Summer in San Francisco means it's hot chocolate time. Sure, global warming continues to loom and we'll get random spurts of traditional summer weather occasionally (much to the dismay of tourists who think they beat the system by purchasing a pastel “San Francisco” sweatshirt). That being said, however, and back to the point: hot chocolate and foggy weather are a combination that can't
So when you catch yourself with a craving and don't have access to a microwave to make a prepackaged cup from the lovely Swiss Miss ladies, here are five contenders in and around the city, with a little something unique for every option that make them worth trying.
[jump] Dandelion Chocolate's house hot chocolate. If you find yourself in this hipster pocket of the Valencia Street corridor, Dandelion is your best bet for classic, American-style hot chocolate (pictured above). It's not overly sweet, but still hot and creamy enough to be a delectable treat. On top of that, it comes with a mini oatmeal cookie on the side and all the delightful, housemade marshmallows you can handle. If the thin, classic American version isn't your jam, try Dandelion's thicker and more decadent European hot chocolate. If you're not experiencing chocolate sweats at this point, they also have a frozen hot chocolate and a spicy Mexican hot chocolate. Dandelion Chocolate, 740 Valencia St., 415-349-0942 or dandelionchocolate.com.
Nopalito's Mexican spiced hot chocolate. You wouldn't think that Nopalito, a San Francisco favorite for modern Mexican eats, would have a good hot chocolate. But, they do, and like the rest of their menu, it's wonderful. Naturally, it's a Mexican-spiced hot chocolate and it's a perfect hot chocolate marriage of both sweet and spicy. Also, for some reason it's only available at their Inner Sunset location. So the next time you're on that side of the park and wanting Mexican food and/or a delicious hot chocolate, grab a seat at their bar (if you just want a drink) and order up either or both. You're welcome. Nopalito, 1224 9th Ave., 415-233-996 or nopalitosf.com.
Jade Chocolates' passion fruit hot chocolate. Jade Chocolates is a little boutique chocolate shop in the Inner Richmond that crafts beautiful small-batch, artisan chocolates inspired by Asian spices and teas (they have a chocolate Genmaicha rice bar that is almost literally to die for). What sets Jade apart is not only that their hot cocoas are made by melting down their own high-quality chocolate, but also the delightful varieties that they come
Cafe Madeleine's hot chocolate. Cafe Madeleine is a lovely staple for anyone who works in the general FiDi area, with three convenient locations (one in SOMA, one on California St. near the Embarcadero, and another in Union Square) that all serve the same tasty salads and sandwiches. However, their cafes also boast what I'm going to say is the best hot chocolate downtown. It's flavorful without being too sweet and decadent enough without making you feel heavy after drinking it. What sets it apart, though, are the following four words: homemade chocolate whip cream. Cafe Madeleine, 43 O'Farrell St, 415-362-1713 or cafemadeleinesf.com.
Bittersweet's classic hot chocolate. Bittersweet the Chocolate Cafe is a chocolate shop and cafe with two locations in Oakland that's totally worth braving BART or paying a toll fare to try. If the fact that they're a chocolate cafe doesn't already entice you (they have a variety of chocolate drinks including a spicy chocolate milkshake, chocolate chai, a coconut chill drink with melted chocolate, and sell their own dark chocolate quinoa bars), then at least try their hot chocolate. It comes in several different variations including white, salted caramel, and bittersweet, but the original classic is the way to go if you're a hot chocolate purist. Theirs is made from their own chocolate that's ground up in-house, has the perfect consistency, and is incredibly flavorful. In fact, after I tried theirs, it's been incredibly difficult to justify paying for any other cup since. Bittersweet, the Chocolate Cafe, 1438 Broadway St., Oakland, 510-238-8700, and 5427 College Ave., Oakland, 510-654-7159 or bittersweetcafe.com.