You’ve trekked up to Altadena for the oft-praised-by-Jonathan-Gold pistachio gelato at Bulgarini, sampled the robust and funky flavors from Portland transplant Salt & Straw, and binged one too many times on the Brown Bread at perennial favorite Scoops. You’re on the hunt for new and undiscovered creamy confections. Where to?
Veganism, gluten intolerance, soy allergies: dietary restrictions are as common as unsold screenplays in LA. And while food limitations can be a drag, Cocobella has managed to Pretty-Woman them into an array of delectable desserts. Alice and Belinda scoop up coconut milk and cane sugar-based ice cream in a robin’s egg blue-walled shop at the corner of Fountain and Vine. Choose from classics like mint chocolate chip and salted caramel or get adventurous with black sesame and unicorn magic - - pink vanilla with marshmallows and gluten-free animal cookies.
Holy Roly: Koreatown
Thailand has given the world the gift of rolled ice cream and Koreatown is joining the party. At Holy Roly, the fantastical creations are made to order, with the cream base flattened onto a frozen plate, then rolled into cylinders that look like whimsical tea roses. Subtle flavors like Earl Grey and Matcha balance out over-the-top presentations, replete with toasted marshmallows on bamboo sticks, pocky, and mochi, all nestled in. The creations take time, but the Instagram-worthy results are worth the wait.
Little Damage: Downtown
“Almond Charcoal” sounds like an acceptable form of ice cream in a dystopian future, but the future is now: you can get the (actually delicious!) flavor in soft-serve form at Downtown’s Little Damage, alongside other unconventional contenders like Beet and Mango Sticky Rice. With cheeky slogans lit up in neon and a free photo booth in the back, Little Damage is making a trip to Dairy Queen for soft-serve look terribly rustic. (No disrespect to DQ). And if your sweet tooth wants to go goth, pair the dark gray of the Almond Charcoal with a black charcoal waffle cone and see if it doesn’t summon Siouxsie and the Banshees.
Wanderlust: Atwater Village
Bit by the travel bug but can’t find the time (or dollar bills) to hit up the dozens of countries on your list? Take the Glendale Boulevard exit off the 5 Freeway and journey into Wanderlust instead. Adrienne Borlongan and Jon-Patrick Lopez have crafted an array of flavors inspired by their travels, dream destinations, and the diversity of ethnic flavors found in our own LA backyard. Try the bright purple Ube (Filipino yam) Malted Crunch, the Thai Tea with clove and star anise, or the chocolate Abuelita with cinnamon and chili. Can’t decide? Order the Around the World ice cream flight: fourteen mini cones topped with fourteen internationally mouthwatering flavors.
Mashti Malone’s: Hollywood
Okay, Mashti Malone’s is actually a long-standing classic. But if you’re new to LA, or just visiting, you’re not likely to duck into this run-down strip mall a few blocks from the Walk of Fame. The fading sign in Farsi, flanked with Irish shamrocks, only adds an element of confusion. The bewilderment only increases inside: the place looks unremarkable, aside from a six couplet poem plastered to the wall, entitled “The Legend of Mashti Malone”. According to this legend, Mashti was a humble farmer until and a vision of saffron rosewater ice cream appeared to him out of Heaven. Listen up, cynics: one creamy bite of this Persian delight will make a believer out of you. The Saffron Rosewater is fragrant and luscious and the Sour Cherry Faloodeh (an icy sorbet with rice vermicelli) is the perfect antidote to a hot, smoggy day. Praise.
Ice Cream Plus: West Hollywood
Next to an El Pollo Loco and bearing an indistinctive name, this mom and pop place run by the Kim family is a dark horse in the dessert race. The “ice cream” is more like gelato and it’s velvety enough to knock any gelateria in Florence off its feet. The place has a cult following of people who’ve defected from flashier foodie havens to this low-key, low-price, and high-quality hidden gem. Knowing their LA audience, Ice Cream Plus carries dairy free and sugar free options, which miraculously manage to retain rich and creamy textures. The fresh strawberry tastes just like summer in a cone. Top it with “Chipmunk” the curiously named chocolate and cookie flavor concoction. And don’t be put off by the odd collection of sandwiches and snacks served alongside the ice cream case. In fact, get the Tuna Melt while you’re there: hands down the best in the City of Angels.
Need more ways to cool off? Take a dip in Cali's Burney Falls: