Tucked between Tamarindo and a “Coming Soon” sign is An’s Hatmakers, the most recent addition to the Del Mar Plaza. It is not, as the name suggests, a place to buy hats, but rather a charming gelato shop distinguished by its artisanal flavors and quaint atmosphere.
The menu is split between “here to stay” flavors like Leather (brown butter and chocolate chip cookie bits) and “rotational” options that change with the seasons, such as the Lunar New Year inspired Hanfu (grapefruit and pomegranate).
Rose, a senior at Torrey Pines High School who opted for a scoop of Hanfu, compared An’s to the Salt & Straw in One Paseo, another specialty ice cream shop. “Salt & Straw has a bigger variety, but I feel like this place’s [flavor] combinations make more sense,” Rose said.
The combination that surprised me the most was Canvas (olive oil and rosemary), one of the samples provided during the “flavor tour” that An’s encourages for new customers. As she handed it over, the shop attendant assured me, unprompted, that it wasn’t as awful as it sounded. Lo and behold, she was right. Canvas is a light and airy flavor that captures notes of olive oil and rosemary without being overpowering, and it is quite possibly my favorite of all the ones I tried.
“[The gelato] is a good texture, not too creamy or too icy,” said Baila, a high school student who misread the “brown butter” in the description for Leather as “brownie batter” but was pleasantly surprised by the real flavor’s subtlety.
For those with dietary restrictions, An’s offers several dairy-free options made with fruit and rice milk like Fascinator (strawberry) and Straw Hat (mango and passion fruit).
“It’s nice, it’s not overwhelming. It’s a good mix of sweet and citrusy,” said Brenda, a vegan who ordered Straw Hat. She noted that many sorbets she’s tried tend to air on the sugary side, but this one was light enough to be refreshing.
As is the case with most specialty foods, the prices at An’s are higher than what you could expect from the grocery store. The smallest size, which holds roughly a half cup of ice cream, is priced at $6.00 a scoop. However, the students I interviewed and I agreed that the portions contain just the right amount of gelato: enough to savor but not enough to overpower.
“It’s a great treat for every once in a while. I’d definitely consider coming here again for a special occasion,” Rose said.