I scream, you scream, we all scream for craft ice cream. In LA, run-of-the-mill flavors and cones just aren’t cutting it. Why? Because our city is filled with ice cream parlors that have taken frozen treats to new heights. Artisanal ice cream is a real thing and the same way Angelenos are picky about their lattes, beaches and favorite juice bars, we’re picky about our parlors too. On a hot day, nothing says cool like a stop at one of the city’s super-hip ice cream shoppes for a scoop of unforeseen goodness.
With eclectic flavor options, heartwarming stories and cult followings ice cream has gone from a treat to an experience—undoubtedly worth the Instagram. So what’ll be?
Carmela Ice Cream
Carmela Ice Cream is what happens when a small idea turns into a big delicious deal. Couple Jessica and Zack decided to try their hand at artisan ice cream back in 2007 before it was even a “thing.” What came out of it was a favorite stop at the farmer’s market and flavors like Strawberry Buttermilk, Lemon Basil Sorbet, Lavender Honey, Salted Caramel and even a stout and molasses-laced Guinness flavor. Carmela is celebrated for its commitment to fresh produce, their relationships with local dairy farmers and the fact that all of their product is locally made (with love). All of that goodness comes through at any of their four locations throughout LA; but we have to admit, scoring our scoops from their vintage ice cream truck at the farmer’s market makes the Rose Petal ice cream—in a waffle cone of course—taste a little sweeter.
Salt & Straw
Beginning in Portland and landing in LA, Salt & Straw continues to take this town by storm. Started by cousins, Kim and Tyler, who share a mutual love for unique flavors and a cheerful experience. Each of their locations (five in LA alone), boasts a cool interior that goes hand-in-hand with the creativity of their flavors. And they don’t refer to locations as “ice cream shoppes;” instead they’re “scoop shops.” Showing off their signature red and white stripes upon entry to each shop, what’s inside is next to magic. Seasonal flavors range from “Lemon Grand Poppy Sorbet” to “Naked Sage ‘We Are Love’ Tea & Roses.” The names are enough to draw you in and the delicious flavor and creamy goodness will keep you coming back. Add this to your warm weather to do list. It’ll be the same, but different everytime you go.
Because you shouldn’t have to travel to Italy for great gelato, you ought to be able to find it in your own backyard. That’s where Gelateria Uli comes in. Taking up residence in Downtown LA and founded by one determined, gelato-loving lady, Uli Nasibova, this spot is what frozen dreams are made of. The undeniably stylish locale, which boasts a blend of rustic wooden charm and downtown luxe, thanks to an elegant marble countertop, is a top spot to spend warmer days, and experience classic flavors like Chocolate, Strawberry and Salted Caramel. But Gelateria Uli also serves the unthinkable, like Coconut Lemongrass, Poblano and Saffron. Whether by the scoop or the pint, the daily handmade goodness that lies between these walls is not to be missed.
Sweet Rose Creamery
If you live in LA, you know about Sweet Rose Creamery. It’s the ice cream parlor that no one can resist. Making small batch flavors on the daily—in Santa Monica—this bright and cheerful locale (with five locations in the LA area) combines good feels with good flavors. Sweet Rose was started by Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan and their longtime friend, Shiho Yoshikawa. A genuine love of artisanal goods, seasonal eats and ice cream was behind it all. Thanks to all of that, Sweet Rose is now definitive of a summer’s day, boasting (nearly life-changing) flavors like Rose Geranium with Raspberry Ripple, Brown Butter with Orange Wafer as well as classics like Cookies and Cream, Chocolate, Strawberry and more. Oh, and they have dairy-free options too, so everyone gets a scoop. Delightful interiors, chocolate waffle cones and cool vibes. What more could you want? Join their ice cream club and get it delivered to your door. How about that?
Rori’s Artisanal Creamery
Floats, fudge bars and ice cream galore. Sounds like your childhood is back in a big way. Kind of. West Hollywood gem, Rori’s Artisanal Creamery commits to frozen treats that are fun, thoughtful and above all, insanely delicious. The woman behind the name, Rori, knows ice cream and claims to have some of the sharpest tastebuds around. That’s what’s led her to deliver wildly addictive flavors like NY Strawberry Cheesecake, Pineapple Whip (vegan), Honey Almond Crunch, Fresh Mint Patty and beyond. Besides, the ice cream being made in-house daily and with ingredients sourced locally, Rori’s makes all of the cakes, candies and cones that go with the scoops. Because Rori, the tastemaker and naysayer, is all about creating the perfect balance. With five locations, two in the LA area, Rori’s interiors are hip and as intense (in a good way) as its offerings. We’ll meet you there.
McConnell’s Los Feliz
McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream most certainly takes its place among the LA ice cream greats. They’ve been serving sweet scoops since 1949 and seem to only get better with time. McConnell’s Los Feliz location, in particular, is one to rave about. Decked out in crisp subway tile with bold red flooring and exposed ceiling beams, this spot screams hip ice cream shoppe by aesthetic. And what they serve only doubles down on the atmosphere. McConnell’s boasts the “finest ice cream in the world,” having made rich, creamy delights for the last 70 years. They’ve perfected the craft of ice cream making using only simple ingredients but concerning themselves with every detail. Whether you’re so crazy about their product that you join the “Pint of the Month Club,” or you’re just craving something delicious on a warm afternoon, flavors like Chocolate Almond Brittle, Turkish Coffee, Wild Berry Chip, Eureka Lemon and Marionberries are sure to satisfy. Plus, as they say at McConnell’s, there “no crap added,” so you can feel good about yourself even after downing a pint.
Manhattan Beach Creamery
A perfect pair: the pier and an ice cream cone. Manhattan Beach has both. Stop into Manhattan Beach Creamery before getting your beach fix and pay homage to their wide-range of classic flavors. Take note, this spot makes fresh ice cream daily in small batches using the best of the best ingredients. But most of all, stop in to experience the parlor’s famous “Cream’wich.” A sweet experience, the ‘wich brings together cookies from Katella Bakery and one of their 28 rotating flavors. Get it made fresh or to go. The creamy goodness goes on, as MB Creamery serves up frozen bananas hand-dipped in chocolate, made magical with sprinkles and almonds too. It’s all of the great things about your childhood combined—beach days and ice cream—define the present moment.