With the weather finally heating up in Los Angeles, I can only think of getting to have all the ice cream I want! Ok, I still have it when it is cold outside, but I will feel somehow less weird in the spring and summer months. Haha! Luckily Los Angeles is booming with all kinds of ice cream shops from traditional to artisanal. Below I have outlined some of my favorite ice cream shops in the greater Los Angeles area. These range from traditional favorites where I find my favorite Vanilla to some experimental favorites like Compartes Chocolate & Stumptown Coffee married together. All of these are purely ice cream shops and I have listed them in alphabetical order, because I honestly do not really put one above the other. Depends on my mood with ice cream. 🙂
Originating in Pasadena, Carmela has grown to Third Street by the Grove mall and Woodland Hills. They even offer ice cream workshops and classes out of their Pasadena storefront where you can learn how to make artisan ice cream and related desserts. Parking at the Third Street location can be a bit of a pain with only metered street parking, but I usually valet at a local restaurant and have Carmela for dessert after; or I walk from the Grove mall. The store is always clean, simple and bright to reflect their beautiful products, including homemade brittle, marshmallows, cookies, and more.
Carmela is pure simple beauty when it comes to ice cream – you just want to eat it because it is so pretty. My personal favorite is an affogato (shot of espresso over ice cream) with vanilla ice cream as the base. Their brown sugar vanilla is one of my favorites in LA. Other popular flavors are their salted caramel (the number one flavor in popularity), earl grey tea, fresh mint with cacao nibs, and their classic rocky road (uses their homemade, large and fluffy marshmallows). I also can’t get away from their homemade waffle bowls/cones or almond brittle (I add as a topping sometimes). If you are too sad leaving, which sometimes I am, you can grab a pint or ice cream sandwich from the freezer to go – all made fresh daily. No wonder Carmela has been named one of LA’s Best for several years!
Grom is one of Italy’s most common and beloved gelato chains, and I was so happy to see it come to the United States in the Los Angeles area! Grom is 100% natural and they concentrate heavily on the consistency that makes gelato great: a perfect melty creamy ratio. Since gelato is my absolute favorite type of ice cream to have, I always get an affogato here. Just light sweet/creamy perfection. Since it is from Italy, I highly recommend traditional flavors as well, like Stracciatella. Sitting in the heart of the Hollywood & Highland mall, Grom is at the frontline of all the hustle and bustle of the Walk of Fame. You can park in the mall’s structure underneath for easy access – just enter off Highland. If you are in this tourist trap area, I highly recommend treating yourself to this Italian gem.
Rated in the top ten in the world by National Geographic and running since 1945, Handel’s is your old school, really traditional homemade ice cream shop. They use normal heavy cream ingredients and their selection of over 100 flavors are nostalgic, recognizable and full of add-ons and all the usual toppings of whipped cream, sauces, and more. Favorites range from simple like Mint Chocolate Chip to the Graham Central Station which is graham flavored ice cream with graham cracker ripple and chocolate covered crunchies. I absolutely crave these from time to time and try to stop by whenever I am along the beach in the South Bay area. Parking is easy since it is in an open mall with a huge lot out front. The store is just a simple window, no interior, and there is usually a line but it goes fast since all ice cream is just in huge coolers ready to be scooped. If you do not know what to get, try their sampler! You get four little scoops of whatever you choose!
Ice cream does not always have to be made with heavy cream to taste good – it can be made with pure California milk, like at Honeymee in Los Angeles, to produce a lighter yet still creamy soft-serve ice cream. Honeymee puts real honeycomb on top of the ice cream they serve to bring out the sweetness in the ice cream – it is a perfect combination! Every store has honey you can purchase displayed on a beautiful wooden shelving unit against a white tile and black chalkboard aesthetic. You feel light and happy when in a Honeymee store, and there are locations all throughout Southern California (Ktown, Sawtelle, Gardena, and more) so you can enjoy almost anywhere.
My favorite is the Honey Affogato (ice cream topped with espresso). Honeymee is Honeymee’s classic dessert: true milk ice cream topped with a honeycomb and drizzled with national honey. Other favorites are the Darling (just the ice cream), Dear (ice cream drizzled with Ghirardelli chocolate sauce and sea salt), Waffle Cone (you can make any dessert in a waffle cone), and the Babee (a sweet bun stuffed with any of the desserts). Honeymee is a perfect dessert if you are craving ice cream because you still get the decadence with half the fat. After all, a Happy Bee is a Happy Mee and a Happy You.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is a local treasure in Los Angeles. Funded by a nonprofit and a Certified B Corporation, Jeni’s upholds a high standard of social and environmental performance in an effort to use business as a force of good. With that warm sentiment, welcome the cute Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams where one of my favorite vanilla ice creams is made! I am a very basic person, and I love vanilla ice cream more than any other. So when I find one I crave, I want to keep going back. Jeni’s is simple, clean and creamy to perfection. They use Direct Trade ingredients and actually use community feedback and trends to decide which flavors to go for next! Truly an ice cream shop trying to save the world one scoop at a time. 🙂
McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream
McConnell’s, the Santa Barbara gem, is a favorite for simple, creamy, very sweet ice cream. Their truck is found at most big foodie events, like LA Food Fest, and they are spread all throughout Los Angeles, like Grand Central Market and a new location in Los Feliz. They are also one of the oldest running ice cream shops, running since 1949, slightly younger than Handel’s above. Many restaurants and stores will use their ice cream as bases and you can even find them in grocery stores. I love the GCM location since I can get good food and then end with McConnell’s as my dessert, and this also means you have a place to park! Their rich ingredients create inventive rich flavors, like Cardamom & Gingersnaps or Boysenberry Rose Milk Jam. It is a classic when checking out ice cream in LA.
Salt & Straw
Salt & Straw has been named one of the best ice cream shops by so many prestigious celebrities, magazines, critics and more in both Portland and Los Angeles. This trendy shop has some of the most inventive and decadent ice cream flavors you’d ever find, and they all taste good. Go to one of their gorgeous, country-style shops to try homemade waffle cones with any one of their 20+ creative flavors or even sign up for their Pints Club and get seasonal pints of ice cream every month (they add new, exclusive flavors every month). You can try as many flavors as you want before purchasing, that is how much they believe in their product. The line is almost always out the door, but you never feel rushed and they take GREAT pride in making every scoop picture perfect.
My favorite is the Stumptown Coffee & Compartes Love Nuts. I usually get this in a waffle bowl, which is perfectly folded in a way that looks like a blooming flower around the ice cream. I strongly suggest that whatever you do, do not get more than one or two scoops max. A normal Salt & Straw scoop is HUGE and you will not want any more than that due to the richness of the ice cream. I dare you to not find a flavor here that blows your mind!
Sweet Rose Creamery
Sweet Rose Creamery is spreading across Los Angeles with a few locations of their own as well, flying under the radar. They offer adorable catering and patio party options for your next event, and their hip shops are adorable as well. This location is right by the Grove Mall and if you want some ice cream, it is worth the little walk over. I love taking the ice cream and enjoying it in Pacific Park across the street for a nice little relax/treat yourself moment. The Old Fashioned Vanilla and the Mint Chocolate Chip are my favorites. The Mint Chocolate Chip in particular is made with very fresh mint and tastes as such, so I love the authentic flavor. It is a local favorite!
Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream
Originally from Brooklyn, Van Leeuwen is quickly spreading across LA as their trucks show up at almost every major event and their locations expand to the greater Los Angeles area. Their simple recipe of milk, sugar and eggs creates a comfortable, familiar ice cream fanship. They also are not shying away from experimenting, such as adding bugs on top for some fiber or creating a whole new unique flavor like Planet Earth that has chunks of matcha cake in it. I love it and crave it now every since I had it. I absolutely love seeing their trucks wherever I am, whether on Abbot Kinney shopping or at a social media event, because I know I will have some really good ice cream as a snack!
Wanderlust Creamery is probably the most unique ice cream shop you could visit just because of their internationally inspired flavors. Everything is inspired by places they have been or want to travel to, and you will fall in love with their beautiful brand new location in Atwater Village that is bright and full of life with plants hanging from the ceiling. Everything about Wanderlust Creamery screams passion, from nostalgic flavors like Abuelita Malted Crunch that shows a bit of the owners’ childhood to Sticky Rice + Mango from their travels to Southeast Asia. They also make amazing seasonal flavors every month. My favorite in March was the Mascarpone + Blueberry Elderflower from Sweden, but then again I am a sucker for Mascarpone cheese anything. This is a must in the northern area of Los Angeles!
I noticed after doing this list that I tend to go for affogatos…it is just how I like to judge an ice cream shop. But please try these out for yourself and let us know what you think! Forget love, I’d rather fall in ice cream!
Did you like this post?? Make sure to check out our list of best matcha ice cream shops in LA, our list of best donuts in Los Angeles, or our FREE bucket list of 100 restaurants in Los Angeles!