Fika Fika Creamery
This shop is housed in the sprawling food hall known as Rodeo 39 Public Market. A rotating lineup of nearly 20 flavors features tropical tastes such as passion fruit and guava as well as options inspired by the owners’ Taiwanese heritage. The ice cream’s rich texture is a result of using milk with a high fat percentage. Everything is handcrafted, and some flavors, like vanilla lavender and rose raspberry, take hours to perfect. Vegan options are available, as are pints. Try the ube and charcoal waffle cones, made fresh daily.
Top Flavors: strawberry Pocky, brown sugar milk with boba, young coconut ube
12885 Beach Blvd., Stanton, 714-379-7744
If you’ve had a hard time finding a nondairy ice cream that tastes like the real thing, it’s time to check out Hug Life. The ice cream is lactose-free, completely plant-based, and organic. You can eat your scoop between cookies, in a milkshake, as a root beer float, and more.
Top Flavors: Matcha Monsta, mango chamoy, yuzu creamsicle
14241 Euclid St., Garden Grove, 714-760-4345; 3505 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, 714-602-8006
Stella Jean’s Ice Cream
The San Diego scoopery expanded to Orange County last summer and has already built a major fan base. Its signature flavors, including many that are vegan or gluten-free, are handcrafted on-site from premium ingredients such as house-made baked goods and jams, and milk from Scott Brothers Dairy in Chino. The ice cream is extra thick and creamy because of its lower air content.
Top Flavors: salty caramel corn, s’mores, ube and pandesal toffee
270 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, 949-791-8133
Saffron & Rose
Saffron & Rose’s founder started making Persian-style ice cream more than 75 years ago. Now the storefront uses his recipes to create more than 30 unique flavors including vegan options that feature natural, organic ingredients. The texture of the ice cream is chewy and stretchy, making it something you’ll want to add to your weekly dessert rotation. The wafer added to scoops makes the treat even more enjoyable.
Top Flavors: saffron and pistachio, faloodeh, dark chocolate
4523 Campus Drive, Irvine, 949-333-3938
Bacio di Latte
The Fashion Island gelateria marks Bacio di Latte’s first location in Orange County. Cofounders and brothers Edoardo and Luigi Tonolli of Milan, opened their first shop in Brazil. They specialize in handmade gelato with organic milk and cream sourced from Spoletta Ranch in Northern California. They also use international ingredients such as chocolate from Belgium and hazelnuts from Italy. The interior is inspired by a European country kitchen with clean, white shelves filled with milk bottles, copper bowls, and cooking tools. Don’t miss the vegan sorbets made from locally sourced fruit.
Top Flavors: hazelnut, Belgian chocolate, vanilla and rose
133 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, 949-520-7538
Tsun Scoops is an anime-themed ice cream shop—the first of its kind in O.C. Owner Huy Pham sought to recognize and bring together the anime community through ice cream. Names of rotating flavors make references to titles such as “Kingdom Hearts” and “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.” Half of the menu features dairy-free oat milk- and coconut cream-based flavors. Fun fact: Pham worked with an artist to design and create an original manga called “The Adventures of Cream Chan.” Characters from the manga are featured on the shop’s cups and merchandise.
Top Flavors: honeydew, Ramune, sea salt
13137 Brookhurst St., Garden Grove
Founder Ashley Vedder was inspired to start Vedder’s Sweets after her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. She sought to create nondairy, cane sugar-free ice cream she could serve to her family. On top of being vegan and gluten-free, the ice cream is sweetened with only dates and maple syrup. With roots in pop-up events, the Vedder family opened a brick-and-mortar location in San Clemente in June. Some of the shop’s proceeds go to The Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Top Flavors: coconut macadamia nut, mint chip, chocolate and peanut butter
111 Avenida Palizada, San Clemente
Originally from Denmark, Paradis made its way to Southern California in 2009 and now has a third of its U.S. locations in Orange County. Rotating flavors are handmade fresh each day from high-quality ingredients. Choose from dairy ice cream, vegan ice cream, and sorbets, and look out for unique flavors such as Oreo strawberry buttermilk and spiced hazelnut cake. Even the waffle cones are made in-house.
Top Flavors: double chocolate, strawberry, taro
Dana Point, San Clemente, and Seal Beach
Veteran owned and operated, this spot plays up nostalgia with a welcoming space and throwback decor. Take in the wide array of options—classic flavors of the day, shakes, unique creations, and simple flavors that come with a free topping—and know that the wholesome ingredients are sourced from places including Straus Family Creamery and Manassero Farms. Each scoop is made to order and frozen with liquid nitrogen, which traps less air in the ice cream. Spoons that change colors amuse kids and adults, and there are two flavors for dogs, too.
Top Flavors: Bean Mi, cherry jubilee, Elemint Chunk
549 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, 949-630-5884
Salt & Straw
Founded in Portland, Oregon, this West Coast favorite opened its first O.C. location at Downtown Disney. Expect to try something new almost every visit as flavors are consistently being created, and there are multiple flavors of the month. If a scoop isn’t enough, you can take a pint home. Mobile ordering available.
Top Flavors: honey lavender, chocolate gooey brownie, Pots of Gold and Rainbows
1550 Disneyland Drive, Anaheim, 714-855-4321
Taiyaki is a Japanese street snack shaped like a fish and traditionally filled with sweet red bean paste. At Somi Somi, the treats come with fillings such as custard and Nutella. The star of the menu is the ah-boong, a freshly made taiyaki waffle cone with your choice of filling topped with Korean-style soft serve ice cream. You can also add extra toppings such as Oreo crumbs, a macaron shell, graham crackers, or sprinkles. Check Instagram for the swirls of the week.
Top Flavors: ube, milk, matcha
Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, and Irvine