Food review: Popbar

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Food review: Popbar

Vanessa Qin

Well, the hype from SoCal’s Anaheim packing district has finally arrived to the Bay Area. Popbar, a small ice cream franchise for “handcrafted gelato on a stick”, nestled its way into San Jose this February, not too far from Westgate Mall.

I’ve seen countless photos of these chocolate dipped and drizzled topping covered gelato bars all over Instagram, Facebook and Yelp and decided to give this place a try. Overall, the shop is quite small with just a bar by the window for seating. Although the place is rather simply decorated, the furniture, painted walls and warm lights give off a welcoming vibe.

#Popbar on Instagram”

In addition to the classic Popgelato, Popsorbetto and Yogurtpop combinations like Ferrero Rocher and Green Tea Kit Kat, you can create your own Popbar. Other frozen treats such as shakes and frozen hot chocolates are also available, but I opted to create my own edible wallet-drainer.

I created a Popbar with banana Popgelato, hazelnuts, dark chocolate dip and drizzle. It came out to $5.43. I was hoping to get a cute half-dipped ice cream bar I could photograph against a pretty background that would make paying almost $6 worth it, but sadly my banana bar came already full-dipped and ended up looking like a fancier version of one of those Häagen-Dazs ice cream bars that your parents buy in boxes of 15 from Costco for $12.


Banana gelato, hazelnut, dark chocolate dip and drizzle Popbar from the new Saratoga location. A tasty but overpriced frozen treat. Photo by Vanessa Qin.

Looks aside, the ice cream bar itself was alright, but the full dip of chocolate was too rich for my personal taste; if I were to come back, I’d definitely go with a flavor that allows for a half dip. The gelato had a strong banana flavor that went well with the hazelnut. I mean, it was good, but not worth the hype. I honestly probably would have better satisfied my sweet tooth if I had spent half the amount of money on a McFlurry right next door.

After seeing four stars through 132 reviews on Yelp and a single dollar sign rating, I’ll admit I held my expectations rather high — maybe a little too high, because I came in expecting a revolutionary dessert. In the end, Popbar offered me a simple and cute but overpriced treat. If you’re there just for the pretty half-dips and drizzles, I’d say it’s worth it to go once just to try it out, but I wouldn’t place it at the top of my list of summer cool-down spots.