Summer is in full swing, and although your feelings towards your window air conditioning unit are changing, at least two things remain the same: Soft serve is absolutely delicious, and the human body needs to consume it whenever the thermometer surpasses 80 degrees. We don’t make the rules, we just tell you about them.
But unlike tracking down The Best Ice Cream In LA, finding great soft serve can be a bit of an undertaking. Frankly, there’s just not a lot of it here. But great spots do exist - here are eight of our favorites.
Agnes, a new 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, paying homage to the head chef’s Iowan upbringing. So it’s pretty par for the course that they’d have amazing ice cream for dessert, 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.
Anytime our bodies begin to overheat in the summer (so, always), you will find us bee-lining it (pun absolutely intended) straight to HoneyMee. Here, it’s all about two things: Silky-smooth vanilla soft serve 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 dairy coma. There are also nine locations throughout the greater LA area, so chances are you’re never too from one either.
This tiny Silver Lake shop (they have a second location in Tarzana as well) is arguably the most popular soft serve spot right now in LA. And rightfully so - it’s godd*mn delicious. If it’s your first time at Magpies, start with the sweet cream flavor as your base, and take full advantage of their excellent daily toppings - which range from brown sugar oats to honeycomb to graham streusel. Don’t stress if you’re dairy-free, either; they have several vegan options on the menu as well.
CVT Soft Serve Truck
We love The CVT Truck, because it reminds us of the kind of old-school soft serve our parents would buy us as kids after forcing us to play a sport we had no natural talent for. Don’t expect weird flavors or out-of-the-box toppings here, just creamy $3 cups and cones of vanilla, chocolate, or twist soft serve, and a whole bunch of nostalgia. Their location changes daily, but give them a follow on Instagram for updates.
Located right on Western Ave. in Ktown, Bumsan makes their ice cream using products from their organic farm in Korea, and the result is a light, airy soft serve that’s unlike any other version in town. They have a tight menu that includes matcha, chocolate, guava, mango coconut, and their “true milk” flavor, but it’s the taro milk tea flavor that remains our favorite. If you feel like getting a bit wild, go for the taro/chocolate twist - you won’t regret it.
Wax Paper is one of our all-time favorite sandwich shops in LA, but lost in the well-deserved fervor over the Larry Mantle, Ira Glass, and Terry Gross is a soft serve situation that’s just as good. Each location (Frogtown and Chinatown) has different flavors going at all times, but just know that whether it’s strawberry, lime, cereal, or a flavor you’ve never had before, it’s going to be delicious. Also, if you’re missing your Disneyland fix right now, the Frogtown location is currently selling a lime and mango Dole whip. You’re welcome.
At this point, if you haven’t heard of Milk Bar, your back must be killing you, because that’s one heavy rock to be under. The New York original is one of the most well-known dessert shops in the country, and now has a fully-operational pick-up window right at Melrose and La Brea. While their pies, cookies, and cake truffles are all legendary in their own right, the cereal milk soft serve is equally delicious and everything we want on a hot summer day.
Big Softee only opened in 2019, but already feels like a SGV mainstay. Located in Monterey Park, this tiny soft serve shop has made its mark by selling silky smooth soft serve with flavors inspired by both Hong Kong and America. The menu changes all the time, but expect everything from tofu flower to black sesame to Tahitian vanilla - and expect not to be able to pick a favorite. Check their Instagram for the flavors of the day.