Food & Drink

The Best Artisan Ice Cream and Gelato Shops in LA

Published On 07/22/2014 Published On 07/22/2014
Leela Cyd

Salt & Straw

Larchmont & other locations

Two years ago, this Portland-based creamery introduced its fresh-made waffle cones, delicious ice cream, and long lines to LA. Now, every month, they highlight seasonal SoCal produce -- so summertime brings freshness like blueberry-studded Meyer lemon buttermilk and strawberry cilantro lime cheesecake.

McConnell's Fine Ice Creams

McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams

Downtown & Studio City

For years, your UCSB friends wouldn’t shut up about McConnell’s. But thanks to locations in Grand Central Market and Studio City, you now get to rave about their small-batch ice cream too. They’ve got churros con leche, chocolate almond brittle, and Turkish coffee, but our money’s on the peppermint stick -- which tastes like a frozen candy cane that melts on contact with your tongue.


Koreatown & West LA

Soft-serve tends to be lower in milk-fat than regular ice cream, but Honeymee’s has a creamy, luscious mouth-feel that deserves a call-out here. And in flavors like green tea and sea salt chocolate, the milkshakes are a must-try, too.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

Los Feliz

This Ohio-hailing creamery uses the same rich, velvety base (hint: it involves cream cheese!) for all its flavors, which are given sweet names like brambleberry crisp and Savannah buttermint.

Rori's Artisanal Creamery

Rori’s Artisanal Creamery

Santa Monica

Another Santa Barbara establishment helmed by a former pastry chef, Rori’s opened up a Westside outpost last year. Their ice cream is made with organic grass-fed milk and cream and focuses on sweet-leaning flavors, like honey almond crunch and root beer float.

Wanderlust Creamery

Wanderlust Creamery


The SFV’s got its own artisanal ice cream spot in Wanderlust, where everything’s inspired by travel destinations. You’ll find a rotating selection of exotic flavors like Thai sticky rice and mango or Icelandic pretzel and rugbrauø, cone flavors in ube or brown butter, and even one-of-a-kind toppings such as pandan rice crispies.

Beachy Cream

Beachy Cream

Santa Monica

All of Beachy Cream’s small-batch, concentrated flavors are made from scratch in their retro-inspired Santa Monica shop. Their organic ice cream sandwiches, including a candied ginger/molasses spice cookie pairing, are also perfect as to-go treats.




Right off PCH, this Italian chain makes traditional gelato that’s smooth and supple enough to merit a spot on this list. They’ve got all the usual suspects -- tiramisu, stracciatella, pistachio -- but the star is the crema di Grom featuring Battifollo cookies and Colombian chocolate chips.

Sweet Rose Creamery

Sweet Rose Creamery

Multiple locations

Sweet Rose’s mint chip tastes like you inhaled a delicious, ice cream-filled herb garden (get that for sure... that, or the summer corn... or the blueberry muffin... you're gonna be here for a while). Go heavy on the toppings -- most of them are made from scratch, which means quality marshmallows and shortbread bits.

Saffron & Rose


With flavors that sound like fragrance notes (saffron, rose, orange blossom, jasmine) and a consistency as dense and gooey as peanut butter (well, almost), this Persian-style ice cream spot is worth the line that sometimes snakes out onto Westwood Blvd.

Nina Suh at Love and Lemonade Photography



Even the lactose-intolerant get a nod from this unassuming Burbank joint. In addition to hawking out-of-the-box flavors like gingerbread stout, hibiscus prickly pear, and chili mango lime (plus made-to-order funnel cake sandwiches on Wednesdays), they also sell Lactaid pills -- so no one has to forfeit on a tasty scoop.

Oonagh Ryan Architects Inc.

Peddler’s Creamery


This bicycle-churned ice cream spot promises a free scoop if you pedal on stationary bikes for 15-20 minutes at 15 mph, which makes one batch of ice cream. But if you feel like sparing your thighs the workout, a scoop of amazing maple pancake batter or kumquat will set you back for less than a fiver.

Alyse Gilbert

Gelateria Uli


This beloved spot in the Spring Arcade building makes gelato smooth and creamy enough to pass for ice cream. All their classic flavor profiles are noteworthy, but go for the speculoos, which boasts a rich, cinnamon-y, caramelized flavor, and is loaded with crunchy biscuit bits.

Three Twins

Santa Monica

While everyone else is coming up with crazy-inventive flavors, Three Twins deals in perfectly delicious, organic basics-with-a-twist, like cookie-flecked lemon and mouthwatering milk and honey. But if crazy is calling your name, opt for one of the kitchen-sink sundaes with names like Slop Bucket or Cookie Monster.



Culver City & Pasadena

This architecture-inspired shop names many of its pre-packaged cookie/ice cream sammies after famous architects, like IM Pei-Nut Butter and Mies Vanilla Rohe. But their real specialty lies in sweet-meets-savory combos, including their seasonal “fast food” flavor -- salted Tahitian vanilla bean studded with chocolate malt balls and French fry crisps. You read that right.



Palms & other locations

Scoops’ street cred comes from their cult-favorite flavor (the Grape-Nuts-based brown bread), but they’re also known for incredible soy-based options (like maple cookie dough and salty chocolate) that some non-vegans even prefer to dairy-based options.


Sprinkles Ice Cream

Beverly Hills

It’s tough to one-up a cupcake vending machine, but Sprinkles has the dessert game on lockdown with red velvet waffle cones and slow-churned ice cream hybrids such as cupcake sammies and cupcake-blended shakes.

Jakob Layman

Mother Moo Creamery

Sierra Madre & Pasadena

This old-school parlor in Sierra Madre serves up generous scoops of feel-good flavors. Best mooooooooves are the brown sugar oatmeal and organic cornflakes, as well as their excellent made-in-house ice cream cakes and pies.



Pasadena & other locations

Want plain, old-fashioned strawberry or chocolate? Then don't go here! This ice cream shop -- which is run by a married couple who sources locally grown & organic herbs, spices, and flowers -- does up far more inspired flavors like rosemary with toasted pine nuts.

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1. Salt & Straw 1357 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90291

Small-batch ice cream in inventive flavors is the calling card at Portland-based chain Salt & Straw’s Venice shop. All of the batches are made in-house, and the flavors vary based on the seasons and the whims of the artisan ice cream makers. Expect flavors like avocado and honey lavender, but don’t be surprised if the Abbot Kinney shop, one of Salt & Straw’s few LA outposts, sells out by the end of the day.

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2. McConnell's Fine Ice Creams 317 S Broadway St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Originally hailing from Santa Barbara, this cult creamery has been serving up mouthwatering ice cream since 1949. Their LA outpost doesn’t disappoint, using locally sourced ingredients and homemade syrups to create imaginative flavors like Churros con Leche, Black Coffee Chip, and Eureka Lemon. The company prides itself on its sustainability efforts, so there’s no need to feel guilty when you’re perusing Grand Central Market and your sweet tooth kicks in. Go ahead and indulge.

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3. Honeymee 3377 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90017

Welcome to land of milk and honey. You’d think using the same two ingredients – fresh milk from local farms and 100% raw honey – would get boring, but the flavors at Honeymee continue to excite and surprise. If you’re in Koreatown, look for the classic black and white-striped awning of this chic little parlor and satiate your sugar cravings with their namesake scoop: a swirl of “true milk” ice cream garnished with a natural honeycomb chip.

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4. Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams 1954 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

When you combine sugar, spice, and everything all natural, you get Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. Although the company got its start in Ohio, Jeni’s Los Feliz outpost keeps up with the hype, serving creamy, luscious flavors like brown butter almond brittle and wildberry lavender. It’s worth the wait, but with over twenty different flavors available for sampling, the line can get quite long. When you've had your fill, take a hike up the nearby Griffith Observatory to walk off the calories.

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5. Rori's 910 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

Helmed by a former pastry chef, this Westside outpost (the original shop is in Santa Barbara) churns out ice cream made with organic grass-fed milk and cream. Rori's, housed inside a glassy, former boutique space, focuses on sweet-leaning flavors, like honey almond crunch and root beer float. Even the cones here are made in-house, so you know every bite of your frosty treat is crafted with TLC.

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6. Wanderlust Creamery 18511 Ventura Blvd, Tarzana, CA 91356

As the name indicates, the unique flavors at this artisanal ice cream spot is inspired by travel destinations. You’ll find a rotating selection of exotic flavors like Thai sticky rice and mango or Icelandic pretzel and rugbrauø. The variety even extends into their cones and toppings: cone flavors come in ube or brown butter, and toppings include one-of-a-kind selections like pandan rice crispies. You'll leave with with your sweet tooth satisfied -- and maybe an idea for your next trip, too.

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7. Beachy Cream 1209 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403

The small-batch, concentrated ice cream whipped up inside this retro Santa Monica shop is all made from scratch. Get your sweet fix through their dreamy selection of organic ice cream sandwiches, which includes a candied ginger/molasses spice cookie pairing. Or, if a cone is what you're after, try the Strawberry Balsamic Swirl or the Bitchin' Hot Chocolate (they really mean hot -- it's made with a hint of organic cinnamon and cayenne).

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8. Grom 3886 Cross Creek Rd, Malibu, CA 90265

If you’re seeking refuge from the traffic on the Pacific Coast Highway, swing through Grom. Nestled in the Malibu Country Mart, this gelateria imports their product directly from Italy, sourcing all natural ingredients from their own organic farm. The old school Italian approach produces mouthwatering results, including popular flavors like bacio, a blend of chocolate and hazelnut and stracciatella, which features dark Colombian chocolate and thick cacao chips.

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9. Sweet Rose Creamery 225 26th St, Santa Monica, CA 90402

Sweet Rose concocts a variety of delicious ice cream flavors, and also makes most of their toppings from scratch, including marshmallows to shortbread bits. Known for exotic creations like yam swirl with salty sesame brittle, or cherimoya, this ice cream shop is a homegrown talent (the first of its five LA locations is at the Brentwood Country Mart). But don’t worry: it also has classics like coffee and salted caramel, all of which are made from organic milk, cream, and eggs.

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10. Saffron & Rose Ice Cream 1385 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

Ice cream is more than just a sweet treat at this Westwood parlor - it’s an experience. Using traditional Persian methods by adding ground orchid root to their batches, Saffron & Rose creates ice cream that is lusciously creamy, rich, and slightly thicker in texture than your average American creams. The flavor offerings are nuanced and aroma-obsessed, with menu highlights including orange blossom, cucumber, and lavender. Don’t let the line deter you – these fragrant fro-yos are worth the wait.

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11. Quenelle 2214 W Magnolia Blvd , Los Angeles, CA 91506

Owned and operated by John Park, former pastry chef at Lukshon, Quenelle is a dessert lover’s paradise. From highly imaginative ice cream flavors like black sesame macaroon and vanilla mascarpone, to additional frozen fare like Yuzu lemongrass popsicles, these aren’t your average sweets. As an added bonus, there’s no need for the lactose-intolerant to feel left out – many of the offerings are dairy-free, and there’s complimentary Lactaid pills on the counter just to be safe.

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12. Peddler's Creamery 458 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Who knew making ice cream could be as easy as riding a bike? That’s literally the case at Peddler’s Creamery—their entire churning process is powered by bicycles. If that eco-friendly incentive isn’t enough cause for you to go check it out, consider that their all-organic offerings includes vegan options and inventive flavors like maple pancake batter, raspberry Pop-tart, and cardamom. Factor in a hip, Instagram-worthy color scheme, and it’s a no-brainer.

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13. Gelateria Uli 541 S Spring St Ste 104, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Gelateria Uli reinforces our belief that good coffee and gelato are made for one another. Whether you’re looking for classic flavors like chocolate and pistachio or original favorites like poblano and coconut lemongrass, this contemporary, Italian-chic spot is your downtown go-to for artisanal gelato.

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14. Three Twins 2726 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405

SF ice cream favorite Three Twins expanded to this Santa Monica storefront to make sure you get scoops of all the frosty goodness they have to offer. The earthy look of the shop matches their earthy approach to ice cream: they deal in organic basics-with-a-twist, like cookie-flecked lemon and milk & honey. If you're craving something a little crazier (and much messier), go for one of their kitchen-sink sundaes like Slop Bucket or Cookie Monster.

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15. Coolhaus 8588 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

Founded by two ladies with design and realty backgrounds, Coolhaus blends ice cream with architecture and eccentric flavors. Most of the menu offerings here are named after famous architects and combine savory with sweet, like the Louis Ba-Kahn Sammie – a scoop of brown butter-candied bacon ice cream served between two chocolate chip cookies. Even if the puns don’t register, the flavors here are beyond your wildest dreams (Whiskey Lucky Charms, anyone?). Coolhaus also rolls deep with a fleet of ice cream trucks, so you can satiate your sugar cravings on the go.

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16. Scoops Westside 3400 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

Variety is the spi -- um, the ice of life, in the case of Scoops. The hip Westside coffee shop-meets-ice cream parlor changes flavors on a daily basis, ensuring ultra-fresh batches and crafty flavors. Whether you’re in it for the dairy-free options, hip art mounted throughout the shop, or whimsical original flavors like strawberry balsamic or “Brown Bread,” a winning combination of grape nuts and caramel ice cream, park your car (yes, there’s parking) and swing by Scoops.

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17. Sprinkles Cupcakes & Ice Cream 9635 Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

You’ve probably already heard of confectionary tycoon Sprinkles, but have you visited the shop where it all began? It’s worth checking out the cupcake empire’s flagship location in Beverly Hills, as the sugary offerings here don’t disappoint. From classic cupcakes to next level fare like red velvet waffle cones and slow-churned salted caramel ice cream, it’s dessert heaven. If your sugar craving kicks in after a day of shopping on Rodeo Drive and you're unwilling to brave the line, hit up their legendary cupcake ATM to get your fix.

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18. Mother Moo Creamery 17 Kersting Ct, Sierra Madre, CA 91024

Tucked away in Sierra Madre, this old-school parlor serves up generous scoops of feel-good flavors in fresh-made waffle cones. If we had to choose which to indulge in, we'd pick the cinnamon graham cracker and brown sugar oatmeal. To top off their tasty selections, Mother Moo also offers excellent house-made ice cream cakes and pies.

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19. Carmela Ice Cream & Sorbet 2495 E Washington Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104

This Pasadena creamery is run by a married couple who source locally grown and organic herbs, spices, and flowers to churn out their inventive list of ice cream flavors. This is not the place if you're craving plain old-fashioned strawberry or chocolate -- you're in for clever concoctions like lavender honey and rosemary with toasted pine nuts. If you're really in the mood for something traditional, you won't regret dipping a spoon into their classic rocky road.