The Best New Ice Cream Shops in Los Angeles: Summer 2017

Salt & Straw Ice Cream
Salt & Straw Ice Cream | Photo: Salt & Straw

Premium ice cream has become readily available in Los Angeles, meaning most neighborhoods can now claim a viable option within - gasp - walking distance, or at least a short drive. The increasingly dynamic L.A. ice cream scene capitalizes on unshackled culinary creativity and seasonal ingredients, two of our strengths. Ice cream artisans have been both homegrown and drawn to the city’s rising star from points north and east. Discover 11 frozen favorites, most of which have debuted since 2015 and follow in the sweet footsteps of beloved businesses like Fosselman’s, Scoops and Sweet Rose Creamery.

Waffles and cream at Chelo Creamery | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Chelo Creamery

The eastern San Gabriel Valley got some frozen love in 2015 when Jeannette Chang opened Chelo Creamery in a City of Industry strip mall. The space features white subway tile, wood plank flooring, and an aqua and stainless steel counter. Dessert options consist of gelato, sorbet, frozen custard, shaved snow. We enjoyed waffles and cream with a pleasantly chewy mochi waffle topped with a scoop of gelato. Guava cobbler, pumpkin spice latte, or Earl grey lavender, perhaps? Chelo rolls are the latest trend to pop up at the store, with flavored base scraped from a frozen tray and formed into coils. Cactus bloom, for example, combines dragon fruit, jackfruit, and chia seeds. If that’s not enough variety, you’re sweet tooth’s probably unquenchable, though you can get Italian ice or sundaes.

Yuzu ice cream with boysenberry at Ginger’s Divine Ice Creams | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Ginger’s Divine Ice Creams

Owner Margaret Dietl Schniderman has red hair, making her a ginger in the Australian sense of the word. She opened her “divine” ice cream shop in western Culver City in January 2017. A white façade and sidewalk tables with yellow umbrellas and chairs give way to cold cases, an exhibition kitchen, and blackboard menus touting California ingredients. Fun flavors include “The Dude” (white Russian), billionaire brownie, LAMILL cold brew coffee, blueberry mascarpone, and brown sugar bourbon with a finishing kick. Cups, sundaes, sugar cones are sandwiches (plain, dipped or topped) are all in play. Fluffy, tangy yuzu ice cream with boysenberry ribbons works well with a house-made waffle cone (or cup). Ice cream pops come in flavors like banana curry and blue Cookie Monster, which resembles the “Sesame Street” character.

Ihwamun Ice Cream

Ihwamun is a Korean-inspired ice cream parlor located on the ground floor of Little Tokyo Galleria. The name and plum blossom logo pays tribute to the Korean Empire, which lasted from 1897-1910. The space features a mural of flowering plum tree, wood counters and stools, and a blackboard menu. An organic base is made in-house with cream, milk, sugar, and eggs, fueling flavors like red bean, black sesame, fruit-flecked green plum, and roasted soy ingeolmi, a riff on kinako coated rice cakes, a popular Korean dessert. Choco Pie is a chocolate marshmallow play on Moon Pie, in ice cream form. On Fridays and Saturdays, Ihwamun makes vivid green seaweed waffle cones.

Kansha Creamery

Elaine Yukari and brother James Tatsuya opened Kansha Creamery in 2015. Since then, their small-batch Gardena ice cream parlor near the 405 freeway has given 50 cents from the sale of each item to Children’s Hunger Fund. Kansha means "gratitude" in Japanese, and the siblings have certainly given back to the community. The space features blue-grey walls, white subway tiles, wood flooring and counter, and ice cream made in-house daily with Straus Family Creamery dairy. They typically only churn five flavors daily, which could include Mr. Universal (caramel and oatmeal cookies), kuro goma (black sesame) or Myint chip (mint, Thai basil, holy basil, and chocolate chip). They make waffle cones on premises and also craft sundaes like “magic turtle” and matcha parfait.

Kiddos Creamery

Jon Shin relinquished his role as Nobu West Hollywood’s lead pastry chef and cousin Jeff Im left his Nordstrom sales position to open Kiddos Creamery in a freeway-friendly Glendale strip mall in September 2016. Shin’s older brother calls the duo “kiddos,” though the cousins take an adult approach to ice cream at their airy white-walled shop. Kiddos Creamery fills 12 bins daily, maintaining five constant flavors: honey milk, matcha, Tahitian vanilla, milk & cookies, and some form of chocolate. Two new flavors rotate weekly, which during our visit meant salted caramel Samoas and Golden Road coffee stout. Farmers market sorbets might involve berry yuzu and strawberry passion fruit. Ice cream is available in floats, cups, pints and house-made cones that straddle the line between waffle and sugar and come in three creative flavors: chocolate, matcha and vanilla. They also use monaka (rice flour) wafers in sandwiches.

McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams - Los Feliz

McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams has been a Santa Barbara institution since 1949. Under the direction of owner Michael Palmer and chef/wife/partner Eva Ein, the company has upgraded their hometown presence and now runs L.A. scoop shops in the historic Grand Central Market, Los Feliz and Studio City. McConnell’s is at an advantage by operating a Santa Barbara dairy, creating a base in-house from California milk. Maybe their most delectable flavor involves sea salt, crushed Guittard chocolate chunk cookies, and cream. Tangy Eureka lemon folded with Oregon marionberry preserves is another sensational option, as is double peanut butter chip with rich peanut butter and bittersweet chocolate shards. Thoughtful sundaes, ice cream cookie sandwiches, and shakes are also big draws.

Rori’s Artisanal Creamery - Santa Monica

Rori Trovato launched her ice cream concept in Santa Barbara in 2012 and now has locations in Montecito, West Hollywood and Santa Monica. The Santa Monica location has a glass front, overhead menu and orange stools at tiny wood tables. Order at the counter, which resembles an old-style fridge. Cups, waffle cones, sundaes, shakes, and house-baked cookies all provide a platform for rich, creative ice cream. Seasonal flavors might include New Hampshire maple pecan or white chocolate candy cane bark. Core flavors include vanilla bean and brown sugar banana. We were particularly enamored with the ice cream sandwich featuring black pepper pistachio ice cream and buttery house-baked Snickerdoodles involving light cinnamon, great give and winning crumble.

Salt & Straw - Larchmont Village

Portland phenom Salt & Straw, from Kim Malek and chef/cousin Tyler Malek, started their L.A. expansion in Larchmont Village in 2014 and now has branches in the Downtown L.A. Arts District, Studio City, Venice and West Hollywood. Their signature look features awnings with mismatched stripes and solids and old timey memorabilia on shelves. Salt & Straw touts one of the deepest flavor rosters in the city. “Classic” L.A. flavors include black olive brittle & goat cheese, roasted strawberry & toasted white chocolate, and almond brittle with salted ganache. Inspiration comes from the seasons, constant collaborations, and monthly themes. Around Halloween, you might find “spooktacular” flavors like Dracula’s Blood Pudding, made with blood pudding, chicken liver, and spices. February, which centers on Valentine’s Day, brings collaborations with SoCal chocolatiers like Compartes and Twenty Four Blackbirds. Sundaes also get funky.

Wanderlust Creamery | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Wanderlust Creamery - Tarzana

Food scientist and successful cocktail pro Adrienne Nicole Borlongan teamed with lawyer JP Lopez on Wanderlust Creamery in Tarzana to end 2015. The business recently expanded to Atwater Village. The Tarzana original houses white walls, milk jar lanterns, and a micro-dairy that produces the base and all the flavors, many of which are based on Borlongan’s global explorations. Iceland inspired pretzel + caramelized rugbrauo crumb. The Mediterranean yielded fig leaf + pistachio. The U.K. brought Wanderlust Earl Grey sundae with bergamot infused olive oil and Maldon sea salt. Cones are crafted in flavors like matcha, brown butter vanilla, and eye-popping purple ube.

Ice cream in a waffle bowl at Long Beach Creamery | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Long Beach Creamery

Dina Amadril founded Long Beach Creamery in a Bixby Knolls strip mall in 2015. Her community focused shop honors contributors to her successful Kickstarter campaign on the wall. The space features a black and white tile floor, clear view into the glass-fronted clean room, and blackboard menu featuring rotating flavors like cajeta chai and cashew fennel chip. Long Beach Creamery excels at layering flavors. For example, “Huskaberry Finn” references Mark Twain’s mischievous character and features sweet corn ice cream swirled with blackberry and blueberry jam. Strawberry cheesecake is also swirly, starring cream cheese ice cream, roasted strawberry jam, and crushed Graham cracker crust. Boost with a brittle, sweet waffle cone bowl. LBC also goes big with ice cream cakes.