Soft-serve ice cream is synonymous with a summertime childhood beach treat, but this dairy dish (and vegan versions) is making its way onto menus at proper restaurants for a legitimate dessert course. Don’t worry about extra calories—most soft serve is made by simply adding air to frozen ice cream.
One of the best soft=serve options in town can be found in Old Pasadena at Agnes Restaurant & Cheesery. Keep it classic and go with vanilla, which is extremely thick and creamy, and add a variety of fun toppings, like crumbled cookies or chocolate Midwest “puppy chow.”
In addition to its unique Indian pizza and pasta menu, Pijja Palace on Sunset in Silver Lake also offers two wonderful soft-serve options with cookies and cardamom or malted chai, so be sure to save room for dessert.
Mid-city’s Saffy’s takes two flavors, such as boysenberry and vanilla, and swirls them together, resulting in an old-school “push-up pop” vibe. Nearby, Tsubaki in Echo Park features a hojicha parfait with roasted green tea soft serve, golden sesame, black sugar, burnt miso, and candied K&K ranch walnuts that feels healthy and almost too pretty to eat.
Speaking of health forward, after a workout or massage in the new HEIMAT well-being concept club in Hollywood, head to the fourth floor for chef Michael Mina’s Mother Tongue. Treat yourself guilt-free to one of the soft-serve sundaes, such as the matcha with sage-roasted peaches, honey oat crumble, agave almonds, and crunchy, vegan Moringa Puffs. The EVOO soft serve is actually made from yellow peas and served with chia-seed cake with lemon syrup, extra virgin olive oil, Maldon sea salt, and raw honeycomb (which can be removed to make the dish vegan).
Damian in DTLA has a soft serve with mangos and crunchy pepitas that hits all the right sweet notes after a long, indulgent brunch on the patio.
While tableside Caesar salads, meat carving, and martinis are a strong move lately with some of the top restaurants, next time you are in Beverly Hills, stop by Tommy’s upstairs for dinner. After your meal, the team can wheel over an entire soft-serve cart that includes sauces like banana caramel, chocolate, and triple-berry compote, along with sprinkles, cherries, whipped cream, and pistachios to top the dessert made in house from a Strauss milk base. According to chef Vartan Abgaryan, this upscale presentation is rooted in nostalgia. “People are dining out again and this dish makes you feel like a kid—everyone gets excited when they see the cart,” he says.
If you want a grab-and-go treat from a walk-up spot, Magpies, in Highland Park, Silver Lake, and at the Hollywood Bowl, offers both milk- and plant-based flavors from blueberry pie to frozen hot chocolate that are worth braving the line for. If you’re having friends over, grab one of the popular soft-serve pies with flavors like banana pudding and strawberry shortcake.