Best Sweets Shop San Francisco 2005 -
754 Columbus (at Filbert), 421-4814, www.xoxtruffles.com
The mystery surrounding European chocolatiers always seemed a bit like hokum until we wandered into XOX Truffles. The shop is a funky little slice of lower Columbus Avenue charm, its windows plastered over with accolades, including a few that are handwritten ("Rated Ultimate by Food Network's Dave Rosengarten" screams one in blue marker). But step into the shop, heady with chocolate aroma, and you know you've done something right. Chef Jean-Marc Gorce is often behind the counter, cradling his aluminum bowl, dispensing wisdom on "shockolots" as he shapes the little balls by hand. After biting into one, it's nearly impossible not to moan, close your eyes, or cuss -- there's something unexpected about the mix of flavor, texture, and scent. Instantly your priorities shuffle, and Godiva becomes no better than a Whitman's Sampler. XOX offers more than 20 kinds of truffles, many of them alcoholic, and a soy vegan option. We recommend asking for a bit of everything and doubling up on your favorites, if you can manage to single any out.