Summer calls for cool refreshment, and one of the best frigid options is the no-longer-humble popsicle. Ice or milk-based bars are flavored with nearly unlimited options. If you prefer your popsicles with alcohol, Corazon Y Miel plunges their paletas into a cocktail, and Diablo Taco allows people to dip a tomato or yuzu popsicle into a choice of craft beer, creating a Michelada effect. Here are eight of my favorite L.A. popsicles, available to Angelenos of all ages.
Numbered establishments on the map correspond to information below for easy reference. Establishments also appear in alphabetical order instead of in order of preference.
1. Cascada Refrescante Paletas ($2): This South L.A. Mexican ice parlor, which was hopping during the recent Central Avenue Jazz Festival, has been around for about a decade, run by a woman from Acapulco, Mexico. Cascada Refrescante features some playful, layered paletas. Bionico is a milk-based popsicle with strawberries, bananas, papaya, cantaloupe, apple and cream, raisins, coconut and granola. Pico de Gallo is an ice-based popsicle studded with watermelon, jicama, cucumber, and mango, seasoned with chile, lime and salt, a riff on spicy Mexican street fruit.
2. The Ice Bar Ice Pops ($3.25): L.A. native Eugene Mar planned on opening a fire and ice concept in Las Vegas, with fiery Taiwan-style hot pots and frozen ice pops. However, a fruitless real estate hunt in the Nevada desert convinced him to return to L.A. and focus on ice (bars) in a former West Covina fro-yo shop. The modern space features white tables and chairs, along with a Tetris-like wall assembled with grey, white and aqua panels. The Ice Bar’s menu includes “Sweet & Creamy” Nutella Bananas & Cream, “Tangy & Sour” Strawberry Lemonade, and my personal favorite, the “Light & Refreshing” Korean Pear Blueberry bar. Mar dresses a two-toned fruit ice bar with Calpico gel, blueberry gel, fresh frozen blueberries and a dusting of micro-herbs: lemon thyme and Thai basil.
3. Mateo’s Ice Cream & Fruit Bars Ice Cream Bars ($1.75): Oaxaca native Priciliano Mateo Bautista has proven to be quite the paleta maven, with three Mateo’s Ice Cream & Fruit Bars locations scattered throughout Los Angeles, and certainly one of the city’s largest popsicle varieties. He divides paleta flavors by Fruit Cream (milk-based) or Real Fruit (ice-based). Favorites include Nance (yellow cherry), Black Sapote or Guava, many bars embedded with fresh fruit.
4. MILK Ice Cream Bars ($5): Lucy Danovic’s glass-fronted cafe with the Art Deco spire provides plenty of sweet distractions from daily life in Mid-City, and soon enough, Silver Lake. MILK contains a counter overflowing with pastries and cakes. A variety of frozen treats includes indulgent ice cream bars in flavors like Strawberry Shortcake, Cookies and Cream, Nutella, and Coconut.