Looking something like the love child of Pee-Wee Herman and Willy Wonka, Toy Boat is a quirky ice cream parlor, old-fashioned soda fountain, eclectic toy store and a latter-day neighborhood institution, occupying the same corner location on Clement Street in the Inner Sunset as it has for more than two decades, an integral part of the vital, multi-generational, culturally diverse community.
Wall-to-wall eye candy greets the customer upon entering. Look down and at counter level you’ll see bucket after bucket of frozen delights in a cornucopia of flavors—salted caramel, lychee, coffee crunch, perennially popular flavors like cherry and ultra chocolate, seasonal favorites like pumpkin spice, and many more.
Look up and you’ll see shelves full of toys, both vintage and contemporary, lining the walls—action figures, mechanical wind-ups, model planes. an army of PEZ dispensers, and a plastic and vinyl historical timeline represented by everyone from the Flintstones to the Simpsons, all overseen by Butterscotch the electric horse. Even potential competitors like Big Boy and the Pillsbury Dough Boy have a place in the hierarchy of playthings. It’s an inclusive kind of atmosphere.
Look straight ahead and you’ll appreciate the light-hearted décor or come face to face with the staff, known as scoopers, who are taller, less colorful, and considerably more casually dressed than the average Oompa Loompa.
A Dessert Cafe, Toy Boat serves Double Rainbow ice cream in all its shapes and forms: scooped, covered by chocolate, nuts, whip cream, bananas or other toppings in sundaes, bobbing in floats, liquefied in milkshakes, sandwiched between two cookies, or simply perched precariously atop cones. The café offers many vegan varieties of frozen desserts as well as gluten-free cookies for those customers with such dietary restrictions. There’s also a breakfast menu and other café fare like sandwiches and coffee, but the savory items are not what keeps customers coming back. Just ask anyone holding a spoon.
Explorer J. Eric Miller crash-landed on the alien world of San Francisco in the last millennium. Trapped in a world he never imagined, he seeks escape in his experience of living. Read more about it at: theupsanddownsofsanfrancisco.tumblr.com