Best Candy Shops - 2008
Satisfy your sweet tooth or pick up delightful presents at one of these Willy-Wonka-esque wonder emporiums.
214 Sutter (at Kearny), 399-9992
This minuscule shop, no bigger than a walk-in closet, packs an amazing amount of style, not to mention British and European sweets, into its limited space. More than 140 different candies, from mass-market bars like Crunchie, Curly-Wurly, and Milky Bar to brightly colored hard and chewy candies that line the shelves in black-topped glass jars, are sold from a marble-topped counter under arts-and-crafts lanterns. The pink-and-white Web site is an enjoyable, well-written browse.
4069 24th St. (at Castro), 641-8123
In addition to an overwhelming collection of fancy chocolate bars, artisanal chocolates, and chocolate sauces, the 14-year-old Chocolate Covered has two additional specialties: mass-market retro-themed metal lunch boxes and its own creation, blue-and-white tin boxes screen-printed with photographs of iconic San Francisco landmarks. The street-sign collection probably includes the one you grew up on, live on, or work on. There's even a group of boxes devoted to local school signs. Other cities have their places here, too — Eiffel Tower, anyone? — and, for an extra $10, the store will make a custom box with any photo you bring in.
1507 Vallejo (at Polk), 921-8000
This sleek, spare shop has glossy white walls and glossy wood floors, like a museum gallery. And, as in a gallery, the color comes from the art: brightly colored sweets in big glass jars, arranged like minimalist sculpture, and chic chocolate bars stacked in round-framed shelves. Specialties range from nostalgic old-fashioned candy bars sourced from around the country to witty acrylic cocktail shakers filled with chocolate "olives." The helpful staff will ship gift boxes (from their collection of licorice, caramel, and other themes, or created just for you) anywhere you'd like, too.
Shaws San Francisco
122 West Portal (at Vicente), 681-2702
Open since 1931, and once part of a thriving Northern California chain, this tiny independent neighborhood mom 'n' pop ice cream and candy store (scooping the wares of popular local creamery Mitchell's) also stocks cute gifts and impulse items like salt-and-pepper shakers, frames, and refrigerator magnets. The old-fashioned fudge is made in-house. Check out the festive holiday-themed window displays under the candy-striped awning.