How many high-end frozen yogurt stores can one town sustain before it reaches critical mass and the entire community is consumed by fire and brimstone, a la Sodom and Gomorrah? Over the past few years, our charming town of Palo Alto has been actively engaged in trying to answer that question. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if a frozen yogurt store opened in the bathroom of an existing frozen yogurt store.
Confused about the sheer number of choices but value your spare time too much to try them all? Don’t worry. I’ve done it for you.
The good: Yogurtland has an abundance of flavor and topping options. Ever wanted pistachio fro-yo? Check. Need moon fruit and cheesecake chunks on top of that? Check. How about seven sauces or a sketchy mix of all 16 flavor options? I’m not a math major, but I am fairly sure that the number of permutations of flavors and toppings available at Yogurtland is enough to please just about anyone.
The bad: Why is Yogurtland so cheap? I guess this one kind of qualifies as a “plus” for Yogurtland, but it is a little unnerving when they only charge you $2.50 for literally a bucket-sized serving of frozen yogurt. They’ve got to be cutting corners somewhere…
Remember in the ‘90s when frozen yogurt was an icky last resort at an airport terminal rather than the uber-trendy refuge of Atherton soccer moms on weird probiotic crash diets? Yogurt Stop harkens back to those early days of frozen yogurt, when it was an underground, nerdy-cool dessert alternative. So it’s kind of like the Death Cab for Cutie of the frozen yogurt world. I like to get the cookies and cream variety topped with M&Ms–ironically, of course.
Fraiche is kind of the grande dame of the Palo Alto frozen yogurt scene. It’s been on the scene sort of long, as far as trendy yogurt shops go–since 2007. And having grown beyond its original outpost in downtown Palo Alto to locations on campus at Tresidder and on San Francisco’s trendy Filmore Street, Fraiche has established a strong brand presence across the Bay Area as the leading purveyor of artisanal frozen yogurt.
The hype is in many ways justified. Fraiche’s founders, Patama Roj and Jessica Gilmartin, are Palo Alto natives who take pains to make batches of yogurt from scratch and on-site in the original Palo Alto store. The result is yogurt at its most fundamental: crisp, tart, and not too fussy. Add on any of the ridiculously nice toppings (fresh fruit, Valrhona chocolate, etc.) and you have the ultimate in yuppie snacking.
Added bonus, as if you needed one: Mark Zuckerberg is a fan. “Like.”
Remember those Atherton soccer moms on probiotic crash diets? Yeah, they are fueled by nothing but Pinkberry. You deserve better. That is, unless you’re really into salted caramel flavored frozen yogurt, Pinkberry’s one redeeming quality.
I actually might be the only human being who goes to Culture. Literally. I have never heard of anyone else going here. It opened my freshman year and is mysteriously still in business now that I am a senior. Are the owners just using it as the front for an organized crime syndicate?
Regardless, this place is actually really excellent. With a little bit less creamy consistency than Fraiche, the yogurt at Culture feels lighter and packs in more tartness. Add on some of their fresh, interesting topping choices (nectarines!) and you get the most underrated frozen yogurt in the Palo Alto area.