Here’s where you should be eating ice cream in East County

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East County plays host to a number of delicious ice cream spots and, given the recent heat wave and the promise of a relentless summer, it might not be a bad idea to become familiar with the best places to go when the sidewalk reaches egg-frying degrees. 

East County plays host to a number of delicious ice cream spots and, given the recent heat wave and the promise of a relentless summer, it might not be a bad idea to become familiar with the best places to go when the sidewalk reaches egg-frying degrees. 

Of course, every spot is a little different, and everyone has their own unique tastes, so to do a proper review of what East County has to offer, four factors will be taken into consideration: quality, price, creativity and atmosphere. 

Take a gander. 

 

COOKIE MONSTER

This is a nice little nook in Santee, close the the highway and an In-N-Out, so it gets top marks for location. Despite the elementary images the name might bring to mind, Cookie Monster, under new management, is actually a pretty classy establishment. 

Inside, the spacious store looks very millennial with black and white walls and some sparse, whimsical wall art. 

The store specializes in Thai-inspired flavors of both ice cream and beverages, including a black sesame soft-serve that is not for the faint of taste buds.

But their ice cream sandwiches are where the real action takes place. Each sandwich is made to order in the store, with patrons able to select a macaron flavor for the sandwich and an ice cream and toppings for the filling. 

The ice cream does not disappoint, nor does the colorful, chewy cookie. 

Although not inexpensive, the whole experience, the clean, comfortable space and the well-crafted ice cream sandwich, not to mention the accommodating customer service, was certainly worth the shillings shelled out.

Quality: Four stars

Price: Four stars

Creativity: Four stars

Atmosphere: Four stars

 

MENCHIES

Tucked away in the best part of La Mesa, Menchies is waiting to be discovered.

Go. Eat. Experience.

It may look like a regular frozen yogurt joint, but its simplicity is deceiving. 

Firstly, it must be mentioned that Menchies has extremely affordable froyo, which is an attractive quality for any establishment. But the quality of the yogurt does not suffer for this, and the variety of flavors and toppings to choose from were completely satisfactory. 

It is a good place to take the kids. There is plenty of space, both inside and out, and plenty to choose from (in case picky eaters are among the crew). 

Quality: Four stars

Price: Five stars

Creativity: Three stars

Atmosphere: Four stars

 

TASTEE TEMPTATIONS

If shaved ice has never sounded intriguing, it is time to have a change of heart.

Tastee Temptations is hands-down one of the best hidden gems in East County. 

The shop, somewhere in the middle of Parkway Plaza mall in El Cajon, may look unassuming upon first entry, but do not be fooled. 

This place is the home of the best shaved ice in the county. The ice is silky smooth and does not deteriorate in quality they way a snowcone does. Whatever syrup they use — and it probably features some kind of other-worldly magic — is robust and high-quality. Do not expect it to melt into the bottom of the cup. The whole composition will be perfect from the first bite to the last, and the syrup options include everything from tropical fruits to local flavors like tajín and chamoy. 

But perhaps more exciting is the loaded snowball, which is, essentially, a scoop of ice cream inside a snowcone. 

The ice cream is nothing special in itself, but it adds to the already top-shelf shaved ice, making for a delightful experience. 

Come for the ice cream, stay for the friendly staff and the board games available at the counter. 

Quality: Five stars

Price: Four stars

Creativity: Five stars

Atmosphere: Four stars

 

GOLDEN SPOON

Golden Spoon is a franchise establishment, but the one in East County – located off Lake Murray road – differs greatly from its counterpart in North Park. Most notably, it offers quite a spread of sundaes, like the PB&J and the Mud Pie, all of which feature gelato. 

Golden Spoon certainly looks like a red carpet eatery, and it is also priced like one. The ice cream is expensive, even with the weekly happy hour deals, Monday-Friday between 4-6 p.m. when toppings are free. 

The gelato is good, and the sundae concepts are intriguing, but not blow-your mind good and certainly not a place to go if cash flow is a concern. 

But if you like living ritzy or you want to impress someone on a date, Golden Spoon is a nice treat. The inside of the establishment is gorgeous, with red walls and black chairs and the name hanging in golden letters across the wall. 

The staff is friendly and helpful and there are a lot of options to choose from.

Quality: Three stars

Price: Two stars

Creativity: Three stars

Atmosphere: Five stars

 

PENGUIN YOGURT FACTORY

This is a good spot for frozen yogurt. The inside is nicely decorated and the flavors are unique — try the banana flambe! The price is affordable and the toppings are on point. 

Although seating inside is limited, there is plenty outside.

Located off Mission Gorge road in Santee, the Penguin Yogurt Factory is easy to get to and there is plenty of parking. And if you like penguins, this place has plenty of them.

Quality: Four stars

Price: Five stars

Creativity: Three stars

Atmosphere: Four stars

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