I lived in LA for ten years (with a couple significant breaks during which I gallivanted around the UK), and it is my favorite city by far. It was the city where I went to college, lived on my own for the first time, learned to drive and parallel park like a bad ass, and became an all around adult. I will always feel a connection to that place that I don’t think will be easy to replicate. It’s my pretty city. LA is also one of the world’s most misunderstood cities. When I would tell people in other cities that I lived in LA, I often got the “Aw, I’m sorry” response. Come on! How rude can you be?! Do I say that about where you live? Certainly not to your face! Or I get the “Wow, you don’t seem like you’re from LA! I mean, you’re not shallow or anything!” Well, thanks. I’m glad you think all Los Angelenos are shallow. Not that I have friends there or anything. Jerkface. Ahem. Anyway. I think a lot of the LA hate comes from the fact that LA is a fantastic place to live and a horrible place to visit. If you don’t know where you’re going, it’s very easy to get stuck in traffic, lost, or stuck going to places like the Universal Citywalk. Yuck. So, I’ve decided to every so often share a few of my favorite LA places. And where to start? With the most important food group — ice cream!
1. My favorite crazy flavors place (and my overall number 1):
East Hollywoodish (near LACC), 712 N Heliotrope Dr
There are also locations in Highland Park and the Westside, as well as the counter at Golden State in the Fairfax District.
Why it’s good: The genius ice cream maker at Scoops comes up with the craziest flavors, and makes them fresh daily! Every time you go there will be a whole set of new flavors, but make sure to get there early because the best flavors will sell out. Lots of non-dairy flavors! Plus, you get two fairly decent sized scoops for about $3. Ridiculous. This was the place that my roommate and I visited weekly for a while, even though it took a good 20 minutes to get there. Worth it every. single. time. Yelp agrees with us. It gets 4.6 stars after 1926 reviews. Yeah. What to get?
First of all, don’t be afraid to ask for as many samples as you want. I can almost promise you’ve never had these flavors before. My favorites? Brown bread, which is a light vanilla mixed with caramel and grape nuts. Brown bread is the only flavor that is there every day. Anything with black sesame is amazing. Chocolate Guinness is solid, as is salty chocolate. Burnt sugar is basically creme brulée ice cream. My roommate loved the fruity flavors, including strawberry basil.
Sidenote: My roommate once got me an ice cream cake from there for my birthday. The Scoops version of an ice cream cake? A huge tray full of ice cream. No cake. It means that you have to eat it all in one go. Delicious, but kind of intense. 2. My favorite regular ice cream/ice cream novelties:
Mid-City West, 7290 Beverly Blvd
Why it’s good: Classic ice cream flavors + creative shakes + ice cream sandwiches made with macarons + homemade ice cream bars + actually decent salads and sandwiches + pleasant outdoor seating + celebrity sightings = Pretty darn solid.
What to get?
I love their classic cookies and cream ice cream. It’s the perfect balance of oreos and light vanilla ice cream. Kick it up by getting the cookies and cream ice cream bar, which is the ice cream dipped in perfect chocolate rolled in more oreos. Yep. I have friends who swear by their shakes, including the delicious coffee toffee crunch shake. And if you’re actually looking for a non dessert item, I highly recommend the manchego cheese and whole wheat grain salad. YUM.
3. My favorite Persian ice cream:
Hollywood, 1525 N La Brea Ave
Why it’s good: LA has a large Persian population, which means there are a few Persian ice cream places to choose from. I give Mashti’s the edge though, as they have a good selection of both Persian and more typical ice cream flavors, plus it’s run by some of the nicest ice cream folks around. Mashti Malone’s is also in a very Hollywood shopping center — run down liquor store + laundromat + hip bar. Oh LA.
What to get?
You have to try the Persian flavors here! Yes, some of them may seem a bit perfume-y due to the rosewater, but they are also clean and refreshing. My favorite is the faludeh — it’s a very light, almost slush like base with a light citrus flavor…and weird starchy noodle things? I know. Weird. But so good! If you’re dying to try this but can’t make it to Hollywood, Mashti Malone’s does sell some of their flavors in fancy grocery stores in California.
4. My favorite ice cream sandwiches:
Diddy Riese Cookies
Westwood, 926 Broxton Ave
Why it’s good: As a former Bruin, I think it’s contractually required that I include Diddy Riese otherwise I get my degree revoked. During the UCLA orientation, the counselors march all the freshmen down to Diddy Riese. It’s just one of those things that you need to know about. Diddy Riese is actually an amazing cookie bakery, but they know how to make a FANTASTIC ice cream sandwich. Take two fresh baked cookies of your choice, choose whichever ice cream you want between them, and fork over only $1.75. Even USC Trojans will come to Westwood for this!
What to get?
Whatever ice cream sandwich you want! One macadamia white chocolate cookie and one chocolate with bubble gum ice cream in the middle? Yuck…but sure! Go crazy. The cookies on their own are really delicious too. My favorites of those are the candy cookies and the cinnamon sugar.
5. My Childhood Favorite:
Rite Aid/Thrifty’s Ice Cream
All over the darn place.
Why it’s good: Thrifty was one of the drug stores in my hometown, and, like most Thriftys, it had the world’s best ice cream counter. A scoop was under a dollar, and it was always in that cool cylinder shape. When Rite Aid bought out Thriftys, a lot of the ice cream counters disappeared, though you could still by the ice cream in the cartons in Rite Aid. Luckily, a few of the counters do still exist around the west coast, including a few in LA. What to get?
CHOCOLATE MALTED CRUNCH, obviously. It’s chocolate ice cream, with chocolate chips and weird little white malt candies. You can’t get it anywhere else, and it’s just amazing.
I know I’m leaving out tons, but this is a good introduction to the vibrant LA ice cream scene. One more recommendation: If you hang out in an LA park long enough, you’ll probably see a guy pushing an ice cream cart around. Paletas galore! And mango/chile popsicles, which I find horrible, but people love!
If anyone has any suggestions for ice cream in LA, please let me know in the comments!
And if you have any Austin recommendations for good ice cream, I’d love to hear those too! And yes…I know of Amy’s. Why is that the only ice cream place that Austinites talk about?!
(One quick note: I didn’t take any of theses photos. Please click on the photo to see its Flickr page.)