Best Frozen Treats

There are a lot of respectable scoops, shakes, and swirls out there but only a few worth a special trip.

Photograph by Carin Krasner

We’re all for air-conditioning, but sometimes you need to cool off from the inside out. We visited dozens of shops offering soft serve, frozen yogurt, gelato, Italian ice, Popsicles, snow cones, and ice cream to determine where to blow your diet. 

Vive la Différence
Patricia Samson, a Francophile who studied ice cream making in Lyons, France, is the owner of Delicieuse. Her specialty is goat’s milk ice cream—and no, it doesn’t taste like frozen goat cheese. The texture is smooth, and each bite has a clean finish, which makes the usual stuff taste greasy by comparison. Some Whole Foods locations carry the brand, but go to the source, a sweet café done up in Provençal prints, for the best selection and the petite Japanese ceramic serving bowls. » 2503 Artesia Blvd., Redondo Beach, 310-793-7979

Stick Shift
At Mateo’s, a tiny shop marked by a smiling yellow Popsicle sign, the leche quemada (burned milk) ice cream is the reason many customers wait in line. We prefer the paletas, especially the pink-purple jamaica, which tastes like grape juice blended with tea and dark berries. » 4222 W. Pico Blvd., L.A., 323-931-5500, and other locations

Dairy King
At Milk, malt-shop classics get updated with modern ingredients and grown-up preparations. We love the Strawberry Shortcake Bar, a bomb of strawberry ice cream encased in a thick shell of white chocolate with nubbins of sweet, crumbly shortcake, and the Milkie Way Malt, a tall, cold glass of vanilla shot through with malt and chocolate chips. Bring a friend: Portions are gargantuan. » 7290 Beverly Blvd., L.A., 323-939-6455

Roman Holiday
Tucked behind a modest storefront in the corner of an uninspiring strip mall, Bulgarini Gelato serves gelato made on the premises by Leo Bulgarini, who imports his secrets—and many of his ingredients—from his native Italy. The yogurt gelato is our favorite, in part because each serving is drizzled with olive oil—a tasty combination that makes the vanilla-hot fudge combo seem ho-hum. The granitas, the Italian cousins to sorbets, will transport you to Trastevere (in spirit, at least). » 749 E. Altadena Dr., Altadena, 626-791-6174

DIY Delicacies
There are 30 rotating flavors and 48 toppings, including chunks of chocolate brownie from nearby Cake and Art bakery, at Yogurt Stop, where customers do the heavy lifting (dispensing frozen yogurt, spooning toppings) and a disco ball enhances the funky aesthetic. The mostly nonfat yogurt is so creamy, especially the chocolate, that it could pass for soft-serve ice cream. Even die-hard Pinkberry addicts will warm to the tart selections. » 8803 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, 310-652-6830

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