The Summer Sweets You Need to Try in L.A.

Photo courtesy of Afters Ice Cream.

The Summer Sweets You Need to Try in L.A.

By Ani Karibian
July 10, 2020

As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe.

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 serves up creative takes on Philly-style water ice, an ultra-refreshing, dairy-free treat. Photo courtesy of Happy Ice.

Happy Ice

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.

Cocobella Creamery's unique ice-cream flavors are so delicious, it's impossible to tell they're vegan. Photo courtesy of Cocobella Creamery.

Cocobella Creamery

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.

At Saffron & Rose Persian Ice Cream, the options are so plentiful, it's difficult to decide on a flavor. Photo courtesy of Saffron & Rose.

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.

Diddy Riese has offered heavenly ice-cream sandwiches, hot-fudge sundaes, and fresh-baked cookies since 1983. Photo courtesy of Diddy Riese.

Diddy Riese

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 is famous for its Milky Bun: a heated glazed bun stuffed with scoops of ice cream. Photo courtesy of Afters Ice Cream.

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 Californiabetween 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. 

With an array of Mexican ice pops to choose from at Mateo's Ice Cream, there's something to satisfy any craving. Photo courtesy of Mateo's.

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.

The rich and decadent brownie a la mode at Hug Life is what sweet dreams are made of. Photo courtesy of Hug Life.

Hug Life

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!

Add a baklava loghmeh to your next scoop of Persian ice cream at Mashti Malone's. Photo courtesy of Mashti Malone's Ice Cream.

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. 

For a healthier soft-serve option, grab a gluten-free cone brimming with organic, dairy-free froyo from Yoga-urt. Photo courtesy of Yoga-urt.

Yoga-urt

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.


Ani Karibian

Ani Karibian

Ani is the content manager for California.com. She savors her time discovering California's hidden gems and writing about the hottest spots in town. She's got an unquenchable thirst for adventur…

See full bio

0 comments


author photo
Please enter text

You may also like

Dine

Loco for Cocoa: Where to Get Hot Chocolate in the San Francisco Bay Area

Whether you’re craving O.G. hot cocoa or a more adventurous version, here’s where to get the best hot chocolate in …...Read more

Dine

I Tried Olipop and This Is What You Need to Know

Read our honest review of Olipop, the popular fiber-packed, probiotic-laced sparkling tonic made in Oakland....Read more

Dine

Easy Fall Desserts You Can Make at Home

Satisfy your sweet tooth with these easy fall dessert recipes. From fall cheesecakes to apple desserts, these treats are bound …...Read more

Dine

The Fall Picnic Ideas That'll Help You Plan The Perfect Outdoor Meal

Savor the season in California with these fall picnic essentials and easy autumn picnic recipes....Read more