7 Spots for Soft Serve and Frozen Custard Around LA

By Lesley Balla | August 6, 2015 By Lesley Balla  |  August 6, 2015
Photo by: Jon & Vinny's

We love ice cream, gelato, ice pops, ice cream sandwiches and even frozen yogurt. But who doesn't have a soft spot for soft-serve ice cream — the swirl, the easy eating, the sprinkles or the fudge, or the cone it fills. Sure, we’ll hit one of the chains like Foster’s Freeze or Carvel if we must, but we're more impressed with the unique flavors that chefs and restaurants are serving around town. Meanwhile, frozen custard — its richer, dense, creamy Midwestern kin — is now available around LA too. Here are seven unique soft-serve and custard creations to taste right now.

  • Photo by: Honeymee


    This small but growing local chain specializes in soft, creamy ice cream drizzled with honey. There are only five flavors, from vanilla to those laced with chocolate, but the most popular comes topped with a bit of honeycomb. The original location is in Brown Derby Plaza in Koreatown, and the latest opened on Sawtelle in the newly named Sawtelle Japantown neighborhood.

    Multiple Locations

  • Photo by: Simmzy's

    Manhattan Beach Post

    David LeFevre's original South Bay baby regularly introduces new soft-serve flavors, all made in-house, such as salted caramel with green figs and pistachios, orange creamsicle with guava jelly and coconut cookies, or blackberry soft serve with berries and Valrhona brownie pieces. It’s good enough to go in for dessert alone.

    1142 Manhattan Ave.; 310-545-5405

  • Sweet Rose Creamery

    The shop on Pico in Santa Monica is the only one with soft serve, which swirls in flavors like milk gelato and peach dairy-free sorbet. The flavors change regularly, so watch Sweet Rose's social media pages for updates. The best way to try anything: Get a twist!

    826 Pico Blvd.; 310-260-2663

  • Jon & Vinny's

    ​After a few hiccups out of the gate — with the soft-serve machine only, not with the pizzas, salads and meatballs — the new Italian joint from Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo is now consistently serving big swirls of chocolate, strawberry or the two together, all made from Straus Family Creamery's base.

    412 N. Fairfax Ave.; 323-334-3369

  • Sambar

    A swirl of vanilla soft serve made with Strauss organic milk is really the best thing we can think of eating here after some Mississippi masala wings, Truck Stop goat curry and palak paneer. Akasha Richmond's new Culver City Indian spot features the rich and creamy dessert on its own or in a sundae topped with cookie crumbles, coconut-chocolate sauce, cashews and peanuts, and preserved local cherries.

    9531 Culver Blvd.; 310-558-8800

  • Pitfire Artisan Pizza

    All locations of this local pizza chain — from North Hollywood to the newest Pasadena, all the way down to Costa Mesa — serve Straus Family Creamery soft serve with various toppings (Guittard "De Oro" chocolate sauce, housemade caramel with Maldon salt or with Californian extra-virgin olive oil and salt). Or get the smothered cookie, a warm jumbo chocolate chip cookie topped with soft serve, hazelnuts and your choice of sauce.

    Multiple locations


  • Top Round

    This is definitely where you want to go for roast beef sandwiches, but the chefs (Anthony Carron, Steven Fretz) also make their own vanilla custard for cones, sundaes and cements (basically sundae toppings mixed into a super-thick smoothie). The Midwestern specialty is similar to ice cream in the butterfat content (around 10%), but it’s made in a machine that adds less air so it tastes more dense. It’s somewhere between ice cream and gelato, and it's oh so good.

    1000 S. La Brea Ave.; 323-549-9445

Places Mentioned

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Manhattan Beach Post

American Manhattan Beach
Food26 Decor22 Service24 Cost$49
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American Long Beach
Food22 Decor19 Service21 Cost$26
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Ice Cream Shop West Los Angeles
Food- Decor- Service- CostI
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Jon & Vinny's

Italian Fairfax
Food25 Decor21 Service19 Cost$48

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