The Best Ice Cream In Los Angeles
Here in sunny SoCal, there's no shortage of sweet scoops to help keep you cool. But what differentiates the best from the rest? Attention to the seasons, the use of quality ingredients, a dreamy and creamy texture, creative mix-ins, and just the right amount of sweetness are the things that catch our attention. Here are our favorite spots to get ice cream in Los Angeles, and as always, let us know your favorites in the comments.
Photo courtesy of McConnell's on Facebook
Though McConnell's might be the new kid on the block when it comes to the local ice cream scene, the Santa Barbara creamery has been at it for 70 years. They make all of their ice creams in Santa Barbara at what they call The Old Dairy with no fillers, substitutes or additives, and make all of the additional flavorings, jams, crumbles, and coffees in house. The island coconut and Turkish coffee are our two personal favorites because of their balanced sweetness and incredibly luxurious texture, but the churros con leche sounds pretty darn delicious too.
McConnell's is located at Grand Central Market at 317 S Broadway, Los Angeles
This shop started out selling at farmers markets in 2007, and has since grown to have two locations in L.A.: one in Pasadena and one in Mid-City. They make their ice cream based on whatever fruit is in season, adding in fresh herbs, spices, flowers, and organic dairy to make the scoop of your dreams. The texture is smooth and not at all icy. Their delicate, floral rose petal flavor is wonderful for adventurous palates, and the earl grey is lovely for tea aficionados. For those after the classics, we recommend the strawberry buttermilk, which is even better when sandwiched between two of their shortbread cookies.
Carmela is located at 2495 E Washington Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 797-1405
Scoops always satisfies our craving for farfetched flavors. Brown bread ice cream? Black tea sesame? Pinot noir, cherry and peppermint all on one miniature, neon-colored spoon? That's just a typical day at Scoops. Make sure to try the most unimaginable flavor combination in the frosty case when you visit; the shops are extremely generous with the free tastes, so sample away until you find your perfect match. All ice cream is made fresh daily, and there are non-dairy and vegan options, too.
Scoops is located at 3400 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, (323) 405-7055; 712 N Heliotrope Dr., East Hollywood, (323) 906-2649; 5105 York Blvd., Highland Park; and 727 N Broadway, Chinatown
Photo courtesy of Sweet Rose Creamery on Facebook
Sweet Rose Creamery
It's hard not to turn into a fangirl for everything Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan do. The two opened Rustic Canyon, Huckleberry Café, and Milo & Olive, and most recently delved into the ice cream biz. They now have three locations in the Brentwood Country Mart, Mid-City, and Santa Monica where you can find their small-batch ice creams that are made by executive chef Shiho Yoshikawa using organic ingredients and local farmers market produce. The ice creams are never too sweet, and range from the classic old-fashioned vanilla to earl grey with ginger and honey. They also do a s'mores pie. 'Nuff said.
Sweet Rose Creamery is located at 7565 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, (310) 260-2663
Though gelato and ice cream are made by quite different processes—gelato typically uses less eggs and lower fat dairy, and usually has less air whipped into it—it would be ridiculous not to mention Bugarini in a local ice cream roundup. Leo Bulgarini and Elizabeth Foldi know what they're doing when it comes to this Italian-styled scoop. They use milk from nearby Montebello, pistachios from the motherland, and other locally-sourced ingredients to make what most consider the best gelato in town. Their artisan shop in Altadena is open during their renovation, but you can also still visit their second location in Culver City.
Photo by Krista Simmons/LAist
Salt & Straw
Cousins Kim and Tyler Malek's Portland-based creamery, Salt & Straw, has become well-known for their small-batch seasonal scoops. They launched a Larchmont Village shop, where the Maleks are partnering with local farmers, producers, chefs, distillers, brewers and butchers from Southern California to the Central Coast, collaborating on flavors including Santa Ynez Valley Walnut Oil, Stumptown Coffee & Compartes Love Nuts, Tomato Water & Ojai Olive Oil Sherbet and Black Olive Brittle & Goat Cheese.
Salt & Straw is located at 240 N Larchmont Blvd., Larchmont Village, (323) 466-0485
Coolhaus started out as a food truck and sold so many sandwiches that they opened up shops in Culver City and Pasadena. Their parlors are known for selling unexpected flavors like Guinness Chip, Chicken and Waffles, and Lucky Charms—all given architecturally-inspired names, of course. Scoops can be sandwiched between your favorite freshly baked cookies for a super sweet treat. They've recently launched a line of ice cream bars that are pretty fantastic. But the real show-stopper is their Norman Bananas Foster sold by the pint. It's made with bananas caramelized in rum, then folded into decadent banana ice cream.
Coolhaus is located at 8588 W Washington Blvd, Culver City, (310) 424-5559; and 59 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, (310) 424-5559
Photo of Honeymee by Krista Simmons/LAist
Honeymee only has four items on the menu, the best of which is their namesake—a creamy vanilla soft serve ice cream swirled into a small plastic cup and then topped with a gooey chunk of fresh honeycomb. It's definitely an indulgence, but there's a levity to it that doesn't leave you feeling like a glutton who needs to hit the confessional afterwards. Its subtle floral honey and not-at-all-icy soft serve are sure to be the subject of your summer food fantasies. It's easy to see why this sweet treat has become such a hit in South Korea; it's the bees knees.
Honeymee is located at 3377 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown; and 18180 Colima Rd., Rowland Heights, (626) 810-4100
Mother Moo Creamery
Owner Karen Klemens scoops up organic ice cream and sells her homemade artisanal jams at Mother Moo, and shares the knowledge at the shop's regularly-occurring classes throughout the year. The ice cream and cones are made fresh daily in-house by the Master Food Preserver, who only uses the freshest natural ingredients. She's also a graduate of Penn State’s legendary Ice Cream Short Course, the oldest, best-known and largest educational program dealing with the science and technology of ice cream. Titles set aside, what stands out at Mother Moo is the flavor. Our favorite in both the jam and ice cream department is the strawberry. Klemens sources her fruit from McGrath Family Farms, whose berries are perfectly sweet with just the right amount of tartness.
Mother Moo Creamery is located at 17 Kersting Court, Sierra Madre, (626) 355-9650
Eds. Note: An earlier version incorrectly stated that Bulgarini Gelato's Altadena location is closed during construction, when in fact, it is open during construction. We've corrected that in our story, and also added that McConnell's will be open at Grand Central Market at the end of July. LAist regrets these errors.