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What could possibly sound better than a cone of dairy-free froyo or a delicious ice-cream sandwich on a warm, gorgeous day? After a full day of cruisin’ through the streets of L.A., lounging by the city’s best beaches, hiking through the hills, or pedaling along the scenic bike paths, you’ll be ready to refresh and rejuvenate. If a cold kombucha or iced latte isn’t cutting it, cool down with a unique summer treat from these top L.A. dessert shops.
Where to Get the Best Frozen Treats in Los Angeles
Happy Ice is the ultimate spot to try water ice (similar to Italian ice). Although it has the smooth, creamy texture of ice cream, it’s completely dairy-free and vegan-friendly. Made using a secret recipe from Philadelphia, this artistic L.A. twist on a classic summer dessert is a vibrant explosion of colors and flavors. Crush on the delectable Sour Apple Lush, Pineapple Potion, Cherry Bomb, Lucky Lemon, or Mango Madness—or choose three flavors in a single cup to craft your own creation.
So, if you’re feeling happy (or sappy), make sure to visit the retail store on Melrose Avenue. You can also stop by the two mobile trucks on either Western Avenue in L.A. or on East Rosecrans Avenue in Compton if it’s more convenient for you.
We all scream for (vegan) ice cream when heading to the fabulous Cocobella Creamery. With just one bite, you’ll be on your way to heaven. Did we mention that all the shop’s products are dairy- and gluten-free? Well, you’d never know it. Made with a coconut- or oat-milk base, cane sugar, and vanilla, the fantastic vegan flavors—such as Cookie Monsta, chocolate brownie, blueberry pie, and raspberry cheesecake—will have you ditching the dairy for good.
Featured in Cosmopolitan and Los Angeles Magazine, Cocobella Creamery is also home to the Sunny Monkey signature sundae—a decadent treat featuring brownie, sunbutter cup, and chocolate chip cookie dough ice creams, hot fudge, whipped cream, toasted almonds, and sliced bananas—and the oh-so refreshing kombucha float. When in L.A., make sure to stop by the Vine Street location to attain nirvana.
Saffron & Rose Ice Cream
If you haven’t tried Saffron & Rose, you’re definitely missing out. Founder Ali Kashani-Rafye is a master of making uniquely flavored, Persian-style ice cream. While there are over 30 delectable flavors to choose from, the signature offering is saffron and pistachio, which has been a customer favorite since Saffron & Rose opened in the 1970s.
Kashani-Rafye prides himself on using only organic and natural ingredients in his handcrafted concoctions. The Persian classics—such as faloodeh, date, and white rose—are bound to have you coming back for more. There are plenty of fruity flavors, including fig and cranberry, and floral flavors like pink rose and orange blossom, too. (The Westwood storefront even has several vegan ice-cream options.) Whether you try an exotic flavor or stick with a more traditional one, you won’t regret visiting this divine ice-cream shop.
This iconic Westwood dessert shop is known for its freshly baked cookies, premium ice cream, and hot-fudge sundaes. You may end up standing in line for a bit (okay, sometimes it might be up to an hour), but the wait is worth it. The ice-cream sandwiches here are truly amazing, and you can mix and match to satisfy whatever your sweet tooth desires; with 10 handmade cookies and 12 ice-cream flavors to choose from, you’ll never get bored of this combo. Offering $0.50 cookies and $3.00 ice-cream sandwiches, Diddy Riese is definitely the place to be when you need to get a sugar fix.
Afters Ice Cream
Home of the famous Milky Bun, Afters Ice Cream is legendary in L.A. and is one of the best ice-cream brands in California—between the sweet treats, culture, and cool swag, this ice creamery is unlike any other. The Milky Bun, which has been ruining diets since 2014, really plays with your taste buds. A mix of hot and cold, this heated glazed bun is stuffed with crave-worthy ice-cream flavors of your choice—which may include the Cookie Monster, milk and cereal, or jasmine milk tea—and sprinkled with toppings. It’s not just about eating ice cream; it’s an existential experience.
Complete with coveted Anti Diet Diet Club swag (T-shirts, hats, stickers, and more), Afters Ice Cream definitely owns the market for the best vibe in the world of sweets. Given there are over 20 locations throughout the greater Los Angeles area, there’s absolutely no reason not to go.
Mateo’s Ice Cream
With vibrant colors, bursts of flavor, and an Oaxacan twist, Mateo’s Ice Cream is a popular destination in L.A. The shop specializes in paletas—Mexican ice pops made from real fruit—and offers over 29 delicious flavors such as pitaya, soursop, mango with chili, guava, pineapple, and myrtle fruit. It’s a perfect way to enjoy something sweet but also healthy(ish).
If you’re in the mood for a classic ice-cream cone, Mateo’s has you covered, too. There are more than 25 fruit cream ice-cream flavors with a south-of-the-border twist, including smoked milk, horchata with walnuts, coconut pineapple, and mezcal with dried fruit. Mouth watering yet? Head to one of Mateo’s four locations throughout the L.A. area.
Founded by a close-knit group of friends who followed a plant-based lifestyle and listened to a lot of hip-hop, this anti-dairy ice-cream shop is vegan-approved and offers mostly gluten- and nut-free flavors. Hug Life is home to cookie ice-cream sandwiches; a bomb brownie a la mode; and of course, unique flavors such as mango chamoy, banana boy, O.G. berry, cookie butter, Thai tea, and taro. This ice-cream brand currently has three locations: Garden Grove, Long Beach, and Orange. So, visit the shop closest to you and make your dessert dreams come true!
Mashti Malone’s Ice Cream
If you haven’t visited Mashti Malone’s Ice Cream on North La Brea Avenue yet, you’ll definitely want to add it to your L.A. bucket list. Mashti Malone’s provides the Los Angeles region with fabulous, Persian-influenced flavors such as Alphonso mango, saffron rosewater, Persian cucumber, and lavender. The shop even serves the quintessential Persian-style wafers alongside the delectable scoops of rich, creamy ice cream.
Try the wafer ice-cream sandwich, featuring the Madagascar vanilla with crushed Oreos flavor, for a delicious fusion of American and Persian desserts. (We also recommend trying the baklava loghmeh or the orange blossom with pistachio.) If you’re trying to stay away from dairy, check out the light, refreshing sorbets—the sour cherry rosewater, pomegranate and lemon, and Herbal Snow are all incredible.
Offering a healthy alternative to regular soft-serve, the dairy-free Yoga-urt serves over 25 rotating flavors. Made from scratch using all-organic ingredients, a hand-squeezed almond-milk base, and added probiotics, the soft-serve here will satisfy your sweet tooth while benefiting your body.
Yoga-urt provides more than just your typical flavors; spice things up and try the True Tahini NSA, Ganesha’s Sweet Greens NSA, Radiant Golden Rose, maple banana pancake, pumpkin spice, or cherry amaretto. No matter which soft-serve flavor you try, you can’t miss out on the shop’s claim to fame: gluten- and dairy-free waffle cones made in-house daily.
Other signature treats include ice-cream sandwiches with chocolate chip cookies and soft-serve pies with crusts made from almond flour. If you’re into sweet drinks, Yoga-urt’s smoothies, brownie shakes, and kombucha float are also fabulous options. So, stop by to support this locally owned, eco-friendly business found in Glendale and Echo Park.