A Roundup of Summer’s 6 Sweetest and Trendiest Treats in Orange County
Written By: Deanna Nguyen
Photography By: Hannah Wilson Orange County Desserts
Nothing is sweeter than digging your spoon into an ice cream croissant or sipping a fluffy milkshake through a turquoise straw under summer’s embrace. These days, dessert spots are popping up at every corner and luring those with and without a sweet tooth to try something new, delicious and trendy. To minimize your search, we’ve handpicked six sweet spots that are on the rise in Orange County—much like the temperature—that check off all the boxes. So before you melt from the heat, these special sweet treats will melt your tastebuds, all while feeding your Instagram with delectable aesthetics.
1 | Shut up and Take My Honey Orange County Desserts
As soon as you step inside Honey & Lavender, pastel colors with gold accents welcome you. What stemmed from a love for flowers and a trip to the Lavender Festival grew to become a pink and lavender space that offers soft serve ice cream, cakes and milk teas. “It’s a really small mom-and-pop shop, and we put a lot of effort in it,” said owner Yunju “Yuni” Aum. “I just wanted flowers and sweets mixed.” She also explained that the floral taste can be subtle and gentle rather than overpowering, which is why it goes really well with sweets. Every morning, Aum comes in and decides what will be on the menu; the cake menu changes every day. She tries dozens of ice cream bases as well, and the teas are brewed every morning. While the pretty aesthetics and high-quality flavors of her desserts are most important, she cultivates passion rather than simply running a business. Because of that, her desserts are growing, nurtured by that same passion and love (for honey and lavender!).
Honey & Lavender
18539 Yorba Linda Blvd
Yorba Linda, CA 92886
2 | His Milkshake Is Better Than Yours Orange County Desserts
Imagine walking into a bar, but the bartender slides you a milkshake in a martini glass on the counter instead. That’s what you’ll experience at The Straw, a milkshake parlor that owner Patrick Nguyen created out of a desire to step into the dessert industry while honing his bartending expertise. “Making a milkshake isn’t that different from making a cocktail,” said Nguyen. From the creation process of the drink menu to the service offered, The Straw has the semblance of a bar but the essence of a family-friendly dessert location. “It’s not just ice cream and straw,” said Nguyen. “We really put in a lot of love and thought in terms of how we want to present our milkshakes.” Growing up Vietnamese and eating the food with contrasting textures and flavors, Nguyen implemented the principles of Vietnamese food into his milkshakes, emphasizing that he didn’t want just one texture. And as for the purpose behind using a martini glass, the stem is so that your hand doesn’t melt the drink, making it the ideal drink during the summer. Side note: they do serve “boozy” milkshakes!
1215 Baker St, Ste A
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
3 | This Bar Is Poppin’ Orange County Desserts
You might’ve come across the decorative, handcrafted frozen treat on a stick at various locations before, and there’s a reason why. Popbar has become a pop-ular franchise with its customizable options, fruity and sweet flavors and plentiful toppings. Jacky Chan, owner of the Pacific City location in Huntington Beach, believes that the aesthetic and the quality are both essential to running a dessert shop. He revealed that they would sometimes run polls to hear feedback from customers as far as what flavors they’d like to see Popbar produce next. “We use all-natural ingredients so some flavors are hard to do,” said Chan. “We try to listen to our customers and be creative with our flavors.” The Popbar is an entirely different concept from your standard popsicle. “Comparing to other concepts, we’re a healthier option,” explained Chan. What he hopes is for families to think about Popbar whenever they crave for desserts, especially during the summer. If you’re in LOT 579 at Pacific City, swing by Popbar after you’ve had a meal—or skip it and go straight to dessert!
21010 Pacific Coast Hwy, Ste M122
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
4 | Over the Moo-n
Born from a love of myths, magic and fantasy is The Moo Gelato where you can find mythical and legendary creatures such as unicorns and mermaids in the form of colorful and dreamy ice cream. “Our goal [for The Moo Gelato] continues to be an ideal spot for guests of all ages to come and experience the desserts that [are] not only delicious, but also decorated in the most fun ways,” said owner Stefanie Bui. Creating the desserts is all about the twist, and Bui ensures she and her team find inspiration from seasonal fruits, popular chocolates and anything trendy. From puffle cones to a straw pierced through a slice of cake, the sparkly and magical desserts are perfect for your foodie Instagram page. “Above all, we value customer experiences, so if you’re coming in whether it’s your first time or for a celebration, we always want you to leave happy with your choice of gelato,” explained Bui. Before you pick out your dessert, don’t hold back on their unlimited samplings!
The Moo Gelato
7170 Edinger Ave
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
The challenge with ice cream is creating flavors that no one has ever done before—and making sure it exceeds expectations through quality. For Steve Kim, owner of Drill’d Ice Cream, he had no qualms about being “wacky” and pushing boundaries, especially when it came to the tool that they use: an aeronautic grade steel drill. “We pretty much had inspiration from the East Coast,” shared Kim. “There were some places over there that have been using the drill machine…for 10 to 20 years but for yogurt.” Curious about the potential of the machine for ice cream, Kim and his business partner, Eugene Inose, decided to try ingredients that went beyond the realm of desserts such as chips and avocados. They also ventured into cereals; Kim explained, “I really wanted to be able to bring together different age groups with cereal, toppings and different flavors, and have them create their own childhood memory.” One of their main goals is to improve the quality of what they give. “We’re always going to be innovative. We’re always going to create new flavors,” said Kim.
Drill’d Ice Cream
18279 Brookhurst St, Ste 2
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
Within the bustling Union Market at The District lies Churned Creamery. Owner Tuan Le, who used to work in mechanical engineering before he got introduced to the dessert industry, explained the concept of fresh, churned ice cream, saying “Customers like to see things being made in front of them.” And that’s exactly what you see when you stop by: canisters of different ice cream flavors in a constant churning process in order to produce a premium, artisan quality. “Without that churned consistency, it would just be regular Baskin-Robbins ice cream,” said Le. What makes his location different is that it’s the core of where they bring out innovative ideas. One example is the emoji macarons, which go perfectly with ice cream. Le said, “It’s the quality that’s most important that we try to accomplish with our customers first. Then it’s cosmetics, which is Instagram-worthy.” With an extensive menu filled with unique flavors, their signature CroCream and drinks, Churned Creamery is sure to churn up the summer!
2493 Park Ave, Ste 21
Tustin, CA 92782