The Best Ice Cream in Los Angeles
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. —Jessica Koslow
Carmela on Third Street
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 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. —J.K.
Multiple locations. carmelaicecream.com.
Owner Leo Bulgarini is a gelato connoisseur. He studied gelato-making in Italy and imports his almonds from Sicily and chocolate from France. At Bulgarini's Altadena location, foreign films such as Matrimonio all'italiana are sometimes screened for the public during the summer. The ice cream case stands just inside the front door, greeting customers with colorful gelato and sorbets. Bulgarini offers three kinds of chocolate — salted, regular and orange flavor — and customer favorites are the standard chocolate chip, almond and vanilla. Oh, and there's house-made pasta, too, if you need a little something savory before dessert. —J.K.
749 E. Altadena Drive; Altadena. (626) 791-6174, bulgarinigelato.com.
Sweet Rose Creamery
Emily Hart Roth
Sweet Rose Creamery
Sweet Rose Creamery carries at least 15 flavors daily, inspired by what's in season, such as a nectarine sorbet during summer. The two most requested flavors are salted caramel and fresh mint with homemade chocolate chips. Peering out at customers from a tall case by the door are Guittard chocolate-dipped bananas, classic and seasonal bon bons and Valrhona fudge pops. Also on the menu are brownie bites, sundaes, shakes, floats and one of the best banana splits in L.A., featuring one scoop each of old-fashioned vanilla and chocolate (substitutions allowed), a ripe banana, homemade hot fudge and whipped cream topped with toasted almonds and a strawberry. —J.K.
Multiple locations. sweetrosecreamery.com.
Michael Kim, owner of Ihwamun Ice Cream, makes and rotates about 36 flavors through his shop in the Little Tokyo Galleria. The choices range from classics like chocolate and vanilla to more trendy scoops such as chai latte and matcha. Kim sources his organic dairy base from Straus Family Creamery, up north in Petaluma. The ice creams are all densely textured, not airy, and concentrated with quality ingredients. The ingredient mixed into Ihwamun’s ice cream with the most history is yakgwa, which translated means “medicinal snack”; it is a fried cookie made with honey and sesame oil. The crunchy cookies are broken into small pieces and folded into the ice cream. —Eddie Lin
333 S. Alameda St., Little Tokyo; (213) 537-0380, ihwamun.com.
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