Outside of its birthplace in Hawaii, Lappert's Ice Cream is mostly a Northern California brand. Bored in retirement, Walter Lappert mixed his first batch of ultra rich, high-butterfat ice cream in Kauai in 1983. The brand took off, and his son, Michael, opened a California production facility the following year. The two branches of the company each make their own ice cream. You'll often find different Lappert's flavors in Hawaii than on the mainland -- if you can find the stuff all. Lappert's has few outlets in Southern California, unless you know where to look.
Jerry's Soda Shoppe at the De Soto Pharmacy in Canoga Park, which makes our favorite ice cream soda ever, serves half-a-dozen Lappert's flavors, but the only dedicated Lappert's shop in Southern California is in Palm Springs.It's a small store along Palm Canyon Drive, the city' main tourist drag. It's poorly air-conditioned and the hours, especially in the summer, seem random. The ice cream, however, leaves nothing to complain about.
It is incredibly rich and velvety in a way that can make other "premium" ice creams seem like diet food, in comparison. The flavors range from standards like vanilla, butter pecan and chocolate chip to house inventions like Kahlua Truffle (high-octane Kahlua and coffee ice cream with generous chunks of dark chocolate truffles) and Coconut Apple (coconut ice cream with baked apple chunks). The Rum Raisin tastes like the raisins have actually been soaked in rum, and the Macadamia Nut includes more full-sized macadamia nuts than we've ever seen in an ice cream.
Around the desert, date shakes are a cottage industry, and Lappert's cashes in on the trend with a version as bland and monotonous as every other date shake in town. It's a shame, considering that Lappert's actually makes one of the best date ice creams in town. It's called Date Casablanca, and it's also one of their best flavors: Vanilla ice cream mixed with chewy pieces of dried date and ribboned with sticky veins of caramel. It's date heaven. Inexplicably, Lappert's doesn't use Date Casablanca in their date shakes. Instead, they make it with plain vanilla ice cream, a few dates and bland caramel. If you want to experience the full force of the date/ice cream marriage, you won't do better than Lapppert's Date Casablanca ice cream, just stay away from their date milkshake.
(NOTE: Call first. They're closed on Tuesdays, and the summer hours vary from day to day.)