Los Angeles is awash in terrific homegrown ice cream and gelato makers — and National Ice Cream Day on July 17 is the perfect time to celebrate them. As if we need upstarts from Portland, Santa Barbara, Brooklyn or Italy to get our fix! Here's the scoop on where to get the sweet stuff.
Located at the Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax, Bennett's has some unique flavors like Cabernet Sauvignon, Choffee Coffee and Fancy Nancy (coffee ice cream with banana chunks and caramel swirls) in addition to the standards. They also make their own frozen, chocolate-dipped bananas. Cash only.
6333 W. 3rd St., Ste. 548, Los Angeles. 323-939-6786
Plenty of places do shaved ice but true to its name, the "snow cream" served here is less icy and much creamier. It comes in large, frozen blocks that are shave into a fluffy pile after you order. Then you pick your toppings, everything from rainbow sprinkles and brownie bites to grass jelly and lychee.
11311 Mississippi Ave., West L.A., 310-445-8725.
12 W. Main Street, Alhambra. 626-282-8727.
This place makes the most exquisite pistachio gelato in town. It's expensive but worth the money. Their other flavors are pretty damn good also.
749 E. Altadena Dr., Altadena. 626-627-7640.
Sorbets like blueberry thyme, cucumber, raspberry rose and cantaloupe get equal play to exquisitely sourced ice cream flavors like strawberry and mint cacao nib. This place makes some of the best salted caramel ice cream around.
Pasadena, Woodland Hills, Los Angeles.
It's all about awesomely wacky flavors like brown butter candied bacon, Thai tea, chipotle chocolate, fried chicken and waffles and horchata. You can also spot Coolhaus trucks (not just in L.A. but in Dallas and New York as well) and you can pick up their architecturally-themed ice cream sandwiches in stores all over town.
8588 Washington Blvd., Culver City. 310-838-5559.
59 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. 626-486-2700.
This longtime favorite of UCLA students and Westwood denizens is one of the best deals in town: $2 for a scoop of ice cream between two cookies. The ice cream flavors are basic — mint chocolate chip, strawberry, vanilla, cookie dough, rocky road, etc. — but that doesn't make them any less delicious. Be prepared for a line. Cash only.
926 Broxton Ave., Westwood. 310-208-0448.
You can pretend you're in a 1950s soda fountain while you chow down on scoops of taro, black walnut and macapuno ice cream, a creamy coconut flavor inspired by the cuisine of the Philippines. The chocolate dipped strawberry, a rich strawberry ice cream with dark chocolate flakes, and the seasonal peach are favorites.
1824 W. Main St., Alhambra. 626-282-6533.
Located in the Spring Arcade in downtown's historic core neighborhood, this small-batch gelateria specializes in a rotating assortment of experimental flavors such as maple pecan, coconut lemongrass and jamaica-mint. Its also known for its assortment of vegan non-dairy sorbets.
541 S. Spring St. #104, downtown, 213-900-4717.
Ice Cream Lab
This high tech ice cream shop uses liquid nitrogen to instantly freeze your choice of ingredients to create flavors like banilla (bananas, Nilla wafers and caramel), blue velvet and movie time (caramel popcorn and chocolate).
Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Little Tokyo.
Most soft-serve ice cream, even the fanciest stuff, is made from batches of mass-produced powders. Magpies aims to break the mold by doing it themselves, from scratch. That means flavors like strawberry rhubarb, yuzu honey, green tea brown rice and non-dairy caramelized pineapple coconut.
2660 Griffith Park Blvd., Silver Lake. 323-486-7094.
This L.A. stalwart features Persian flavors like rosewater saffron and orange blossom.
1525 N. La Brea Ave, Hollywood. 323-874-6168.
Mateo's Ice Cream & Fruit Bars
It's all about the paletas at Mateo's. The colorful popsicles come in fantastic flavors like tamarind, passion fruit, gaunabana, soursop, pineapple chili and leche quemada (burnt milk), among many others. You can also get most of these flavors in scoops.
Culver City, Pico-Union, Crenshaw.
The ice cream bars and plain old scoops are pretty great but the best thing about Milk are its milkshakes. And the best milkshake? We vote for the banana peanut malt, which features housemade banana dulce de leche ice cream mixed with peanuts and malt balls.
7290 Beverly Blvd., L.A., 323-939-6455.
1639 Silver Lake Blvd., 323-913-9911.
Mother Moo Creamery
Karen Klemons makes small batches of quirky and fantastic flavors cara cara orange sorbet, organic corn flakes, fresh honey, matcha green tea and grapefruit Campari sorbet. Her jams are also great.
17 Kersting Ct., Sierra Madre. 626-355-9650.
1006 Mission St., South Pasadena. 626-441-0744.
Adventurous flavors like Amaretto, toasted almond fig and avocado are the order of the day at Pazzo. For those who need a kick, try the midnight espresso.
3827 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake. 323-662-1410.
735 S. Figueroa St., Ste. 113, downtown. 213 489-9020.
You might be tempted to hop on a bicycle after eating a scoop here, which would be fitting because their gimmick is that this is bicycle-churned ice cream. If you want to earn a free scoop, sign up for a slot (they're available almost every day from 7 to 9 p.m.) and pedal for 15 to 20 minutes. Your sweet reward is a scoop of something like snickerdoodle, chile mango, candied ginger or salted chocolate crunch. Ingredients are organic, fair trade and, where possible, local.
458 S. Main St., downtown. 213-537-0257.
Even in a big city filled with wacky flavors, Quenelle stands out as having some of the wackiest and most unique: Luxardo cherry, pandan palm sugar caramel, strawberry white balsamic, POG (pasion fruit, orange, uava), cranberry apricot, Long Island ice tea (for adults).
2214 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank. 818-843-1035.
Scoops has all sorts of intriguing flavors, which vary from location to location, and are frequently changed up. The signature flavor is brown bread, a concoction that's made with Grape Nuts. Nope, that description doesn't do it justice. But it is delicious. Technically, this stuff is ice cream (we think) but it's so creamy and rich it's closer to gelato.
Palms, Chinatown, East Hollywood, Highland Park.
Sweet Rose Creamery
This upscale ice cream shop specializes in seasonal flavors like summer corn and peaches and cream alongside some of the best salted caramel ice cream around. Their sundaes, which can be topped with nutty brittle, are killer.
Brentwood Mart, Pacific Palisades, Studio City, Mid-City, Santa Monica.