Best Hot Chocolate

Giacomo Coffee Bar

120 Stockton (at O'Farrell), 296-4907

"Charlie put the mug to his lips, and as the rich warm creamy chocolate ran down his throat into his empty tummy, his whole body from head to toe began to tingle with pleasure, and a feeling of intense happiness spread over him." If the desire for a cup of cocoa hits you at a time when you don't happen to be drifting down Willy Wonka's chocolate river, head to Union Square and queue up at Giacomo's little cart outside Macy's. Top-quality Guittard chocolate is folded into steamed milk and topped with a dollop of good Berkeley Farms whipped cream. As the cool, placid cream melts into the dark chocolate -- and into your stomach -- the shoppers and street folk and tourists recede into a chocoholic haze. Giacomo also serves cookies, pastries, croissants, and sandwiches as well as the usual-suspect lattes and cappuccinos. At Christmastime a stop here is a crucial respite from the surrounding yuletide madness -- especially with a shot of peppermint to add extra seasonal uplift.

 
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