crave the most during the winter is ice cream. But, not just any ice cream. Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream.
Thanks to my buddy, Mike from The Flying Peanut, we were introduced to Hammond’s a few years ago at their first location in North Park. They serve the Hawaiian-made Tropical Dreams ice cream and the flavors range from classics (Butter Pecan and Cookies & Cream) to more unique tastes like Peanut Butter Guava Jelly, White Chocolate Ginger, and Azuki Bean. With a ton of interesting flavors to try, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of their ice cream flights, where you’ll have a chance to try out up to 32 (yes, thirty-two) flavors at once. You don’t believe it’s thirty-two? Fine, check out this proof on Instagram:
You’re booking a ticket to San Diego now, aren’t you? Our personal favorite ice cream flavors include Lychee, Brown Sugar, Toasted Coconut, and Chocolate Orange. Only 28 more flavors to go!
Hammond’s recently opened up a second location in Pacific Beach, so for any one who doesn’t like to travel too far inland, you now have a solid super premium ice cream option near the beach. And a third location is in the works in Point Loma, too!
One of the owners, Trang Hammond, was kind enough to take time out from building an ice cream empire to answer 11 questions about ice cream, Hawaii, San Diego, and all the fun stuff that goes into running your own shop.
1. Hammond’s serves a ton of unique flavors; are there any that have turned out to be more popular than you expected?
Every flavor is unique and has its own fan base, so to speak. I guess the Vanilla Rose, a new flavor we just debuted, is going pretty fast and is really popular. And of course our Ginger Cream, which I think is absolutely amazing–but I was worried it could be too strong–has been such a fan favorite as well since it perfectly captures the ginger taste while maintaining a creamy base.
2. Your North Park location is a natural extension, since you and the other owners were already North Park residents – Why choose Pacific Beach for your second shop?
The first time my husband moved to San Diego from Georgia, he moved to Pacific Beach (like any twenty-something male would, I guess). But he lived there for many years and naturally I hung out there with him a lot, so we really got to know the community. We like the area and the community and we just wanted to provide it with a gourmet ice cream scoop shop.
3. My first experience at Hammond’s included an ice cream flight (as everyone’s first visit should), which allowed me an opportunity to sample six different flavors. Were the ice cream flights always part of the original plan when you all decided to open up the shop, or was it a happy accident that was realized along the way ?
The ice cream flight was a happy accident. We offer so many different flavors that my husband, Ryan, actually thought it would be a great idea to be able to try a lot in individual, smaller portions just like a beer flight. And so, I did the research on cone sizes, and flight holders and the Hammond’s Flight was born.
4. If you could go back in time and give yourself and the other owners one piece of advice about opening up Hammond’s first location, what would it be?
It gets easier. Especially the first location–we opened up right in the middle of summer. None of us ever owned a business before, so we thought we were ready, but we definitely had some growing pains. The community was so warm and welcoming and forgiving that it was crazy, but fun. The first few months before and after opening up is always going to be intense, so looking back, I would tell all of us that it gets easier.
5. What were some of the challenges that you faced when opening up the second location in Pacific Beach? Was it any easier than opening the first store?
The only challenge I would say with the second store, as opposed to the first store, is that because I knew so much more, there was more to do. With the first store, I was still doing start-up things after the Grand Opening, because I was still learning about everything it took to open an ice cream shop. With the second store (and soon third) I started out knowing everything I needed to do and to have, so the list of things to do, make, and buy was enormous.
6. You’ve mentioned in other interviews that Hammond’s is inspired by you and your husband’s vacations to Hawaii in which you discovered this super rich, unique ice cream that you couldn’t find anywhere in San Diego. Are there any other Hawaiian foods that you wish you could find on the mainland?
Yes, pretty much any poke sandwich, nacho wrap, burger, salad, or appetizer I ever ate in Hawaii I wish we had here in the mainland. As for desserts, I just love the Hershey’s Macadamia Nut Kisses you can only get in Hawaii.
7. Do you have any go-to restaurants that you always visit when you’re in Hawaii?
Our favorite island is Kauai. We loved going to a sports bar called Backyards for their Ahi Poke Nachos. The Shrimp Station is always a must for us as well. We liked the low key ambiance on vacation. My best memories involve getting a poke burger at a little shack and heading over to the beach with Ryan and just enjoying the moment.
8. What are some of your favorite North Park restaurants and bars that you frequent?
North Park is full of amazing restaurants and bars. For bars we really like WayPoint Public, because it has great food and a nice little play area where we can watch our toddler play safely while we enjoy our meal. When I was in college, (many years ago) I studied and hung out at Claire de Lune Coffee Shop all the time. They have great pastries, teas and coffees. There is a new restaurant that just opened called Encontro, which I have been dying to try, but haven’t had the chance. They actually make amazing shakes using our ice cream! And we like going to Lefty’s Pizza for a solid slice of pizza with no fuss. While we’re talking about pizza, our North Park neighbor, Urbn Pizza has really good pizzas as well. And they actually created a drink using our waffle cones. Lastly, when we have friends in town, we like taking them to Urban Solace, it’s got great food and a very nice ambiance. And then after dinner I like going to Hammond’s for ice cream, haha. I can go on and on about North Park, but I think this should suffice
9. For people visiting San Diego, what is one attraction (touristy or non-touristy) that they absolutely must check out?
Well, Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream, of course! The tidepools in Cabrillo are always refreshing to hang out around. I grew up loving tidepools, so this is a must do for me. There are many many nice hiking trails in San Diego as well. Really, everyone should check out the diversity and charisma of all the neighborhoods in San Diego: North Park, Hillcrest, Little Italy, Gaslamp, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Golden Hills, etc. Each area is unique in its own way offering different cuisines and experiences and I think this would be the best way for someone to truly experience San Diego.
10. What’s your personal preference for holding ice cream: cup, cake cone, or waffle cone?
It depends on the flavor. For example, I love the fruity flavors in a cup, the chocolaty flavors on a Waffle Cone and some of the classic ones like Butter Pecan or Tahitian Vanilla on a cake cone. When I am eating ice cream with someone else, I pretty much always get a waffle flight to share.
11. Let’s say the President of the United States of America visits your store and wants a six-flavor ice cream flight, but he wants you to choose the flavors. Which six do you serve him?
Oh man, your questions really get into the heart of things! Tahitian Vanilla (something ordinary, easy to please everyone, yet satisfying), Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut (it really brings out the Hawaiian flavors and President Obama IS from Hawaii), Chocolate Peanut Butter Oreos (a total guy’s flavor, and really really delicious), Blueberry Cheesecake (Fruity, yet still savory with chunks of cheesecake), Birthday Cake (because his job is so stressful, ice cream with tons of yellow cake, frosting and sprinkles might help lighten the load), and POG (Pineapple-Orange-Guava) Sorbet (everyone needs to try our sorbets–they are dairy free, but bursting with all natural fruit flavors). I think the President would like this, as it would bring him back to his days in Hawaii.
Huge thanks to Trang for chatting with us! If you’re in San Diego, definitely stop by Hammond’s for an ice cream cone…or thirty-two.
Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream
North Park: 3077 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104
Pacific Beach: 1418 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109
Point Loma: Coming Soon!