Even though July is National Ice Cream Month, nobody needs an excuse to indulge in creamy cones, cups and sandwiches any time of year. Ronald Reagan was the president to drum up this designation in 1984, decreeing that the third Sunday of the month would be National Ice Cream Day. He wanted to recognize the cold treat that 90% of the U.S. population enjoys regularly. We are celebrating all month by trying out the best ice cream shops in Los Angeles, and we’ve got your top 5!
Sweet Rose Creamery: This ice cream shop on the edge of the Brentwood Country Mart had to limit its per-person tastings to two to keep its line, which often streams out into the parking lot, moving right along. The aroma of sweet cookies wafts through the air as the staff mixes the chocolate batter for the homemade cones. Sweet Rose Creamery carries at least 15 flavors daily, which are inspired by what’s in season, such as this summer’s nectarine sorbet. The two most requested flavors are salted caramel and fresh mint with homemade chocolate chips. Peering out at customers from a tall case by the door are Guittard chocolate-dipped bananas, classic and seasonal bon bons and Valrhona fudge pops. On the menu are also brownie bites, sundaes, shakes, floats and one of the best banana splits in LA!
Bulgarini Gelato: Leo Bulgarini is a gelato connoisseur. He studied gelato-making in Italy and imports his almonds from Sicily and chocolate from France. For the new macadamia flavor that’s in the works, he traveled to Hawaii. The newer Culver City location looks more like a coffee shop, as it in fact was before Bulgarini took it over. The ice cream case stands just inside the front door, greeting customers with colorful gelato and sorbets. Bulgarini offers three kinds of chocolate: salted, regular and orange flavor. Customer favorites are the standard chocolate chip, almond and vanilla.
Carmela: This shop started out selling at farmers markets in 2007, and has since grown to have two locations in L.A.: one in Pasadena and one in Mid-City. They make their ice cream based on whatever fruit is in season, adding in fresh herbs, spices, flowers, and organic dairy to make the scoop of your dreams. The texture is smooth and not at all icy. Their delicate, floral rose petal flavor is wonderful for adventurous palates, and the earl grey is lovely for tea aficionados. For those after the classics, we recommend the strawberry buttermilk, which is even better when sandwiched between two of their shortbread cookies.
Coolhaus started out as a food truck and sold so many sandwiches that they opened up shops in Culver City and Pasadena. Their parlors are known for selling unexpected flavors like Guinness Chip, Chicken and Waffles, and Lucky Charms—all given architecturally-inspired names, of course. Scoops can be sandwiched between your favorite freshly baked cookies for a super sweet treat. They’ve recently launched a line of ice cream bars that are pretty fantastic. But the real show-stopper is their Norman Bananas Foster sold by the pint. It’s made with bananas caramelized in rum, then folded into decadent banana ice cream.
Milk: Walking into Milk is like stepping into a condensed version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. There’s a stand-up fridge to the left with goodies such as butterscotch drumsticks, watermelon and red velvet macaroon ice cream sandwiches and frozen strawberry shortcakes. Piled high on the counter to the right are cookies, brownies and cakes. The menu board hanging overhead lists shakes, malts, floats and the classics, which include a warm ooey gooey chocolate sundae and the blondie with vanilla ice cream, butterscotch and pecan praline. Make Your Own Ice Cream Sandwiches are $5 with about 10 cookie types to choose from as well as flavors such as jasmine, nutella, blueberry crumble pie and their most popular pick, banana dulce de leche.