10 delicious ice cream and frozen treats in Los Angeles

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Once in a while, on a hot day in northeast LA, you might want something sweet, icy, and refreshing, and just then a raspado vendor will appear. The serendipity of it! Riding in a gorgeous converted golf cart, honking as if responding to a local emergency (which he is, in a sense), he hauls ice cream, sorbets, bottles of chamoy sauce and syrups, fruit and a wide range of spiced snack packets to customize your order.

Most of the time, though, you have to venture further from home, to the scoop shops, shave ice parlors, and Neverías that form a network of frozen treats across town. My favorites come in a wide variety of shapes and flavors, and meet very specific textural needs. They often surprise me with specials, pop-up menu items and new combinations.

Here are 10 that stand out and manufacture their products locally:

Weekly visits to Sweet Rose reveal microseasonal shifts in produce at nearby Santa Monica Market – from cherries, strawberries and blueberries to plums, apricots, melons and grapes – as Shiho Yoshikawa transforms fruits, herbs and flowers locals into wonderful ice creams. The grasshopper sundae, consisting of fluffy ice cream with slivers of fresh mint, dense chocolate fudge, crunchy bits of homemade waffle cones and whipped cream, is thankfully available year-round.

2726 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA; 310-260-2663; sweetrosecreamery.com

It’s hard to fathom the deliciousness of Awan’s ice cream, which is flavored so full and intense, and melts in your mouth in such a pleasant way, that it is simply not considered vegan. Zen Ong makes its ice cream with Indonesian coconut cream and Balinese vanilla beans, and even a single scoop of vanilla can seem like a luxury. Unlike so many vegan coconut-based ice creams, the taste of coconut is almost imperceptible. This makes it an ideal canvas for other flavors, which rotate, and are often made with local fruits like strawberries, cherries, cherimoya and guava.

866 Huntley Drive, West Hollywood, CA; 424-283-1053; enjoyawan.com

Elaine Marumoto-Perez and her brother, James Marumoto, run an exceptional little ice cream shop in Gardena, producing just a handful of ice cream each week. They feature fleeting, exuberant flavors like Japanese popped caramel corn and a mint chip accented with Thai and holy basil. The waffle cones are all homemade, as are the matcha jellies and tender shiratama mochi that go into the matcha parfait, topped with cornflakes, red bean paste and whipped cream.

18515 South Western Avenue, Gardena, CA; 310-953-7110; kanshacreamery.com

Priciliano Mateo learned to make paletas from his grandfather, who pushed a fruit popsicle cart along the beaches of Oaxaca, Mexico, then opened Mateo’s in 2000, while working as a washer. dishes in a restaurant in Los Angeles. There are now four locations, and since Mr Mateo’s death in 2018 they have been run by his wife, Sofia Mateo, and their children, Oscar and Elizabeth Mateo. All nieves and paletas are made in Culver City, and every Mateo’s offers a mind-blowing and unparalleled selection of fruit flavors year-round, like soursop, guava, pumpkin, and mango.

1250 South Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles; 213-738-7288; mateosicecreamla.com

Margaret Dietl (a redhead who has embraced her nickname, Ginger) makes Moro Blood Orange Ice Cream with Chocolate Chips, using juice from Polito Family Farms, and Strawberry Ice Cream incorporating Gaviota Strawberries from Harry’s Berries . The flavors are fun and always changing, and almost all the ice creams are also available in dairy-free versions, including the excellent Pickled Strawberry Blueberry Pie with graham cracker crumbles.

12550 West Washington Boulevard, Studio City; 310-437-0246; gingersicecreams.com

Out back, workers freeze blocks of ice in four flavors – mango, green tea, strawberry and milk – so they’re ready to make a wide variety of bingsoo. The Korean-style shave ice, which is cut on a machine as thinly as possible, has a fluffy, almost creamy texture, but with satisfying tiny crystals that disappear on your tongue. The mango-melon bingsoo, topped with honeydew melon balls from California Market, a local Korean grocery store, can be adjusted to taste with a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk.

3300 West Sixth Street, Unit 2, Los Angeles; 213-387-1002; oakobing.com

Roxana Gaeta grew up going to Los Alpes, which opened as a paleteria in 1979, and bought the shop from Margarita Flores, its original owner, nine years ago. While she’s kept the store’s quaint vibe and hand-painted murals, she often adds new flavors to the rotation, like blackberry lemonade, toasted coconut, and vegan strawberry. The no-frills classic mangoneada is perfection: big scoops of homemade mango sorbet, lightly drizzled with chamoy and lime-chili salt, with half a fresh lime squeezed directly on top.

6410 Rugby Avenue, Huntington Park, CA; 323-587-4246; no website

Unlike Fatamorgana’s original location in Rome, Alessandro Jacchia’s American outpost has spinning flavors that reflect a more Californian sensibility. The pistachio is pale in color, but deeply and properly flavored (and textured!) with the sweet, fragrant crumble of fresh nuts. Ice cream and sorbets are churned in Studio City, and although the best tend to use local fruits like guavas, passion fruit, mamey, dates and figs, it would be sad to miss the huge range of chocolate flavors, especially the sumptuous gianduja.

12021 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City, CA; 818-606-0273; fmgelato.com

Margarita Manzke, known for her French pastries and pastries at République, cooks an extraordinary Angeleno version of halo halo, the Filipino dessert, at her small restaurant inside Grand Central Market, using homemade flan and jellies as well as seasonal fruits. The halo of halo changes often, but it’s always a delicious flurry of textures – slippery, fluffy tapioca pearls, crunchy shave ice, densely creamy flan pieces, coconut and berry jellies. passion and tangy raw fruit squishes, all under a scoop of melting coconut ice cream.

Grand Central Market, 317 South Broadway, Los Angeles; 323-320-4020; sarisaristorela.com

The menu at Mashti and Matt Sirvani’s longtime Iranian ice cream parlor is immediately refreshing, even to read: sour cherry and rosewater ice cream with rice starch noodles. Saffron-rose water with pistachios. My favorite flavor, known simply as “Herb Snow,” is particularly uplifting: hydrated lemon, rosewater, herbs and basil seeds, even more satisfying in a thin, delicate wafer sandwich.

1525 North La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles; 323-874-6168; mashtimalones.com


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