Eating + Drinking

The Definitive Guide to L.A. Ice Cream

Photo courtesy of Salt & Straw

It’s ice cream paradise in this city, and we’ve got everything from ice cream theater to ice cream trucks, plus shops, classics, oddballs, one-offs, vegan, churned to order, globally inspired, and/or superlocal ingredients growing on the same land for more than a century. Can’t decide where to go or what to get? Here’s our scoop on the definitive guide to ice cream in Los Angeles.

Photo courtesy of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams/Facebook

Jeni’s Ice Cream
A beloved import from Columbus, Ohio. Delight in its roster of flavors, from the gourmet—goat cheese with red cherries and Riesling poached pear sorbet—to the simply pleasurable—strawberry buttermilk and churro. Jeni’s does an admirable job of making anyone feel like a kid again. TRY: A scoop of  sweet cream biscuits and peach jam in a house-made waffle cone, topped with Jeni’s hand-whipped cream. You’ll be able to taste those sweet Georgia peaches that have been growing on the same land for more than 130 years. 1954 Hillhurst Avenue

Photo by Leela Cyd Ross/Courtesy of Salt & Straw

Salt & Straw
The gourmet ice cream shops to out-gourmet all other gourmet ice cream shops. This PDX culinary export spares no creativity in its scoops. Think: black olive brittle and goat cheese, duck crackling with cherry preserves, and salty malted chocolate chip cookie dough. TRY: Any of its seasonal berry flavors, but our favorite is getting a taste of award-winning Laura Chenel Chèvre in a scoop of the spicy-jammy goat cheese marionberry habañero. Multiple locations throughout Los Angeles

Pazzo Gelato
Sunset Junction’s trusty gelateria, offering smooth-as-silk gelato and sorbetto, featuring flavors like toasted almond fig, roasted butternut squash, chocolate chipotle, prickly pear, buttered brown sugar with candied bacon, and persimmon, in those cute little flower-shaped cups with tiny paddlelike spoons. A great place to sit outside and people-watch. TRY: Vegan dark butterscotch (if you’re lucky enough to pop in when it’s available!) or a refreshing scoop of Thai iced tea. 3827 West Sunset Boulevard

Photo courtesy of Cocobella Creamery/Facebook

Cocobella Creamery
Cocobella Creamery offers totally gluten-free and vegan coconut-based ice cream in a variety of fun and creative flavors. TRY: The rich Cookie Monsta ice cream in a gluten-free waffle cone or a float with your choice of root beer, kombucha, or cold brew. 1253 Vine Street #12

Photo courtesy of Ample Hills Creamery/Facebook

Ample Hills Creamery
In case you thought Los Feliz couldn’t handle another ice cream shop, this Brooklyn-based outfit proved everyone wrong. It fits right in with its charming bungalow with hand-painted murals, a porch swing, and a custom stationary bike for churning ice cream. The flavors run the gamut from Ooey Gooey Butter Cake; Munchies with clusters of crackers, pretzels, and potato chips; and a signature L.A. horchata flavor called Beneath Las Estrellas, inspired by the Griffith Observatory. There’s room in this house for classes and ice cream socials, too. TRY: Cross off a few meals with a double scoop of fan-favorite Breakfast TrashCap’n Crunch, Frosted Flakes, and Corn Pops–infused ice cream mixed with Fruity Pebbles and Froot Loops. 1824 Hillhurst Avenue

Photo courtesy of Wanderlust Creamery/Facebook

Wanderlust filters travel inspiration through a rainbow prism of Technicolor ice creams (and above-par dairy-free treats). Traverse the world through a scoop of Sticky Rice and Mango or Abuelita Malted Crunch on a violet-tinted ube cone, topped with fennel crystals or candied rose. TRY: A scoop of the signature ube malted crunch flavor paired with one of the rotating global foodie-inspired flavorscan’t go wrong with whatever you choose! Vegans, get the Gianduja, Italian decadence in the form of frozen cacao and hazelnut paste. 3134 Glendale Boulevard

Organic, vegan, gluten-free soft serve ice cream and gluten-free waffle cones, too. It’s a miracle made even more miraculous by inventive and rich flavors vegans rarely get treated to. Toppings include mochi, vegan gummy bears, fresh seasonal fruit, and even hard-shell chocolate. TRY: True tahini topped with the house-made chocolate shell. Multiple locations in Los Angeles

Photo courtesy of Milk Bar

Milk Bar
Bringing her famed cereal ice cream, compost cookies, and Crack Pie to Los Angeles, Christina Tosi didn’t just stop at the sweets. With savory buns filled with Langer’s pastrami and a Dole Whip–inspired dessert, it’s more fun than the N.Y. original. Plus, the colorful bakery and shop, with its light-and-breezy West Coast vibe, features a classroom where you can learn to make it all yourself. Don’t forget the super-Instagrammable cake wall outside. TRY: Bring out the kid inside you with Cereal Milk soft serve topped with rainbow sprinkles. 7150 Melrose Avenue

Photo courtesy of Fosselman’s Ice Cream/Facebook

Fosselman’s Ice Cream Co.
Fosselman’s—run by third-generation ice cream makers—family recipe has been the same since it opened in 1919. This old-fashioned parlor serves upwards of 40 flavors of ice cream, sorbet, and sherbet and mixes traditional flavors, like butter pecan, mint chip, and strawberry, with new ones such as macupuno, taro, and lychee to match L.A.’s diverse clientele. TRY: A green apple sorbet soda or a banana split with banana walnut, brown butter, and cinnamon ice creams. 1824 West Main Street, Alhambra

Photo courtesy of Coolhaus/Facebook

Women-owned Coolhaus took off after towing its first bare-bones ice cream truck to Coachella a decade ago, quickly gaining a following for its customizable “cool house” ice cream sandwiches. When you visit the storefront or mobile truck locations today, make sure to read all the curious flavors: L’eggo My Eggo, Beer & Pretzels, Fried Chicken & Waffles, Honeycomb, and Cuban Cigar, and get it expertly smooshed between a handful of chewy cookie options, all neatly presented in an edible wrapper. TRY: An ice cream sandwich made with Fast Food (vanilla ice cream, chocolate malt balls, and french fry crispies) on a Snack Food Chip cookie (corn flakes, pretzels, and potato chips) for the ultimate IDGAF treat. And if the seasonal Fast Food ice cream isn’t available, sub with the salted chocolate. 8588 Washington Boulevard, Culver City

Photo courtesy of Honeymee SoCal/Facebook

Keeping the ice cream game über-specialized, Honeymee fills the niche of serving California milk ice cream topped with local certified bee-farm raw honey. Get your soft serve straight up in a cup; nonpurists can choose a milkshake flavor. TRY: The Sweetie, a true milk ice cream drizzled generously with natural honey. Multiple locations throughout Los Angeles

Photo courtesy of SuperCool Creamery/Facebook

SuperCool Creamery
Aptly named, this magic show–like presentation creates ice cream by mixing ingredients with an ultrafast nitrogen freezing process (no freezers here!) that produces fresh, creamy, smooth ice cream instantly. Have your pick of a dozen rotating flavors, choose your toppings, and watch the show as your treat is created with smoke and cream on the spot. TRY: Vanilla ice cream mixed with chocolate cookies for possibly the freshest cookies and cream flavor ever. 4469 Sunset Drive

Small Batch Ice Cream
Small Batch is the latest addition to Playa Provisions, a group of beachy culinary spots co-owned by Brooke Williamson and Nick Roberts, in the family-friendly Mar Vista neighborhood. The shop focuses on creating artisanal ice cream in a variety of formats: scoops, soft serve, ice cream cakes, and Popsicles. TRY: White chocolate malt ice cream with almond butter topping or a banana cream pie ice cream milkshake. 12222 Venice Boulevard

Photo by Sayaka Ueno

Van Leeuwen
Founded in Brooklyn, Van Leeuwen turns out rich, fresh ice cream—classic and vegan—using minimal ingredients without any stabilizers or fillers. Come to this pastel, graphically pleasing shop to satisfy your craving for rich, decadent flavors that need no explanation. TRY: Vegan Sicilian pistachio with vegan chocolate sauce or ginger ice cream on a cone topped with candied ginger. Multiple locations throughout Los Angeles

Photo courtesy of Midori Matcha & Café/Facebook

Midori Matcha & Café
This minimalist downtown L.A. all-things matcha café starts with a star ingredient that is organic, ceremonial grade, stone-ground, and grown in Japan. Among the variety of matcha-enhanced foods, standouts include the matcha soft serve, sundaes with fruit puree toppings, and granitas. TRY: Matcha and black sesame soft serve swirl lightly dusted with fine matcha powder. 123 Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Street, Suite 101-C

Photo by Reene N. via Yelp

Ginger’s Divine Ice Cream
inside a former Culver City house, Ginger’s neighborhood-y creamery uses locally grown and sourced ingredients for its scoops, gelato bars, to-go pints packed in Mason jars, and daily scratch-made cookies and brownies. Get a taste of California with flavors like L.A. Mill cold brew coffee, vegan chocolate covered strawberry & freckled chocolate, organic roasted grapes & rosemary goat cheese, and tart cherry almond pie. TRY: A mango divine pop dipped in chocolate or a scoop of chocolate-covered marzipan in a sugar cone. 12550 West Washington Boulevard

Courtesy of Smitten Ice Cream/Facebook

Smitten Ice Cream
Smitten’s made-to-order ice cream is made in a patented “Brrr” machine developed by Smitten founder Robyn Sue Fisher. The ice cream freezes instantly with liquid nitrogen and results in a fresh, super creamy scoop. Flavors change pretty frequently and are made with seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. TRY: Sweet summer corn in a waffle cone—pure simplicity. 850 South Sepulveda Boulevard, El Segundo

Photo courtesy of Afters Ice Cream/Facebook

This SoCal ice cream shop may seem like a dime a dozen, but it still pulls its weight. Its famed Milky Bunice cream heat sealed inside of a doughnutis much loved IRL and on social media, and its new Cloud 9 Conenine mini scoops of the most popular flavors in one coneis sure to trend as well. TRY: A double scoop of chocolate malted milkshake & Madagascar vanilla ice cream topped with its crispy fries. Multiple locations throughout Los Angeles

Photo courtesy of Fatamorgana Gelato/Facebook

Fatamorgana Gelato
This popular Roman gelateria recently opened up shop in Los Angeles, proving that there is always room for dessert, especially when there are at least 60 daily flavors, including two dozen vegan options. With that many flavors, we’re fans of doing a bit of research beforehand on Fatmorgana’s website. Pick a food category (honey, wines, and spirits; fresh fruit; nuts and dried fruit—the list goes on). Next, refine your choice by selecting one ingredient (red rum, cherries, walnut kernels, and more). Voilà! The site will reveal all of the flavors made with your specifics. TRY: Salted Torrone (the traditional European almond nougat dessert in a gelato form), ricotta cheese and citrus (ricotta with Cointreau), Madagascar chocolate (ultradark, slightly fruity chocolate), or salted tomato, for a more savory treat. 12021 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City 

Little Damage
Little Damage’s neon signs make for a perfect photo backdrop for its signature black cones. And it’s more than just Instagram friendlythis light and creamy homemade soft serve swirled inside of freshly rolled activated charcoal black cones is tasty, too, and doesn’t leave you feeling full. TRY: Coffee caramel in a black cone, for ice cream goth mode. 700 South Spring Street

Mashti Malone’s
This L.A. classic has been scooping up Persian ice cream and sorbets for more than 40 years. So well-known it doesn’t even have a website, its floral and perfumed flavors like rosewater, saffron, and orange blossom have a cult following. Mashti Malone’s also serves soda fountain staples butter pecan, chocolate chip, and rainbow sherbet, among others, but do yourself a favor and top them with the complimentary bitter lemon and cherry syrups waiting for you at your table. TRY: You’re here, so go for itthe Mashti special is a saffron rosewater ice cream sandwiched between house-made wafers, rolled in pistachios. Or for a vegan and gluten-free treat, get the Faludeh, rosewater sorbet topped with rice noodles. Add the cherry syrup at your leisure. 1525 North La Brea Avenue

Photo courtesy of McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream/Facebook

McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams
McConnell’s began churning ice cream in California in 1949 and still continues today, making creamy traditional treats by scratch and keeping current with flavors like Eureka Lemon with Marionberries, Churros Con Leche, and Honey & Cornbread Cookies. Turn these proven scoops out on a cone or into a float, milkshake, or sundae. TRY: Earl Grey Tea and Shortbread Cookies on a cone or a Cold Brew Turkish Coffee ice cream float. Multiple locations throughout Los Angeles

Photo courtesy of Gelateria Uli/Facebook

Gelateria Uli
With flavors wholly dependent on what’s special at the farmers’ markets that week, you know you’re always getting something inspired and fresh at this small-batch, handmade shop. Located in an unassuming storefront in the Spring Arcade Building, it’s easy to overlook, but definitely don’t—this spot regularly makes best-of lists with its smooth and heavenly gelato and sorbet. TRY: The indescribably delicious beet tarragon gelato or the delicate and romantic pear rose sorbet. Spring Arcade Building, 541 South Spring Street, #104 

Photo courtesy of Sweet Rose Creamery/Facebook

Sweet Rose Creamery
Sweet Rose makes small batches of organic ice cream daily in its Santa Monica kitchen, with seasonally inspired flavors often based on the day’s finds at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market. Flavors rotate monthly, but the half a dozen or so sundae options are year-round, for you to mix and match. TRY: The Grasshopper Sundae: mint chip ice cream, hot fudge, chocolate cone pieces, and whipped cream. Vegans, go for a scoop of the seasonal sorbet, like stone fruit or mixed berry. Multiple locations throughout Los Angeles

Photo courtesy of Humphry Slocombe/Facebook

Humphry Slocombe
This artisanal ice cream shop that started in San Francisco combines a love for irreverent humor with ice cream to create seemingly usual flavors that have a cult following. It is best known for its signature flavor, Secret Breakfast, a bourbon ice cream with corn flakes, but the monthly flavors and toppings really nail the punch line. TRY: The Summer Corn with BBQ Bourbon Caramel ice cream, topped with its bottled Bourbon Caramel Sauce (and get a jar to go for your late-night cravings and morning coffee!). 1653B Abbot Kinney Boulevard

Photo courtesy of Magpies Soft Serve

Magpies Soft Serve
Creamy, airy soft serve that’s not too sweet, in a variety of gourmet flavors that rotate regularly—if you see it on Magpies’s Instagram and you want it, come and get it or you might have to forever hold your peace. This place is paradise, especially for vegans, with coconut-, cashew-, and rice-based offerings that are as creative as they come. TRY: Everyday options include a malted milk chocolate (dairy) and corn almond (vegan) that elevate the classics and are always a good bet, but it’s a great place to get experimental with seasonal offerings such as horchata and Mexican hot chocolate (get them swirled) or caramel popcorn. Another can’t miss: a slice of soft-serve pie, with a cookie crust and topped with dreams. 2660 Griffith Park Boulevard

Carmela Ice Cream & Sorbet
This creamery started off by selling its artisanal ice cream at local farmers’ markets. You’ll still find it at local markets (in addition to its own shops), and Carmela continues to make handmade ice cream, using seasonal farmers’ market produce to create flavors like strawberry buttermilk, Meyer lemon olive oil, carrot orange ginger sorbet, and lemon verbena vanilla bean. Also! Carmela offers ice cream– and sorbet-making classes, a great gift for your ice cream–loving pal. TRY: Blackberry vanilla bean sorbet, rose petal ice cream (if available!), or dark chocolate cacao nib. 7920 West Third Street