Ah, San Francisco. I had a lovely time there - thanks for asking, running commentary in my head! One of the places I was most excited to try was the Twirl & Dip truck, heralded as the best soft serve ice cream in America. I love soft serve ice cream, and while I've had some that was marginally better than others, I've never had any that was like, "This is far and away better than a McDonald's Vanilla Cone."
That is, until I tried Twirl & Dip! We had a nice little stroll through Golden Gate Park, as evidenced by these photos of my greatest foe, the outdoors:
Shudder. It's so...bright. In order to cajole me outside, I was informed that the Twirl & Dip truck was situated in Golden Gate Park, or rather, the very near outskirts of it. There was a massive line when we arrived on Labor Day weekend at about 4 pm, which is to be expected. It moved relatively quickly though, I mean - it is ice cream, so you really won't be waiting long.
I ordered a vanilla cone with dark chocolate TCHO dip, with an olive oil & sea salt sprinkle. Not only did it sound crazy delicious & right up my salty-sweet alley, it's also the most highly recommended item on the menu. Well, I didn't plump for the specially crafted sugar cone, so I didn't get the most highly recommended version. I did my own slightly cheaper variation using a cake cone. That being said, the sugar cones sure looked cool. They were sort of embossed with attractive retro patterning. As you can see the cake cone is plenty photogenic, with the big soft peak of ice cream coated in dark chocolate really taking center stage anyway.
So, onto the taste. Most soft serves are vanilla in name only, tasting mostly just sweet & milky. The better quality ones out there will taste the slightest bit vanilla, but never reaching the heights of say, a quality true vanilla ice cream.
I'm pleased to say that this vanilla soft serve tastes as strongly of vanilla as a high quality, natural vanilla bean ice cream. It's warm and sweet with rounded edges, just like the best vanillas. The chocolate dip is where this really shines, though. As a long time player in the salty-sweet game, I can tell you that this is a special mix. Dark chocolate which isn't too bitter, married to delicious flecks of mild sea salt - the olive oil just lends a bit of savory oomph & warmth to the proceedings. If you've ever tried a brownie made with olive oil, it's something a bit like that.
The price can quickly rack up on these cones, however. I believe mine was about $5.50, with the base soft serve & cone being $4.50 and an additional $1.50 for the dip. If you spring for the fancier cone, you're looking at a $7 soft serve. So, yeah - judge for yourself whether or not you think a real A+ soft serve experience is worth nearly $10, but I certainly felt that the $5 ball park was acceptable for such a perfect dipped cone. I'd convince someone else you're with to get that fancier homemade sugar cone, and just take a photo & a quick nibble before you dig into your delicious and cheaper option.