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6 of the best vegan milkshakes in L.A.

Jan 07, 2024

Thick, creamy ice cream, teetering on the edge of iciness, pulled slowly through a straw is some of the finest dessert engineering ever created. It doesn’t matter if you’re perched on a stool at an old-timey soda fountain or seated in your car in a fast-food parking lot — nothing hits like a shake.

Cool off this season with our ongoing guide to the best frozen treats in Los Angeles.

While L.A. is home to some of California’s best ice cream parlors, fewer options exist for those hunting for the milkshake sans milk, but a number of textbook-perfect examples can be found across the region’s vegan restaurants. The thirst for dairy-free milkshakes extends far beyond the plant-based community. Lactose intolerance is often hereditary and, according to a 2017 study across 89 countries, lactose malabsorption affects roughly 68% of the population.

“We have people come in almost every day and go, ‘I literally have not had a shake in 10 years,’ and they’re not vegan but they don’t eat dairy,” said Nic Adler, a co-owner of local plant-based chain Monty’s Good Burger. “To be able to give people that opportunity is definitely a bonus.”

Whatever your reason for seeking out the dairy-free treats — whether made from oats, almonds, soy or even pea protein — here are some of L.A.’s finest.


From burger joints to artisan ice cream parlors, where to find the best soft serve in Los Angeles, whether new or nostalgic.

Aug. 4, 2023

Undisputably one of L.A.’s lords of the vegan-shake domain, the soy-and-almond-milk ones at Burgerlords are some of the best and most popular in the region. What makes them stand so tall, all in a short 12-ounce plastic cup? Tahini. And they don’t skimp on it, either. Both the Highland Park and the Chinatown locations use Soom-brand tahini, whose 100% sesame paste adds a silken texture and a nuttiness that works exceedingly well for a savory edge.

It especially shines in the coffee shake, which comes sprinkled with coffee on top and infused with coffee syrup within, though it’s also excellent in vanilla, strawberry, Oreo and chocolate. The shake contenders aren’t necessarily icy, nor are they thick and diner-style. These tahini shakes maintain perfect consistency and slurpability from first taste until the last drop. Though Burgerlords is no longer an entirely vegan operation, adding meat back into its offerings earlier this year, there are still plenty of plant-based items on its menus — including the shakes, all of which remain dairy-free.Chinatown: 943 N. Broadway, Suite 102, Los Angeles; Highland Park: 110 N. Avenue 56, Los Angeles,

Everything at Dear Bella Creamery is vegan, from the house-made coconut-and-oat ice cream base to the magical, crunchy, sticky “bee-free” honeycomb that’s constructed from tapioca and dairy-free cocoa butter. What’s more, any flavor at the Hollywood and Costa Mesa scoop shops can be whirred into milkshake form. And all of those details studded in the ice cream — house cookie dough, that “honeecomb,” jam-filled Italian butterless cookies, house-made peanut butter cups — add delightful pops of texture through the straw.

Founders and longtime vegans Belinda Wei and Alice Cherng wanted to open a scoop shop that gave plant-based diners not only the same experience that dairy-based parlors offer but also a taste of their childhoods: Dear Bella’s regularly stocks Taiwanese and pan-Asian flavors like black sesame, Vietnamese iced coffee, matcha with mango, and lychee rose.

One of the shop’s signatures, and Wei’s favorite flavor, is the Taiwanese pineapple cake, which riffs on the classic, pineapple-filled cookie by blending it into pineapple ice cream. When transformed into a shake, it’s bright, tropical and creamy with flecks of buttery (non-butter) shortbread.Hollywood: 1253 Vine St., Suite 12, Los Angeles, (323) 848-4672; Costa Mesa: 2930 Bristol St., Suite A103, Costa Mesa, (657) 600-8104,

A longtime staple of L.A.’s vegan community, Doomie’s is a leading name in the area’s plant-based dining but especially in milkshakes. The casual comfort-food spot is also one of the most decadent, offering American classics, late-night eats, “bone-in” fried chicken, smothered fries, carnival items like deep-fried Oreos, peanut butter bacon burgers, churro cookies and other “vegan gluttony” specialties. Among them is a litany of customizable shakes made from a soy and coconut base of hard-pack, hand-scooped ice cream, making for some of the thickest shake consistencies in L.A.

These are hefty, almost brick-like treats and they can be ordered in nearly two dozen flavors: horchata, salted caramel, strawberry shortcake, mint, tiramisu, peach, birthday cake, pineapple and beyond. Any Doomie’s shake can take on extra flavor and flourish from add-ons and add-ins like coffee, Oreos, mint, strawberries or chocolate syrup, and can be topped with some of the thickest house-made nondairy whipped cream in the game.253 Vine St., Suite 9, Los Angeles, 323) 469-4897,


Los Angeles loves Mateo’s. Since 2000, the ice cream shop’s Oaxacan-inspired frozen treats have delighted locals with fruity flavors from mamey to mango, and more. We tried every flavor of paleta.

Aug. 18, 2023

Actor-comedian Kevin Hart and the rest of the Hart House team couldn’t build a classic all-vegan fast-food company without a little something sweet. The new, local chain with outposts in Westchester, Monrovia, Exposition Park and Hollywood — which sports a drive-through — serves burgers, fries, tater tots, salads, Chick’n sandwiches and nuggets, and finishes on a sweet note with thick shakes in classic flavors. They’re hand-spun to order in strawberry, chocolate, vanilla and the most popular, Oreo, and available in 12- and 16-ounce sizes.

Pea protein, with its lightly earthy and bright flavor, serves as the lead nondairy ingredient, avoiding the use of nut and soy milks for those with allergies, and while the recipe to the soft-serve-like base is secret, it does involve coconut oil. Hart House’s shakes are also free of oats, which, while gluten-free themselves, can come into contact with wheat and other glutinous grains during the farming, sorting, storage and transportation processes.

“We try to make our shake as accessible as possible,” says chief operating officer Bridget Siegel. Keep an eye out for the occasional special, such as the anniversary “House Party” shake with mint cream, coconut whip and chocolate drizzle, which will run Aug. 25 to Sept. 12.Manchester: 8901 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles; Hollywood: 6800 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles; Monrovia: 602 W. Huntington Drive, Monrovia; Exposition Park: 3726 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles,

The shakes at Monty’s are so popular they’ve taken on a life of their own. They go viral on social media, they fundraise for animal-wellness causes, they’re vehicles for celebrity collabs, and they’re ordered so frequently that when the retro-inspired local vegan chain first opened, one shake machine after another ceased to function from being put to work at such a rapid pace. Sure, Monty’s is beloved for its burgers, chicken sandwiches and tots, but the shakes have developed a rabid following of their own.

Founder Nic Adler missed the array of shakes from West Hollywood’s now-shuttered Millions of Shakes and hoped to re-create some of its whimsy, but plant-based. Adler’s team began with hard-pack ice cream, but as his chain expanded, they switched to soft-serve machines, which now pump out an almost fluffy oat-based product that serves as the base for shake flavors like coffee, strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, mocha and a now-permanent collab, Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker’s matcha oat latte. The cookie shakes — wherein cookies are blended in and also stuck into the top — first appeared on the restaurants’ “not-so-secret menu” but became so popular they eventually made the list of permanent, public offerings.

Monty’s shakes come swirled into tall cups or half servings, often laced with decorative syrups, fresh strawberry purée or cookie crumbles, and topped with coconut whipped cream. They are, without a doubt, some of L.A.’s best and most colorful, and are all but guaranteed to satisfy.

“There’s nothing bad about a milkshake, other than if you have too many of them,” said Adler. “You can’t be sad drinking a milkshake, and so there’s just this inherent happiness that’s built into the experience.”Koreatown: 516 S. Western Ave., Los Angeles; Echo Park: 1533 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles; Culver City: 3849 Main St., Culver City; Riverside: 3605 Market St., Riverside,

It’s been years since the world’s first Johnny Rockets closed its doors on Melrose, but it’s fitting that the current resident of the neon-lit, counter-seat spot is still serving burgers and shakes — it’s just that now they’re all vegan. At Nomoo, “a better kind of burger joint,” the barbecue burger comes with “facon” (faux bacon) strips, the Caesar is topped with Chick’n, the wings are made from mushrooms, and the shakes evoke nostalgia without a drop of dairy. Nomoo’s team previously made its own almond-milk base in-house, requiring an 18-hour process, but more recently opted for oat milk in consideration of those with nut allergies.

They hand-spin the shakes in a machine near the register, next to an illustration of Nomoo’s big blue shake — Blue Majik, the most popular flavor — here glowing from its outline of pink neon light. Nomoo’s creamy, thick, diner-style shakes in tall, filled-to-the-brim cups come in vanilla malt, strawberry, chocolate fudge, Oreo cookie and that Blue Majik (vanilla blended with spirulina, naturally blue-green algae), and can be topped with creamy coconut whip and rainbow sprinkles, cookie crumbles or strawberry or chocolate syrup. They’re best enjoyed with the restaurant’s double cheeseburgers, wings or “cheezy” tacos, though these shakes are so filling they’re practically a meal unto themselves.7507 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 433-4990,