The calendar may still say spring, but the balmy weather has us ready for backyard BBQ’s, sunny picnics and scrumptious scoops of cold ice cream. Luckily for Angelenos, there’s no shortage of awesome ice cream in town. Jumping to the top of the heap is a fabulous new Midwest import: Jeni’s Ice Creams in Los Feliz. Only LA has a West Coast shop with LA-only (and only in LA would would they fly!) flavors.

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photo credit: Meghan Rose

Gourmet, chef-orchestrated ice creams and sorbets are having a moment in LA (we love you Salt & Straw, and your Thanksgiving Turkey ice cream), but don’t expect completely off-the-wall savory flavors here. Instead, you’ll find delicious takes on appealing sweet flavors. Sure, there are some unconventional ingredients, but trust us: everything is completely delicious, and kiddos will be eager to experiment with the unique (but not too weird for little taste buds) ice cream and frozen yogurt options.

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photo credit: Meghan Rose

The Shop
You walk in, and the scent of freshly made waffles wafts over you. Instant heaven. It’s clean, bright and cheerful, with fresh flowers adorning the tables and down-to-earth, friendly staff. Female employees wear orange, white and black head kerchiefs (also available for sale in store), which invokes a by-gone era of simplicity and honest, home-grown goodness. Which is exactly what you’ll get at Jeni’s. Feel free to taste whatever strikes your fancy (they’ll encourage you to keep testing and tasting, even when you start to feel guilty for the line behind you—don’t worry, they’ll get their tasting turn), and get ready to flip for the adorable miniature silver spoons for taste testing. Kids love getting to plop their silver spoon into a giant jar (no waste, the spoons are reusable) before deciding on what flavor to get.

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photo credit: Meghan Rose

What’s the Scoop?
An Ohio-based brand, Jeni’s brings simplicity and unaltered goodness to ice cream fans. LA peeps will love the purity of it—nothing fake here. Jeni’s builds their ice creams from the ground up, with milk from grass-grazed cows and whole ingredients that they blend, bake, peel, chop, skin, pulverize and blowtorch themselves. No flavoring, chemical dyes, or off-the shelf ice cream mixes. The proof is in the pudding, errr, ice cream, that is.

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photo credit: Meghan Rose

Spectacular flavors like Toasted Brioche with Butter & Black Currant Jam, Brambleberry Crisp, and Sweet Cream with Molasses & Peanuts are scoopable choices. Kids will love the seven-layer bar flavor, which has (among other tasty things), sweetened condensed milk and “graham gravel”. Grown-ups might gravitate towards the Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso, which pairs well with a scoop of Whiskey & Pecan. And you’ve got to try the Goat Cheese Cherry.  Heaven!  But if you’re feeling like something lighter, try the Wheatgrass, Pear and Vinho Verde sorbet, which has been specially formulated for LA. It’s fresh, fruity and you can pretend you’re getting your greens!

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photo credit: Jeni’s Facebook Page

Classics to Put Classics to Shame
Even kids who prefer to stick to the classics are in heaven at Jeni’s. The Ndali Estate vanilla bean flavor is so deliciously full-flavored, your kids might start to turn their noses up to anything not made with Fair-Trade certified African vanilla beans, which are reserved exclusively for Jeni’s and shipped directly from Uganda. Of course there’s chocolate too, in the form of the Milkiest Chocolate in the World flavor, with a superior creaminess thanks to grass-grazed Ohio milk and Ohio wildflower honey. But you may find your kids straying to the dark side, since the Dark Chocolate flavor is packed with Fair-Trade certified cocoa and tastes like the inside of a super-rich chocolate truffle.

Fro-Yo That’s In Another League
If living in LA has made you a frozen yogurt addict, these flavors put your local self-serve to shame. Jeni’s has amazing options made with grass-grazed milk, biodynamic yogurt, and pulverized fruit. Try the Lime Cardamom (made with fresh lime juice, of course), or the fruity and refreshing Red Raspberry.

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photo credit: Elena Wurlitzer

Top of the Toppings
Even Jeni’s toppings are top-notch. No neon gummi worms here, only the good stuff, like extra-bitter hot fudge, butterscotch and salty caramel sauces. Kids will go bananas for the “gravels”, which come in donut, salty graham, and chocolate blackout varieties. And just like their ice creams, all toppings are made with just a handful of simple, easy-to-pronounce, instantly identifiable ingredients.

More than Just Ice Cream
There’s even more than ice cream here. Try a “conversation cookie” to really get your family chatting. Each cookie is crafted from a home-made waffle, which is then carefully folded around a bespoke conversation starting question inside. Like a fortune cookie designed to get you gabbing.  And the ice cream sandwiches are superb and big enough to share.

Oh, and there are pre-packed pints in the freezer, if you’re hooked and want to bring the yummy home! jenitakehome

photo credit: Elena Wurlitzer

Sticker Shock
The one thing here that can cause a moment’s pause is sticker shock.  In a town full of full price premium treats, you still may blink a few times when you hand over your credit card.  Scoops come in double or triple.  No kid sizes.  No kid prices.  Because the scoops are half-sized, it’s not a sugar overload, but $5.50 for 2 small scoops or $6.50  for 3, plus extras for cones, toppings etc, and every time we’ve visited it’s been about a $30 bill for a family of 4. We’re not complaining, and in fact, we think the taste and quality is totally worth the price, but it’s good to know that before the bill comes.

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photo credit: Jeni’s Facebook Page

Looking for other fabulous ice cream that’s made the move to LA?  These are our favorite shops from last summer.  We can’t wait to see what pops up this summer!

Jeni’s is open from noon-10 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday and is open until 11 p.m. on Fridays & Saturdays.

Jeni’s Ice Creams
1954 Hillhurst Ave.
Los Feliz
Phone: 323-928-2668
Online: jenis.com

Let us know what you and your kiddos think of Jeni’s ice cream. What was everyone’s favorite flavor?

—Elena Wurlitzer