L.A.’s best ice cream shops
On hot days, Afters Ice Cream may have lines around the block at each of their stores, but for good reason: Their milky buns filled with ice cream and sprinkled with crazy toppings are as addictive as they are delicious. Choose from handcrafted ice cream flavors like cookie monster, banana walnut fudge and jasmine milk tea. (Pssssst—hey, vegans: There are vegan buns and ice cream flavors here, too.)
Fans flock to this perpetually packed emporium for “snow cream”: Hawaiian shaved ice meets ice cream in layers of icy ribbons. Start with a base flavor from original and black sesame to seasonal mango and avocado, then choose your own adventure with toppings like boba, brownie bites and “drizzles” such as condensed milk and chocolate sauce. The blackboard menu guides you through the build-a-bowl process and lists favorite house combos. We love green tea snow cream with red bean, chewy mocha (rice cakes) and sweet condensed milk.
The ever-popular Carmela—which is also sold in a few specialty food shops around L.A.—rides the locavore trend by incorporating fresh herbs and seasonal fruit into flavors like rose petal or spiced strawberry sorbet. Three locations—Pasadena, Beverly Grove and Woodland Hills—offer sweet-toothed Angelenos the chance to sample a few favorites before choosing a flavor (or two) to be placed atop a cone or wedged between two cookies for an ice cream sandwich.
This popular, architecturally-themed ice cream sandwich truck and brick-and-mortars take their name from famed Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas—fitting, as you can build some great creations here. Construct your own “cool house” with tasty, creative ice cream flavors such as fried chicken and waffles or cherry cheesecake, sandwiched between a variety of housemade cookies. Locals and nearby families stop in for a post-dinner icy treat or sit down to Blue Bottle–spiked hot chocolate beverages.
Despite a move to its current Alhambra location in 1974, this family-owned parlor, which makes all of its ice cream from scratch, has been around since 1919, and the quality shines through. The only downside: Once you’ve tasted winning flavors like rum raisin, mocha almond fudge, Dutch chocolate and taro, you’ll likely feel compelled to buy a half-gallon tub to take home for when future cravings strike.
This family-run operation is one of the Valley’s best ice cream shops, piling scoops of house-made, organic sorbets and ice creams into waffle cones and freshly-hollowed coconuts. Flavors rotate daily, but you can almost always find the lucuma—a fruit-based ice cream with natural nut notes—as well as the raw cacao.
James Beard Award-winning author Jeni Britton Bauer is extending her Ohio roots to Los Angeles with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. The shops—now in Venice and Los Feliz—offer an ecclectic choice of more than 20 flavors, including options such whiskey and pecan, and riesling-poached-pear sorbet. Looking for something traditional-leaning? Even the Milkiest Chocolate in the World is killer. If there isn’t something on the signature menu, the limited-edition menu will surely have options that catch your attention.
In case you thought Los Angeles needed more artisanal ice cream, Magpies has arrived with flavors such as green tea brown rice, Cuban espresso, and horchata. But in this case, we’re talking soft serve only, and L.A. could definitely use more of Magpies’ kind. Top your twist with house-made charred marshmallows, toffee rice krispies, spicy candied pecans and a bevy of other crumbled, sprinkled and sticky accessories. Bonus: Those looking for vegan flavors will always find a handful; we’re all about the cornflake.
Forget the vanilla: At Mashti Malone’s in Hollywood, you’ll find delicately perfumed Persian ice cream in exotic flavors such as rosewater saffron, orange blossom, creamy mango and herbal snow. Don’t miss the bitter lemon and cherry syrups on the tables, meant to be drizzled on top.
Founded in Santa Barbara, McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams has made the jump to L.A. at Grand Central Market and in Studio City and Los Feliz, and for that we are eternally grateful. Where else would you find a scoop of salted caramel so decadent it should be illegal? Where else could you get flavors like cardamom and Swedish gingersnaps? McConnell’s, you make us melt.
See the best ice cream shops in America
Whether you like oddball flavors or your taste is more vanilla, get your frozen fix at these top ice cream shops, from classic parlors to new-wave purveyors