LA happens to be absolutely stacked with incredible ice cream shops, so there’s no excuse to be stuck on your couch next to a pint of freezer-burnt grocery store ice cream. Which is why, after extensive scientific analysis (eating a bunch of it all at once), we’ve compiled a list of our 29 favorite spots. From classic 100-year-old institutions to pop-up projects that have recently become full-time dessert shops, here's where to find the best ice cream in LA.
This sibling-owned scoop shop in North Torrance is ideal for when you’re craving ice cream that’s a little more balanced than some of those nine-ingredient sugar bombs you’ll find around town. Most of Kansha’s flavors are kept simple to highlight star ingredients: intense dark chocolate with roasted barley tea, nutty black sesame, or milk ice cream swirled with caramel and fresh-baked oatmeal cookies. If you see any seasonal fruit flavors on the menu, ask for a sample—they often source from growers at the Torrance Farmers’ Market. And since Kansha is located in a strip mall near some of the South Bay’s best Japanese spots, you can feel smart suggesting dessert after slurping a bowl of ramen for lunch.
Awan serves creamy, plant-based ice cream from a tiny takeout window in West Hollywood. You come to this Indonesian-inspired dessert shop for refreshing flavors like blood orange, lemongrass, and rhubarb pie—not a basic scoop of chocolate on a sugar cone. The vanilla beans here are imported straight from Bali and the strawberries come from renowned farm Harry’s Berries in Oxnard. Expect to walk away holding a beige cup full of something wonderful and unexpected. Our favorite surprise so far? The tortilla flavor, which will leave you wondering how a scoop of vegan ice cream can taste more like a hand-pressed blue corn tortilla than the real thing.
Antico Nuovo in Koreatown is a high-end Italian restaurant that happens to make remarkable ice cream. They tend to specialize in seasonal fruit flavors like plum, strawberry, or mango, plus some non-fruit options like vanilla pistachio crunch and classic honeycomb filled with chunks of sweet honey. This custard-y, salty, rich ice cream will change the way you evaluate the other frozen desserts in your life. Unfortunately, you can’t get this mind-blowing ice cream in the middle of a hot summer day (Antico is only open for dinner), but you can (and should) book a dinner reservation just to eat it.
Thank you, Portland - and not just for Mom-tifa. You’ve also given us some of the best ice cream in all of LA. You’d probably assume a place with flavors like avocado sherbet and black olive brittle with goat cheese wouldn’t be for everyone, but you’d be wrong. Because Salt & Straw adds stuff you should never put in ice cream, and somehow still makes it better than any ice cream you’ve ever had before. Now, with locations from the Arts District to Venice, you’re never too far away from its glory.
photo credit: Talia Mayden
Mateo's Ice Cream & Fruit Bars
Between their Oaxacan-style paletas, super-creamy gelatos, and sorbets that taste like freshly juiced strawberries, this incredible Mexican dessert shop reminds us of an enchanted bow and arrow, or Olivia Colman’s IMDb page: it simply doesn’t miss. There are a few locations throughout the city, with each storefront stocked with over 30 different flavors of paletas, including watermelon, mango dusted with chile, and leche quemada, a creamy smoked milk concoction that tastes exactly like someone kippered a gallon of dairy over an open flame.
Agnes Restaurant & Cheesery
Agnes, the American comfort food spot in Pasadena, focuses on the most important things in life: dairy, cheese, and excellent pasta. The whole place feels like an upscale dairy farm in the Midwest and pays homage to the head chef’s Iowan upbringing. So, it’s par for the course that they’d have amazing ice cream for dessert. The perfect, milky vanilla soft serve that tastes like the one you’d find at McDonald’s, but somehow richer, and definitely made with better ingredients. The milk is so fresh and there are little ice crystals that make it dense and chewy. Plus, you get your pick of toppings like cookie crumble, seasonal fruit, and, in true Midwestern fashion, puppy chow.
When the weather does that thing where it’s 95 degrees for eight days straight, head to this Philadelphia-style water ice truck (or their brick-and-mortar location on Melrose). Ice-cold and hyper-vibrant, these frozen treats come in flavors like “Rainbow Rocket,” “Strawberry Lemon Lush,” and “Mango Madness,” and is the perfect choice for when you’re craving something a little lighter than ice cream. Yes, we know that this isn’t “technically” ice cream—but it’s sweet and cold and we love eating it, so it stays.
Monty’s Good Burger
Whether you’re vegan or not, the plant-based “milk” shakes and ice cream floats at Monty’s Good Burger are sure to soothe the part of your brain that’s screaming “get me a sweet little treat, or else!” The vegan burger spot has turned into a certified chain, with locations in Ktown, West Hollywood, Echo Park, and Riverside, which means you’re never too far away from their thick, creamy banana split, chocolate, and bright blue “DodgerBerry” shakes. Or if you’re feeling more traditional, they also have ice cream-topped floats, which taste just as sweet and fulfilling as the ones you’d find at a late-night diner.
Saffron & Rose is one of the largest brands of Persian ice cream in America and can be found in markets nationwide, but nothing beats a visit to its original location in Westwood. Located just south of Wilshire in Little Tehran, the tiny shop has been cranking out thick, Persian-style ice cream for almost four decades and still has lines out the door. Almost everybody is eating the saffron and pistachio flavor, but we never leave without getting at least one scoop of the orange blossom as well.
Pops is located in San Fernando, which, according to our ice cream GPS, is about 15 minutes north of Burbank. (They also have a location in Van Nuys, but why ruin a perfectly good intro?) Anyway, the family running Pops is from Belize, and they’ve integrated Latin American flavors into the majority of their ice cream—and the result is out of this world. There’s the insanely sweet zapote, the nut-flavored lucuma, and a coconut ice cream we want to fall asleep next to every night. Skip the cone and cup, and put it all in a hollowed-out, half-coconut husk to make your friends even more jealous they still haven’t come here.
Greetings from the grandaddy of all LA ice cream. Established in 1919, Fosselman’s is the definition of a classic, and if you haven’t gone to the Alhambra location at least once, you can’t really say you know LA ice cream. This is the kind of creamy, old-school ice cream you crave when you’re home with the sniffles and plowing through a season of Law & Order you’ve already watched.
Honeymee proves that good ice cream doesn’t have to involve out-there flavors and a drunk toddler’s choice of candy dumped on top. Here, it’s all about two things: vanilla ice cream and honey. And when both of those are as good as they are at Honeymee, you don’t need anything else. It’s simple, fresh, and light enough to not leave you in a late-night dairy coma. The place is all over the suburbs, and it’s starting to sprout up around LA proper, too, so now you have even more opportunities to get the honey-covered “Sweetie” with added honeycomb.
Sweet Rose Creamery
The first Sweet Rose Creamery opened in 2010 and instantly became one of LA’s best. You can stick to their classic flavors, like salted caramel and (easily) our favorite mint chocolate in the city, but the move at Sweet Rose is to try at least one of the monthly specials. Flavors change with the seasons (and are legitimately based on what they find at the local farmer’s market) so expect things like rose geranium, ginger, and lemon. Also, all the toppings are made in-house and you should definitely be taking advantage of as many as possible.
Mashti Malone’s is another LA institution that’s been serving Persian-style ice cream in the heart of Hollywood for almost 40 years. The menu is large, with nearly 50 different flavors served on any given day, but what makes this tiny shop so special are its fragrant flavors that stay on your tongue all afternoon. Think ginger rosewater, saffron, and roasted pistachio-infused heaven. There is an almost perfume-like quality to the ice cream here that, at first, might take some people by surprise, but then you’ll realize you never want another kind of ice cream again.
Van Leeuwen is big-deal ice cream in their native NYC, and they’ve started taking over LA too, with trucks and stores spanning from the Arts District to El Segundo. Flavors don’t get too wild, but there are enough rotating special flavors to keep things exciting, and the classics are excellent (their plain chocolate is maybe the best we’ve ever had). The earl grey tea and honeycomb are our go-to’s, and if you see the lemon meringue yogurt tart in the case, do not hesitate. And for non-dairy eaters, Van Leeuwen also makes fantastic vegan ice cream: the coconut cream base isn’t too overpowering, but it’s just as creamy as the dairy-based original.
As the all-day offshoot of the truffle pasta shrine that is Angelini Osteria, Alimentari is a great spot for a quick, casual breakfast, or lunch on their front sidewalk patio. However, if you come here without getting at least one scoop of their gelato, you’re living a lesser existence. Made in-house daily, this is hands down our favorite gelato in the city. Flavors change often, so don’t get too attached. But the good news is every flavor is good. Skip the cup and get it squished between a brioche bun for the gelato sandwich of your dreams.
Magpies is one of the most popular ice cream shops in the city right now. And for good reason: this Silver Lake strip mall spot is making the best soft serve you can find on the Eastside (they have a location in Tarzana as well). Lines are still pretty long on the weekends, so just do what we do and preorder in advance. If it’s your first time, order their signature sweetened cream, and then get involved with their daily flavors (like maple French toast) on return visits. And don’t worry, you will certainly be returning.
Yes, this place is in Anaheim, but trust us when we say Le Mirage Pastry is worth the drive. Located in the heart of Little Arabia, this iconic bakery is filled with every type of pastry, cake, tart, and cookie you could want. The problem is, we always just end up getting the bouza. The taffy-like Syrian ice cream is thick, gooey, and delicious, and modeled after the same ice cream the owner grew up eating in Damascus. It’s an incredibly special dessert and one that should be added immediately to your LA ice cream Rolodex.
This Santa Barbara original has been making ice cream for 70 years, and it shows. They know their way around the classics (the vanilla bean is a real best in show), but also make fancier flavors like boysenberry rosé milk jam. They have locations in Grand Central Market, Studio City, and Pacific Palisades, and also do nationwide shipping. Always get the Turkish Coffee.
If you’ve been on the internet at least once in the last five years, you’ve probably noticed that people get excited about ice cream cookie sandwiches. But decades before people started taking photos of themselves eating (but not really eating) dessert, there was Diddy Riese. The Westwood classic has been around for more than 35 years, and even though you can get a solid ice cream cookie sandwich anywhere these days, this LA original will always be worth the pilgrimage.
Rolling into town from Columbus, Ohio, Jeni’s has moved into LA in a big way, with shops in Los Feliz, Larchmont, Calabasas, and Venice. Narrowing down the huge choice of flavors can be more than a little overwhelming, but we’re partial to the brambleberry crisp and the darkest chocolate. You can usually try some flavors they’re testing out, if you like feeling like an ice cream lab rat. Which seems like the best kind of lab rat.
Located inside The Original Farmers Market on Third and Fairfax, Bennett’s is another classic LA establishment and our go-to spot when our Grove parking ramp anxieties have hit unsustainable levels. Serving house-made ice cream since 1946, you can feel confident picking up one of their famous frozen bananas or ice cream sundaes—but for our money, the best thing here is the Cabernet Sauvignon sorbet. You read that right. It’s slightly sweet, incredibly fresh, and legitimately tastes like wine.
On name alone, it’s impossible to dislike this order-at-the-counter dessert shop in Sherman Oaks. Luckily, their excellent Italian ices and ice creams seal the deal. Their menu is broken up into three sections: traditional ice cream, Italian ice, and something they call creme ice. The guy behind the counter explained to us that it’s, “75% less dairy than ice cream, but with the same exact flavor,” and he was telling the truth. It’s like eating regular ice cream, but still feeling like you could go for a jog later.
Ginger’s is a relatively new addition to the LA ice cream scene, but this corner shop in Culver City has become a local favorite thanks to the huge number of flavors, super creamy ice cream, and genuinely good vegan options. They’ve got everything from raspberry panna cotta to Vietnamese coffee, but you’ll probably find it hard to go past the “Billionaire Brownie.” You can get your ice cream in sandwich form, or you could go the ice cream pop route. Live your truth.
Wanderlust’s schtick is ice cream inspired by countries around the world. What does that look like in your cone? Stuff like olive oil with chocolate-dipped baguette (Catalonia), Thai Tea, pretzel and rye crumbs (Iceland), and their signature Ube malted crunch (Philippines). The whole thing could be stupidly precious, but the ice cream itself is amazing.
If you aren’t putting every dollar you have towards matcha stock at the moment, you need a new financial advisor. You can’t escape the green tea powder in LA right now, and while every ice cream store in the city has a matcha flavor on their menu, the absolute best is at Midori Matcha in Little Tokyo. The cafe itself has everything from matcha iced tea to eclair cakes, but the soft serve is why you’re there. It’s creamy and refreshing, and gives you what you need to get through the rest of the day.
Coolhaus started in 2009 as a humble food truck serving ice cream sandwiches wherever they could get a parking spot. Fast forward to today, and the Coolhaus empire is in full force, with trucks in three major cities, a shop in Culver City, and pints that can be found in grocery stores across the country. So what makes these sandwiches so special? The seemingly wild-flavored ice cream. Think mascarpone and fig, coconut negroni, and milkshake and fries. But don’t worry, these aren’t nutty flavors for the sake of being nutty—they taste incredible too.
If you grew up in Los Angeles, you grew up eating Thrifty Ice Cream. (If your parents didn’t take you there, some other kid’s less-responsible parents definitely did.) And while Thrifty might not taste quite as good as it did when you were five, it’s still solid ice cream—and moreover, it’s exhilarating to be able to get a scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough at the same time as your mundane Advil/Band-Aid/deodorant errand. That cylindrical scoop shape is straight-up iconic. Available at Rite Aids across the city.