With our city’s endless summer stretching incrementally into infinity, it can’t be a coincidence that the ice cream business is booming. Why not focus on the positive and use the heat as an excuse to have another scoop or two? Ranging from local purveyors, like Small Batch, to folks from out of town, like Three Twins of San Francisco and Portland’s Salt & Straw, everyone wants a lick of the action here in balmy Los Angeles. With flavor profiles ranging from simple favorites to exotic, seasonal choices, these ice cream shops showcase a whole range of options.
And there are more places coming. Abbott Kinney's Beach House Creamery is set to open any day. According to their Facebook page, their "all-natural flavors are churned in small batches using organic dairy and locally sourced ingredients in classic, simple and delicious varieties that remind us what it was like to be a kid with a cone without a care in the world." Also planning a late 2014 opening is Big Gay Ice Cream. This New York-based company started as a truck and now has two brick and mortars in Manhattan. Big Gay Ice Cream focuses on soft serve with unusual toppings, like elderflower syrup and wasabi pea dust.
7. Atticus Creamery & Pies
If ice cream isn't enough for you, Atticus Creamery & Pies has pies and even cookies to fulfill any sweet cravings you might have. The ice creams, like everything else in the small shop, are made daily in small batches. Atticus scoops up classic, goodie-laden options, such as red velvet and cookies and cream. More adult palates can also indulge with more sophisticated fare, like lemon lavender and Earl Grey tea. Find salted caramel offerings in both the pie and ice cream, augmented by caramel popcorn pieces.10893 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles; 909-701-0666.
Ice cream as health food — now there’s an intriguing thought. This non-dairy, organic ice cream shop uses raw coconut cream as the base for its flavors, made daily. With raw honey used for the sweetener, all of the different kinds of ice cream use only five ingredients or less. The simplest flavor, raw coconut cream with raw honey, brings to mind the simplicity of the classic, now defunct Haagen-dazs honey vanilla. Kippy’s! also serves up unusual tastes (date) and kid pleasers (chocolate). The texture is reminiscent of sorbet, with an icier texture than regular ice cream. In fact, this coconut-based ice cream is billed as being so healthy that Kippy’s! advertises a four-day ice cream cleanse that will purportedly do wonders for your digestion, remove toxins from your body and help you lose weight. Whether or not any of those claims are based in fact is unclear. What is clear is that Kippy’s! is good for satisfying your ice cream cravings. 326 Lincoln Blvd., Venice; 310-399-4871.
5. Gelateria Uli
The flavors at Gelateria Uli seem to burst from the cone. The strawberry sorbetto brings the full weight of fresh berries to bear in your mouth, like an iced, muddled bushel picked at the height of summer. Located in the Spring Arcade building downtown next to Guisados tacos, and open since April, this shop rotates 16 flavors a day of gelato and sorbetto from an extended, ever-growing list of possibilities. In fact, if you suggest a flavor they like the sound of, Uli’s gives you a free pint. The Gelateria takes plenty of risks with flavors, from the bracing rosemary-hazelnut-almond to bee pollen to white chocolate-pumpkin seed, studded through with whole seeds. The affogato is also truly splendid. 541 S. Spring St., Los Angeles; 213-900-4717.
4. Small Batch at Playa Provisions
Having opened in May as one quarter of the Playa Provisions complex, Small Batch continues to churn out delicious, homey ice cream creations. One of their best items is the gargantuan ice cream sandwich, with flavors that change daily. One terrific version is the homemade, chewy oatmeal cookie filled with marshmallow ice cream; and the peanut butter cookie and chocolate peanut butter ice cream sandwich will appeal to anyone with a Reese’s jones. The ice creams and toppings are made in-house, with an emphasis on cozy, unintimidating flavors like chocolate malted crunch ice cream and Bourbon caramel topping. Specials, like the choco choco peanut butter tacos (the shell is like a waffle cone, only in the shape of a hard taco shell) and the banana Nutella fudgesicle pop up regularly. 119 Culver Blvd., Los Angeles; 310-683-5019.
3. Salt & Straw
All the way from Portland and open since Sept. 13 in Larchmont, Salt & Straw brings a little bit of flair to the local ice cream scene. With flavors like tomato water and Ojai olive oil sherbet, and avocado and strawberry sherbet, this is definitely not your grandmother’s ice creamery. The company also creates seasonal flavors, like essence of ghost (available October 24-31), which co-owner Tyler Malek describes as “an imagination of what a ghost would taste like,” and temporary tastes, like the loaded baked potato, a mixture of sour cream ice cream, onion caramel potato cookie dough and bacon. For those who like to sample, you can get a flight of flavors, which includes four choices for ten bucks. Other sweetly sensational options from the drink side of things: a lavender bitters and spruce cola float and a barrel-aged maple syrup and walnut shake. Everything for the Los Angeles shop is made from scratch at Salt & Straw’s kitchen in Boyle Heights. 240 N. Larchmont Blvd., Los Angeles; 323-446-0485.
2. Three Twins Ice Cream
At Three Twins in Santa Monica, co-owner Siamak Shafa likes to focus on the basics: “This is true ice cream, real dairy, good stuff. The strawberry tastes like strawberry, the cookies and cream tastes like cookies and cream and the coffee tastes like coffee.” And the coffee float at Three Twins will bring you to your knees. A mix of Stumptown’s cold brew with two scoops of the flavor of your choice – sea salted caramel is a popular one, as is Mexican chocolate (heavy with cinnamon), this ice cream float will wake you up and mellow you out simultaneously. If you ask, Shafa will also top you off with whipped cream. Expect seasonal changes to the menu: Until Halloween, look for Orangescream Float, a mixture of Virgil’s orange cream soda with Madagascar vanilla. 2726 Main St., Santa Monica; 310-310-399-8946.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
1. McConnell’s Ice Cream
With a line that often stretches alongside Lupita’s Seafood (soon to be an oyster bar), past Eggslut, and threatening to spill onto Broadway, McConnell’s is proving a perfect fit for Grand Central Market, having only recently opened, on July 28. Based in Santa Barbara since 1949, this company has its own dairy using milk and cream from grass-grazed cows. The result in their desserts is a mixture of old and new flavors that are extremely creamy and rich without being too sweet. The McConnell’s version of the now requisite (but still worthwhile) salty caramel is a salted caramel chip with enough depth of flavor to approach the intensity of coffee. The chopped up, bittersweet Guittard chocolate balances out the sweetness making this a decidedly sophisticated flavor. The Earl Grey tea float is another unusual and delicious choice. Grand Central Market, 317 S. Broadway Ave., Los Angeles.