You can only spend so much time in a city this sunny and warm before you need a scoop of ice cream, stat. L.A.’s best ice cream shops are a reflection of its dining culture: high-quality ingredients and unusual flavor combinations that change with the seasons. These are the local shops scooping ice cream that you won’t find anywhere outside of Los Angeles.
Sweet Rose Creamery
There’s always a list of seasonal sorbets and ice creams at Sweet Rose Creamery that are plucked straight from the produce stands at the farmers markets. Alongside Sweet Rose cult favorites like salted caramel and fresh mint chip (made with flecks of mint leaves), look for unique flavor combos like thyme-roasted fig with pine nuts and lemon chamomile. This is small-batch ice cream, and that means you have to get it while you can.
7565 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
On any given day, the freezer at Scoops has a wide spectrum of tasty selections, from riffs on classics (think salty chocolate, Turkish coffee) to the off-beat (ricotta Oreo, kabocha cinnamon sugar, banana wasabi) to the never-seen-before/what-could-that-possibly-taste-like? Flavor in point: its most popular, brown bread. Try it. You’ll love it.
3400 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034
Before the age of small-batch and artisanal ice cream, Mashti Malone’s was scooping exotic flavors Baskin-Robbins could only dream about. Persian ice cream is the specialty at Mashti Malone’s. Go out on a limb and order a scoop of rosewater ice cream, herbal snow, or orange blossom with pistachio—or at least sample a few before you commit to a scoop of mint chip. The shop can be hard to find—it’s in a nondescript Hollywood shopping center, but keep an eye out for the old neon sign.
1525 N. La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Because no L.A. ice cream round-up would be complete without the inclusion of a frozen yogurt spot. Purists, resist the need to protest—Magpies is the real deal. The Silver Lake shop was dreamed up by its founders to be a, in their words, “chef-y Diary Queen.” And indeed they did. Everything is made in house, including the toppings, which include inventive options like butterscotch rice krispies, graham cracker streusel, and chocolate-covered honeycomb, which is vegan, naturally.
2660 Griffith Park Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039
And the winner of most Instagrammable sweets goes to… Wanderlust, of course. The Atwater Village creamery specializes in scoops and bars so gorgeous it’s almost hard to eat them. Their chosen ingredients are inspired by travel and are often electric in color, like the sakura blossom bar dipped in green matcha and dredged in strawberry pearls, or their butter-colored scoops of orange water baklava topped with pistachio crumbles. A treat for the eye, and the tastebuds.
3134 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039
Carmela Ice Cream Co.
If you find yourself exploring the eastern reaches of Los Angeles, head to Carmela Ice Cream Co. in Pasadena. The outfit prides itself on its use of farmers market ingredients that vary from season to season. Summer means heaps of cantaloup sorbet, strawberry buttermilk ice cream, and, as always, their salted caramel is a year-round treat that’s not to be missed.
2495 E Washington Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104
Photo courtesy of Amy Shamblen