Summer is in full swing; trips to the beach, backyard barbecues, and hot weather are inevitable. When the summer heat begins to take its toll, there’s no better way to cool off and relax than by enjoying a refreshing frozen treat. Fortunately, there are an ever-growing number of ways to pleasure your palate and soothe your soul. From dine-in restaurants offering innovative creations to mom-and-pop shops serving up old classics, there is something to satisfy everyone’s ice-cold craving.
Perhaps the beginning of a major trend, AFTERS Ice Cream in Fountain Valley has come up with one of the most obvious, yet brilliant food combinations in recent history: donut ice cream sandwiches. They start out with what they call a “Milky Bun,” which is essentially a glazed donut cut in half, and add a layer of one of their small batch ice cream flavors in between. The result is life changing. The warm, soft milky bun exterior contrasted by the cold, creamy ice cream interior work together in harmony to create something that will have you wondering why no one thought of this long, long ago.
If donut ice cream sandwiches somehow are not your thing, you may want to try something a little more traditional. After three decades of avoiding the West Coast, Rita’s Italian Ice, the world’s largest Italian Ice company, has finally made its way to California. Originally from Philadelphia, Rita’s has garnered worldwide acclaim since it first opened in 1984. It’s no wonder why, with more than 65 flavors of their famous Italian Ice made fresh daily, along with old-fashioned frozen custard, sundaes, and a variety of other cool treats.
Also making its West Coast debut this summer is one of New York City’s hottest suppliers of cold treats. Since opening in 2010, Popbarhas become the go-to place for handcrafted frozen desserts on sticks. Located in the Anaheim Packing District, they offer fully-customizable Gelato, Sorbetto, and Yogurt pops with four premium chocolate dippings and seven all natural “poppings,” like crushed waffle cone and coffee grains. If and when you find yourself overwhelmed by all of the possibilities, take a deep breath and look around. Popbar features an eye-catching display of at least 25 rotating flavors daily.
If you are interested in an upscale dining experience to accompany your frozen treat, look no further than West Hollywood’s RivaBella. Located on Sunset Boulevard, this Tuscan-inspired dining hotspot is home to one of the most scientifically fun desserts around: liquid nitrogen ice cream. After enjoying a gourmet meal prepared by Chef Luigi Fineo’s culinary team, sit back and watch as they pour liquid nitrogen over a concoction of milk, cream, vanilla and sugar to create ice cream tableside. To sweeten the deal even more, they offer a number of toppings including fruity liqueurs, salted caramel, and macerated strawberries.
Looking to balance out your sweet summer treat with a little bit of spice? Head to Los Angeles to Diablo Taco and try their Michelada Popsicle, an intriguing twist on a Mexican classic. Like traditional micheladas, the foundation of this treat starts with your choice of a variety of domestic and craft beers. With 10 taps and plenty of bottles to choose from, they’ve got you covered. After you’ve carefully selected the perfect summer brew, there’s still one more crucial decision to make: which of their two unusual popsicle flavors will you be pairing it with. Whether you go with their spicy tomato or citrusy Japanese yuzu, your taste buds are in for one wild ride.
For those of you who enjoy a bit of nostalgia with your summer treats, food trucks are a great way to relive those childhood days of chasing down the melodic tunes of your neighborhood ice cream truck. Although social media has made it a lot easier to track them down, it’s still exciting to turn the corner and discover tasty treats being dished out of a truck. Roaming the streets of LA, Coolhaus is essentially the modern version of a traditional ice cream truck. Ever since bursting onto the scene in 2009, they have been serving up their signature sweet-meets-savory ice cream sandwiches all over town. Using all-natural and local ingredients, Coolhaus offers an endless number of flavor combinations, most of which you have probably never tasted in ice cream form before. Some of their most innovative flavors include Fried Chicken & Waffles and Whiskey Lucky Charms.
Also offering up frozen goods on the go is Longboard’s Vintage Ice Cream. Based in Orange County, Longboard’s puts the same amount of care that goes into making a handcrafted surfboard into each of their delectable ice cream bars. They use distinctive recipes to combine rich ingredients into mouthwatering flavors like mango, coconut, and cookies n’ cream, which can be dipped and rolled in a number of tasty toppings.
Much like food trucks, pop-up shops have become one of LA’s most trendy new ways of getting a hold of exclusive goodies. Making its mark at various events and locations throughout the City of Angels, Churro Boroughhas quickly made a name for itself. That is no surprise considering its claim to fame is a churro ice cream sandwich. Similar to what AFTERS has done with their donut ice cream sandwiches, Churro Borough has combined two of LA’s most popular street treats into one epic dessert.
All of these sweet summer delights represent only a small sample of everything that is out there. As the days get hotter, more and more shops, trucks, and restaurants are opening up to offer frozen treats of all kinds. One such newcomer is Stax Cookie Bar. Set to open at the University Center in Irvine, Stax will offer a variety of fresh-made goods, such as customizable cookie ice cream sandwiches, several different variations of Affogato, and something they call “Smoosh” (warm gooey cookie dough topped with French vanilla bean ice cream & hot fudge). Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait for their doors to open in September to get your hands on these tasty creations. In the meantime, use your newfound knowledge of local frozen treats to guide you to something sweet and refreshing to go along with your fun in the sun and tell Great Taste all about it!