The 10 Best Ice Cream and Gelato Shops in Los Angeles

Scoops at McConnell's Ice Cream
Scoops at McConnell's Ice Cream
Courtesy McConnell's

With summer around the corner — and likely a very hot one at that — you'd better map out your ice cream game plan as early as possible. Because while year-round sunshine make Los Angeles suitable for frozen treats any time of the year, it's those sweltering dog days that make a scoop of something creamy and cold shift from a want to a need. Good thing a gourmet ice cream explosion has take root over the past few years, providing us with an array of acclaimed chains from out of town, as well as homegrown heroes who turn California's seasonal bounty into delectable creations. Here's where to get your ice cream fix this summer:

Coffee toffee with chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich at Milk
Coffee toffee with chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich at Milk
Jessica Koslow

10. Milk

Walking into Milk is like stepping into a condensed version of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. There's a stand-up fridge to the left with goodies such as butterscotch drumsticks, watermelon and red velvet macaroon ice cream sandwiches and frozen strawberry shortcakes. Piled high on the counter to the right are cookies, brownies and cakes. The menu board hanging overhead lists shakes, malts, floats and the classics, which include a warm, ooey-gooey chocolate sundae and the blondie with vanilla ice cream, butterscotch and pecan praline. Make-your-own ice cream sandwiches are made with about 10 cookie types to choose from, as well as ice cream flavors such as jasmine, nutella, blueberry crumble pie and the most popular pick, banana dulce de leche. —Jessica Koslow 
7290 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood; (323) 939-6455; and 1639 Silver Lake Blvd., Silver Lake, (323) 913-9911, themilkshop.com.

Sea salt caramel with chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich at Coolhaus
Sea salt caramel with chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich at Coolhaus
Jessica Koslow

9. Coolhaus

True to its name, everything is cool about Coolhaus: the handwritten names on the ice cream case; the young, stylish servers; its roaming food trucks; and flavors with names like Cuban cigar and Peking duck. The shop is petite, and fewer than 10 people in line equals a crowd. But the ice cream sandwich, with two chunky, chewy homemade cookies on each end, is worth standing in line for. It's massive, with ice cream bulging out the sides, and makes a perfect treat for two. Popular Coolhaus picks are balsamic fig and mascarpone and salted caramel. —JK 
8588 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City; (310)424-5559; and 59 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 486-2700, eatcoolhaus.com.

Salty chocolate and salted caramel at Mother Moo Creamery
Salty chocolate and salted caramel at Mother Moo Creamery
Jessica Koslow

8. Mother Moo Creamery

Sandwiched in a corner mini-mall, Mother Moo Creamery has the feel of a small country store circa Sierra Madre's old town days. Owner Karen Klemens is the award-winning jam maker behind Mothercluck, and she also learned a few cool tricks in Penn State's Ice Cream Short Course. The ice creams served daily are in small batches due to limited space. But there's no shortage of exciting ice cream choices, from cornflakes (gluten-free) and black pepper to orange blossom cardamom and the beer-flavored "last call." Check out the new South Pasadena location as well, which features slices of homemade pies (we suggest going á la mode). —JK 
17 Kersting Court, Sierra Madre; (626) 355-9650; and 1006 Mission St., South Pasadena, (626) 441-0744; mothermoo.com.

Scoops Westside
Scoops Westside
Jessica Koslow

7. Scoops

Tai Kim, the owner of the original Scoops location on Heliotrope Drive near Melrose Avenue, expanded his innovative ice cream empire with independently owned branches in Palms, Chinatown and Highland Park. Each Scoops locations serves up a rotating list of regular and nondairy flavors, boasting creative combinations using multiple ingredients, every day except Sunday. That means up to 50 flavors a week. There's usually only one constant on the menu, the customer favorite "brown bread": caramel ice cream with candied Grape-Nuts. —JK
712 N. Heliotrope Drive, East Hollywood; (323) 906-2649; 3400 Overland Ave., Palms; (323) 405-7055; 5105 York Blvd., Eagle Rock; and 727 N. Broadway, ,Chinatown, (323) 739-8675.

Dark chocolate with cacao nibs and brown sugar vanilla bean at Carmela on Third Street
Dark chocolate with cacao nibs and brown sugar vanilla bean at Carmela on Third Street
Jessica Koslow

6. Carmela Ice Cream and Sorbet

The Third Street location of Carmela, just west of the Grove, is tucked snugly into a row of stores on a bustling traffic-heavy street. It's easy to pass by if you aren't looking for it. But the scores of kids who race through the doors with their parents close behind know exactly where to find Carmela. The 6-month-old shop carries goodies such as cones, toffee and cookies, made in its creamery and original shop in Pasadena. The sorbet flavors, from cucumber to blueberry thyme, follow the seasons. Popular picks include salted caramel, made with homemade caramel, and mint with cacao nib. The secret to the in-demand mint flavor: fresh mint leaves steeped in the milk. For Valley dwellers, there's also a newer location in Woodland Hills. —JK 
7920 W. Third St., Mid-City; (323) 944-0232; 2495 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 797-1405; and 5301 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills; (818) 914-5401; carmelaicecream.com.



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