OC dessert veterans--Joe's Italian Ice, Disneyland's dole whip--will always have a place in our hearts, but the county has been making room for the new. You know what that means: lots of liquid nitrogen ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, and ice cream flavors that are getting more and more unexpected (surprisingly, there are no new popsicle joints--wasn't that a thing last year?) Though summer's ending soon, let's be real: it's still going to be hot and dessert--specifically ice cream--is a year-round thing here. And the list of new places to try just keeps growing.
10. Scoops N Scoops (Irvine)
Even though the ratio of regular ice cream shops and liquid nitrogen shops is equalizing...probably, it's not all that bad. As trendy as they may be, watching people make ice cream--which, when involving liquid nitrogen, looks like a scene from Breaking Bad--is fun and almost hypnotizing. At Scoops N Scoops, that crazy-mad-scientist stuff leads to impressive scoops of almond date ice cream (straight outta the Middle East, too) among others.
Scoops N Scoops is located at 14411 Culver Dr., Irvine, (949) 786-0170; scoopsnscoops.com; Instagram: @scoopsnscoops
9. Leaf N Cream (Tustin)
Next to Tustin's Tan Hoang Huong and Kolache Factory is Leaf N Cream, a boba-and-ice-cream-sandwich shop that resembles Northern California's Tpumps and Orange County's own Snow Monster. Like Tpumps, you mix up three drink flavors and are asked to choose between milk or non-milk. Like Snow Monster, Leaf N Cream serves ice cream sandwiched between beautifully decorated macaroons (they too have a Fruity Pebbles macaroon).
14089 Newport Ave, Tustin, (714) 200-8453; facebook.com/pages/Leaf-n-Cream/114103562265353
8. Bahama Buck's (Huntington Beach)
Enter Bahama Buck's and you'll find yourself staring at the menu for quite some time. That's because their list of Sno (their term for shaved ice) is so long you actually have to read all of it (otherwise, what if you miss a really good flavor?) Whether you choose birthday cake, wedding, or one of the fruity flavors, your Sno will be served in gradient hues and with an umbrella in it--smooth as ever.
8112 Talbert Ave, Huntington Beach, (714) 841-7661; bahamabucks.com; Instagram: @bahamabucks 7. Spatel Desserts (Orange)
We're used to seeing specialty shops serving ice cream, Italian ice, and frozen yogurt alone--but together? That's what Spatel Dessert is all about. Does this mean they're a jack-of-all-trades? Not at all. Over in the Italian ice department, the horchata and root beer flavors are particularly memorable. For ice cream, try the blueberry cobbler flavor.
3910 E Chapman Ave, Orange, (714) 538-5749, spateldesserts.com; Instagram: @spateldesserts
6. The Ice Cream Way (Huntington Beach)
I know, I know--the world is shoving liquid nitrogen down your throat, but if that means Chai Tea Masala, Puerto Rican Coffee, Indian Chikoo ice cream flavors, what's there to complain about? Choose your flavor, add mix-ins like nuts and spices, and toppings, and you've got the best post-North Shore Poke Co. dessert ever (which is right next door).
214 5th St, Ste 102, Huntington Beach; (714) 916-0177; theicecreamway.com
5. Crepe Coop (Tustin)
Ever get food-drunk off a crepe? If not, it's your time. Crepe Coop serves "crepe cakes," crepes made with fillings and toppings that are too large to eat on a not-empty-enough stomach or alone. Get the O.G.--good ol' strawberries, bananas, and nutella--or go for something even fruitier like The Tropics, which has seasonal berry, mango, kiwi, and vanilla gelato.
#5, 2493 Park Ave, Tustin, (714) 259-1136; Instagram: @crepecoop 4. Inside SKŪP (Fullerton)
These days, colleges come with ice cream sandwich shops. UCLA paved the way with Diddy Riese, UC Irvine acquired Stax Cookie Bar, and now Cal State Fullerton has Inside SKUP. But Inside SKUP is different from the rest, and there are several reasons for it: first of all, they carry Asian-inspired ice cream flavors like lychee, Thai coconut cream, Vietnamese coffee, and ube. And secondly, they don't just serve cookie ice cream sandwiches but also brownie and donut ones.
575 N Commonwealth Ave, (714) 869-3110; facebook.com/insideskup
3. Cauldron Ice Cream (Santa Ana)
Cauldron Ice Cream serves Hong Kong-style waffles (called "puffles") with liquid nitrogen ice cream that are so good they had to shut down (at least until August 31st). The reason: lines got too long, and they needed to figure out how to make supply meet demand. With that sentence alone, you know the fanaticism behind the bubble waffles and, specifically, their earl grey lavender ice cream, is real.
1421 W. MacArthur Blvd. Suite F, Santa Ana; cauldronicecream.com; Instagram: @cauldronicecream
2. Scoops OC (Santa Ana)
Not to be confused with Scoops N Scoops, Scoops OC is an extension of its famous flagship store in Los Angeles which has earned itself a cult-following. The praise is well-deserved; how many of us can dream up cheesecake burnt sugar, pop corn, and goat cheese flavors and make them not only good, but addicting? The special thing about this location is its collaboration with Contra Coffee and Tea (in other words: really good ice cream floats for all).
605 E Santa Ana Blvd, Santa Ana, (657) 210-0399; facebook.com/scoopsoc
1. The Dirty Cookie (Tustin)
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As kids, some of us have left Santa Claus milk and cookies (which were probably eaten by our parents--lucky them!) But imagine giving him cookie shots. That's what's happening at The Dirty Cookie: they're serving milk inside of cookie cups made of Belgian chocolate. You get to choose between chocolate chip, cookies n' cream, and red velvet cookie cups and, for milk, Madagascar vanilla cream, chocolate cream, vanilla almond, or the regular kind.
2493 Park Ave, Tustin, 949 324-1574; thedirtycookieoc.com; Instagram: @thedirtycookieoc