I scream, you scream, we all scream for something cold because it's blazing hot outside. Ice cream is a natural go-to, but in Los Angeles why settle for just any ice cream? Here are five spots serving up frozen treats that are as unique as they are refreshing.
Frozen Fruit Co.
The good old ice cream truck just got an upgrade. Frozen Fruit Co., which swirls plant-based soft serve in a Santa Monica store, just launched a colorful, fruit-emblazoned truck. Letting good ingredients speak for themselves, the truck serves big scoops of vegan flavors made from simple, pure ingredients such as fruit, coconut milk, cacao and dates. The truck's dreamy creamy chocolate mint flavor has been so popular that it's now served in the store, too. The truck rotates other satisfying refined sugar–free flavors such as passionfruit and salted date and offers toppings — nuts, almond and peanut butters, vegan marshmallows, coconut and granola. All truck scoops come garnished with a flower, but for $1 more, get your ice cream served in a very Instagrammable coconut shell that's yours to keep. The truck is soft-launching in Studio City and often found on Ventura Boulevard near Laurel Canyon, but check its Instagram for more details on times and locations.
Frozen Fruit Co. shop, 729 Montana Ave., Suite 2, Santa Monica; (424) 744-8860. Truck: Soft-launching at Ventura and Laurel Canyon boulevards, Studio City. frozenfruitco.com.
Want to travel the world but have a tight budget? You're in luck. Wanderlust's internationally inspired flavors let you globe-trot without all the hassle. Its original ice cream flavors include sticky rice and mango (vegan) and the trademarked ube malted crunch, which blends the Filipino sweet purple yam with classic American malted milk. August flavors include the Parisian-inspired croissant and coffee (cafe au lait ice cream with pieces of flaky, buttery pastry) and Armenian green walnut (fresh cheese ice cream with Armenian candied green walnuts). Wanderlust also just debuted its chocolate-dipped Escape Bars ($6.50) exclusively at Smorgasburg, with flavors such as Japanese Neapolitan (hojicha — green tea — ice cream dipped in matcha white chocolate, drizzled with black sesame white chocolate, covered in puffed rice and black sesame seeds).
609 Lincoln Blvd., Suite B, Venice; (424) 581-6093; 3134 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village; (323) 522-3082; and 18511 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana; (818) 774-9888; wanderlustcreamery.com. Smorgasburg, 785 Bay St., downtown.
In case you didn't know this spot's stance on ice cream sandwiches, its full name — CREAM is an acronym for Cookies Rule Everything Around Me — may give you a clue. Build your own sweet sandwich with warm cookies such as snickerdoodles, double chocolate chip, CREAMfetti or the new salted caramel pecan (vegan and gluten-free options, too). Fill a sammy with ice cream flavors including cin-ful churro, birthday cake or something else classic or off-the-wall. The seasonal summer flavor is pink peach bellini, a non-alcoholic, pink champagne–flavored ice cream with bits of real peaches and nectar — cheers! And, of course, you can add toppings including nuts, candy, sprinkles and more. If cookies aren't your thing, build your ice cream sandwich with brownies, waffles or do'sants (a donut-croissant hybrid, à la the Cronut). Or go rogue and get a non-sandwiched scoop on a cone or in a “taco” waffle shell, milkshake or float.
11135 Magnolia Blvd., Suite 170, North Hollywood; (818) 993-1759; 9000 Reseda Blvd., Northridge; (818) 993-1788; and 960 Ontario Mills Drive, Unit C, Ontario; (909) 466-8686; creamnation.com.
No ode to frozen treats in L.A. is complete without mentioning the luscious and meticulously crafted gelato and sorbet at this gem. Rome native Leo Bulgarini makes his gelato from scratch without any added flavors or colors and travels the globe to find ingredients that meet his high standards. This is best exemplified in his famous pistachio gelato, made only with true Sicilian pistachios from the Bronte region. The yogurt gelato with olive oil is an unexpected but perfect pairing. Fruit sorbets vary by season; right now stone fruit like peach and nectarine are in the case, with plum coming soon. If you're not a sorbet fan, sampling one of the pure, smooth sorbets here could change your mind — it's like biting into one of the best pieces of fruit you've ever had.
749 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena; (626) 791-6174, bulgarinigelato.com.
Helmed by Top Chef season 14 winner Brooke Williamson and her husband, this artisanal ice cream shop serves up nostalgic flavors and “frozen novelties with a twist” using local farmers market ingredients. Everything at this frozen free-for-all is made from scratch on-site — sorbet, ice cream, soft serve, popsicles, ice cream pops, sundaes, floats, milkshakes, chocolate-dipped bananas and waffle cones. If you like piña coladas … you can get them here in ice cream form. Signature flavors include Earl Grey, cereal killer (with chunks of classic kids cereals), and lemon with house-made strawberry pop rocks. If you want to go nuts while embracing the ubiquitous unicorn trend, get the unicorn sundae with 10 scoops and eight toppings such as house-made hot toffee, garnished with a chocolate-dipped waffle cone, aka “uni-cone,” and a sparkler. In addition to the brick-and-mortars, you can find their cart on Sundays at the Mar Vista Farmers' Market.
119 Culver Blvd., Playa del Rey; (310) 683-5019; 12222 Venice Blvd., Mar Vista; (424) 289-9552; smallbatchicecreamery.com.