See the updated list of our Best Ice Cream and Gelato Shops in Los Angeles.
Even though July is National Ice Cream Month, nobody needs an excuse to indulge in creamy cones, cups and sandwiches any time of year. Ronald Reagan was the president to drum up this designation in 1984, decreeing that the third Sunday of the month would be National Ice Cream Day. He wanted to recognize the cold treat that 90% of the U.S. population enjoys regularly. Turn the page for the scoop on the best ice cream and gelato shops in town to visit on July 21 — this year's National Ice Cream Day — or any other day, for that matter.
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 $5 with about 10 cookie types to choose from as well as flavors such as jasmine, nutella, blueberry crumble pie and their most popular pick, banana dulce de leche. 7290 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; 323-939-6455.?
9. N'ice Cream:
Recently voted one of the best desserts around the world by Travel + Leisure, N'ice Cream holds two prime leases in Venice: one on Abbot Kinney and the other on the boardwalk. Owners Laura Nielsen and Christian Toxboe moved here from Denmark in 2008 to open an ice cream shop, and they fell in love with Venice. Check N'ice Cream's website for a list of their 16 daily flavors, which range from fruity strawberry banana to nutty pistachio and hazelnut chip. The No. 1 order is salted caramel, but most of the flavors run low come closing time. 1410 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; 310-396-7161 (plus three other locations).
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 less 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. 8588 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City; 310-424-5559.
7. Pazzo Gelato:
Sitting at one of Pazzo's outdoor tables along Sunset Blvd. in the heart of Sunset Junction with their sea salt caramel gelato in a cup is a pretty great way to spend a summer day in this town. Their website's list of flavors is three pages long, including avocado with cayenne pepper gelato and pluot sorbet, with a note tagged at the end about custom orders, stating, “There's nothing we can't create.” Wind a ways down Sunset from Silverlake to Echo Park to their second location for happy hour with $1.50 scoops (limit two) to choose from 18 flavors from 4 to 5 p.m. every day. Keep your eyes peeled for a third Pazzo location at FIGat7th opening this August. 3827 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles; 323-662-1410; 1910 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles; 213-353-9263.?
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.” 17 Kersting Ct., Sierra Madre; 626-355-9650.?
5. Scoops Westside:
Two and a half years ago, food blogger and USC alumnus Matthew “Mattatouille” Kang decided to bring Scoops to the westside. He approached Tai Kim, the owner of the original Scoops location on Heliotrope Drive near Melrose Avenue, about expanding his innovative ice cream empire. Scoops Westside serves up a rotating list of regular and non-dairy flavors, boasting creative combinations using multiple ingredients, every day except Sunday. According to Kang, that's 50 flavors a week. The only constant on the menu is customer favorite brown brown bread, caramel ice cream with candied Grape-Nuts. 3400 Overland Ave., Los Angeles; 323-405-7055; 712 N. Heliotrope Dr., Los Angeles; 323-906-2649; 5105 York Blvd., Los Angeles.
Across the street from Pasadena City College stands Bittersweet Treats, a pastry shop overflowing with chocolate truffles, salted pecan toffee and all sorts of mouth-watering dessert creations. At the far end of the counter is the narrow ice cream case with eight flavors made daily with whole milk, heavy cream, cane sugar and egg yolks. Customers stick to their go-to flavors, like early grey and mint chip (or mint brownie). The rest of the menu is sprinkled with adventurous choices like honey lavender, sassafras and cinnamon basil. Owner Danielle Keene is constantly trying out new ice cream flavors, such as white corn, which turned out to be a big hit. 1731 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; 626-796-8655.?
The Third Street location of Carmela, just west of the Grove, is tucked snugly in between 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 six-month-old shop carries goodies, like cones, toffee and cookies, made in their creamery and original shop in Pasadena. Their 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 their in-demand mint flavor: The fresh mint leaves are steeped in the milk. 7920 W. Third St., Los Angeles; 323-944-0232; 2495 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena; 626-797-1405.
2. Bulgarini Gelato:
Leo Bulgarini is a gelato connoisseur. He studied gelato-making in Italy and imports his almonds from Sicily and chocolate from France. For the new macadamia flavor that's in the works, he traveled to Hawaii. At their original Altadena location, foreign films such as Matrimonio all'italiana, are screened free for the public every Saturday night at sundown through August 31. The newer Culver City location looks more like a coffee shop, as it in fact was before Bulgarini took it over. 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. 8686 Washington Blvd., Culver City; 310-815-1723; 749 E. Altadena Dr., Altadena; 626-791-6174.?
This ice cream shop on the edge of the Brentwood Country Mart had to limit its per-person tastings to two to keep its line, which often streams out into the parking lot, moving right along. The aroma of sweet cookies wafts through the air as the staff mixes the chocolate batter for the homemade cones. Sweet Rose Creamery carries at least 15 flavors daily, which are inspired by what's in season, such as this summer's nectarine sorbet. 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. On the menu are also 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. Look out for another Sweet Rose popping up in Santa Monica soon. 225 26th St., Santa Monica; 310-260-2663.?
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