SoCal's Best Frozen Desserts That Aren't Basic Ice Cream
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Ice cream is glorious but not all of us want the traditional dairy treat. In the spirit of counter-programming, and because it's probably going to be hot as hell this weekend (and well into the future), we found a few sweet, cold alternatives to ice cream. They're perfect for a long, hot summer of SoCal swimming pools and droolworthy social media shots.
HAWAIIAN SHAVED ICE
Remember those Snoopy snow cone makers from childhood? This is the grown-up version. Served in a large bowl or in a giant pile on a plate, the Hawaiian incarnation of this dessert is a mound of shaved ice doused with flavored syrups and sprinkled with toppings such as condensed milk and dried plums. Chichi Dango, also located at Smorgasburg LA, makes homemade syrups in flavor combos like passion fruit/strawberry and coconut/pineapple. They use no artificial ingredients and they top them with fruit puree, handmade mochi, and tapioca balls.
Smorgasburg LA: 787 S. Alameda St., downtown L.A.
TAIWANESE SHAVED ICE
Known as baobing, Taiwanese shaved ice is made by taking a large block of ice, usually flavored, shaving it into thin ribbons. It's a lighter, less sticky alternative to Hawaiian shaved ice. Baobing is often topped with condensed milk, red beans, rice cakes, tapioca pearls and jelly squares. Blockheads Shavery, with a location in West L.A. (the Alhambra one closed), markets their version as "Snow Cream." The most popular flavor is green tea ice but we're also big fans of black sesame.
11311 Mississippi Ave., West L.A.
Nothing found in the "wild" goes into a "wild cherry" Slurpee, which 7-Eleven was offering for free on (when else?) July 11th. It's fun to watch tongues turn bright red but it reminds us how many chemicals go into the stuff. Enter The Goods Mart, an organic Silver Lake bodega that's teamed up with Kelvin's Slush Co. to make an array of slushies you won't feel guilty about drinking. They're served in recyclable cups with paper straws or you can buy a reusable metal straw. We recommend the light pink "berries and peaches" flavor currently on tap.
3140 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake
These old school Mexican popsicles are a childhood staple for many Angelenos, whether they come from a store or a paletero in the park. Flor Michoacana is a family owned paleteria in Panorama City, where they offer queso and avocado paletas alongside more common varieties like coconut made with chunks of coconut shell frozen inside.
8111 Van Nuys Blvd., Panorama City
We're big fans of Mateo's, which started with one location near Culver City and has expanded to four outposts. Their popsicles come in fantastic flavors such as tamarind, jamaica, mango with chile and watermelon, to name a few. Not enough for you? They'll dip them in chocolate and sprinkle them with oppings. Mateo's also makes one of a kind ice creams like mamey, nuez (walnut) and leche quemada (burnt milk) in addition to the staples -- chocolate, coconut, strawberry.
4929 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver city
4234 W. Pico Blvd., Mid-City
11551 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.
1250 S. Vermont Ave., Pico Union
Originally from Brazil, acai bowls became popular in Hawaii years ago before jumping to the mainland. Acai is a small, South American stone fruit about the size of a grape and colored like a blueberry. The fruit is frozen and pureed then typically topped with fresh fruit, granola, coconut shavings and nut butter. Amazebowls makes gorgeous, Instagram-ready acai concoctions, served in a coconut shell. They're also insanely tasty, especially on a hot summer day.
300 S. Santa Fe St., Unit P., downtown L.A.
785 Bay St., downtown L.A.
United University Church Parking Lot: intersection of Jefferson and Hoover
55 S. Madison Ave., Pasadena
Studio City Farmers Market: 2052 Ventura Place, Studio City
If sorbet and shaved ice had a baby, it would be granita. This Italian dessert is made by pureeing blocks of frozen fruit, Recently opened Tropicane in Westminster offers granita bowls with a rotation of seasonal fruits and features unique options like blood orange and jackfruit. They top their bowls with both dehydrated and fresh fruits and ginger and mint. Tropicane also has a large selection of cane sugar juices that you can sip on their colorful deck or order from their drive-through.
10051 McFadden Ave., Westminster
Uncle Pops has been selling gourmet popcorn since 2013 and recently got into the business of freezing it in nitrogen. The result is so cold that it smokes when you blow on it, making a perfect Boomerang for your next Instastory. Until now, they've only offered it at night markets and catered events, but they just soft-opened their first store, in the same building where they make their popcorn. Founder Jason Shah sees it as a starter location. Uncle Pops will host its grand opening the week of July 30th, handing out free nitro-pop samples and bags of kettle corn.
1616 1/2 W. 134th St., Gardena
For those of us searching for a non-duck-based dessert, how about a slice of cheesecake that's been shoved on a stick, frozen, dipped in a hard, chocolate shell and covered in rainbow sprinkles. This is a great choice for eating and walking, especially in Newport Beach's Balboa Village. A few vendors sell it. The most famous is Balboa Bakery and Deli and Donuts.
706 E. Bay Ave., Newport Beach
If you can't make it to the (mostly) fictional Bluth's Banana Stand from "Arrested Development," three places on this list offer frozen bananas dipped in chocolate. Flor Michoacana's bananas have a thick, hard chocolate exterior and are served either plain or with peanuts. Balboa Bakery dips and tops their bananas the same way they do their frozen cheesecake. Tropicane offers the most unique take on the cold dessert. They use a thin layer of chocolate and lightly dust it with coconut shavings and almonds then serve it with a side of coconut cream dip.
Frozen yogurt and Dole Whips are two of our favorite soft serve options. Add Pressed Juicery's plant based soft serve, Freeze, to those ranks. Made entirely with fruit and nut bases, it has no preservatives and is naturally sweetened with fruits, nuts, dates and chia seeds, which means it has about half the calories of other soft serve treats. Toppings include almond butter, fresh fruit and himalayan sea salt. They pair well with flavors like date and cacao-based chocolate or apple juice-based mango turmeric.
Pressed Juicery Locations with Freeze
Venice: 1653A Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice
Glendale: Americana at Brand, 132 Caruso Avenue, Glendale
Brentwood: 13050 San Vicente Blvd., #120, Brentwood
Century City: 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 1315, Century City
Torrance: Del Amo Fashion Center, 21540 Hawthorne Blvd., Suite 428B, Torrance
Hollywood: 6201 Hollywood Blvd., #128, Hollywood
Calabasas: The Avanti, 23500 Park Sorrento, Calabasas
Mid City: The Grove, 189 The Grove Drive, K4, Mid City West
El Segundo: The Point, 850 S. Sepulveda Blvd., El Segundo
Tustin: 2348 Park Ave., Tustin
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