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Chocolatiers of SF

north2south Mar 11, 2010 04:59 PM

I will be visiting SF later this month and I have a thing for chocolate: bars, truffles, drinks, etc. Where should I go?

  1. w
    waldrons Mar 11, 2010 05:43 PM

    Oh, so many places. If you want an organized tour, try this: http://www.gourmetwalks.com/html/chocolate_tour.html?gclid=CMTyp52WsqACFQaiagod7zVLSQ

    And if you're here on the 20th of March, there's a chocolate salon at Fort Mason. http://www.sfchocolatesalon.com/

    On your own, there's XOX Truffles in North Beach (French-style, not American-style truffles... the caramel is my favorite).

    Fog City News has a great selection of chocolate bars from all over (on Market Street in the Financial District).


    1. Ruth Lafler Mar 11, 2010 07:12 PM

      As Susan said, there are a lot of choices. If you have time and access to a car you might want to head over to Berkeley and hit Chocolatier Blue on 4th St. and Xocolate Bar on Solano Ave. I think they're two of the best local chocolatiers at the moment. There are also several in Oakland: Michael Mischer, Socola, Cosmic, Vice, Barlovento -- of those, only Cosmic and Mischer have store fronts, but Socola is available at Daily Delectables just down the block from Mischer; the rest sell through other retailers and farmers markets.

      However, you might just want to do a Market St. stroll: from the Ferry Building at the foot of Market (chocolate makers Recchiuti and Scharffen Berger, and Village Market has some interesting chocolates as well), past Fog City news (an amazing collection of high-end bars and a very knowledgeable staff), poke your head into Confetti (which carries Neuhaus and Charles Chocolates, among others), and finally to Cocoabella in the Westfield Center, which carries an array of high-end chocolates from numerous small chocolatiers.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ruth Lafler
        waldrons Mar 12, 2010 08:12 PM

        Also in the Westfield Center is Charles Chocolates (which are made in Berkeley... this is a SF retail location).


      2. j
        jsaimd Mar 11, 2010 09:11 PM

        i share your obsession with chocolate and Susan and Ruth have given you good advise.

        I second Recchiuti; i particularly like his fleur del sel (nice dark carmel) and the star anise pink peppercorn.

        Also like Chris Blue's stuff - his citrus flavors are very nice, things with bright flavors stand up well to the Amedei ganache. It is nice if you can catch him at the University shop, because he is fun to talk to.

        Less of a fan of Charles (now in SF, except for the peanut butterflies), Michner except a couple of his bars. I like some of Barlovento truffles, but dislike their bars.

        Hit Cocoabella, but if you can hit the main location you will get a larger selection of chocolate. Not local, but i really enjoy Lillibelle they serve there.

        Whole Foods carries some local chocolatiers - don't miss Poco Dolce, especially if you like dark toffee - their salted toffee sqaures are wonderful. Cocoa Delice is another local chocolatier.

        If you find yourself at the ferry building on Saturday NeoCocoa truffles will be there. I personally like XOX better, but others prefer NeoCocoa - you be the judge.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jsaimd
          Ruth Lafler Mar 12, 2010 07:38 AM

          One of the reasons I mentioned Village Market in the Ferry Building is that they carry Poco Dolce; since it's right across the hall from Recchuiti, you can kill two birds with one stop. I agree completely that the Recchuiti fleur de sel caramel is that best of that genre -- and I've tried a lot of fleur de sel caramels! And I agree about Barlovento -- I wouldn't say that I dislike their bars, but their ganache-filled chocolates (not really truffles) are the way to go, especially the Meyer lemon. If you make it to XOX, I really love the burnt caramel truffle there. Jsaimd, if you like toffee, and you like spices in your chocolate, then hie yourself to Fog City News and check out the Chocolate Moderne Kashmir bar (ignore the fact that it's milk chocolate, it's spectacular).

        2. bbulkow Mar 11, 2010 09:18 PM

          Regarding bars - if you are at a bar, scan the bottles for Van Gogh Chocolate Vodka. It's in a clear bottle with Van Gogh's sunflowers on the outside. If you see such a bottle, they'll make you a chocolate martini. I don't know exactly where the specialists are, though. There are variants, like a chocolate espresso martini. The best I ever had was some chocolate / lemon blend at a long-closed place called Moxie - 100% random, just asked the bartender what he had been working on.

          1. v
            vulber Mar 11, 2010 09:59 PM

            If you really want to learn about chocolate, go to Chocolate Covered on 24th street. The owner will tell you everything you want to know about chocolate, local, national, and international, while letting you sample whatever piques your interest, several of which are exclusive in the country to his shop (like the camel milk chocolate).

            1. pilinut Mar 11, 2010 11:12 PM

              We have a new bean-to-bar chocolate maker: TCHO. I don't know if they're doing tours of the facility at this point. All four bars are bittersweet.

              The Bay Area is a great place if you like chocolate. Previous posters have already mentioned most of my favorites: XOX (champagne and cognac truffles), Poco Delice (cognac truffles, salty caramels), and Jade (masterfully flavored bars), along with several others. . .


              4 Replies
              1. re: pilinut
                Melanie Wong Mar 19, 2010 02:45 PM

                I like the Jade bars very much, especially the new milk chocolate one with terracotta salt. Another bar that was interesting and delicious to me, but perhaps not for everyone is the Vice fig and anise bar.
                Also like the sage bark (infused with pine needles too) by Saratoga Chocolates.


                Saratoga Chocolates
                14572-B Big Basin Way, Saratoga, CA 95070

                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  waldrons Mar 21, 2010 05:19 PM

                  I just tried the Dragon Breath from Jade at the Chocolate Salon yesterday, and is it interesting! Sesame, lapsang souchong and chili, it's a very complex flavor -- not something I could eat an entire bar of at one sitting, but definitely wakes up your palate!


                  1. re: waldrons
                    Melanie Wong Mar 21, 2010 05:36 PM

                    I offered a taste of the Jade Dragons Breath to a friend. He thought it tasted like dirt and was way too spicy. I'm told the Mahal is the most popular.


                    Any other finds to report from the Salon?

                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                      waldrons Mar 21, 2010 07:40 PM

                      I'm away from my notes, but I do remember Clarine's Florentines, which are excellent versions of the almond tuille cookies w/bittersweet chocolate. Good enough that I actually bought some!


              2. north2south Mar 12, 2010 08:42 AM

                Wow -- this is all very helpful. Thanks!

                1. Kazy Ctn Mar 12, 2010 09:50 AM

                  I'm quite surprised no one has mentioned Joseph Schmidt in the Castro...

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Kazy Ctn
                    Ruth Lafler Mar 12, 2010 10:30 AM

                    Joseph Schmidt (a) was bought by Hershey's a while back and (b) was closed by Hershey's last year, and (c) was never very good to begin with (IMHO, of course).

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler
                      bbulkow Mar 13, 2010 07:25 AM

                      Schmidt made very pretty chocolates - like those huge flowers - without much taste. Imho.

                      On an industrial note: does Guittard do tours?

                      1. re: bbulkow
                        Ruth Lafler Mar 13, 2010 08:31 AM

                        According to their website, no. Interestingly, it's the second item on their FAQ, so there must be a fair amount of demand.

                  2. p
                    pauliface Mar 12, 2010 11:51 AM

                    I recently stumbled upon "Christopher Elbow" at 401 hayes street (on my way for favulous macarons at Paulette's).
                    I got some chocolates there that were just lovely.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: pauliface
                      jsaimd Mar 12, 2010 01:10 PM

                      Yes I meant to put that in the recs - I really like their infused caramels. Their ganache is good, but I prefer their caramels and other chocolatiers ganache. They also have hot chocolate which I haven't tried. Hot chocolate is one of those things that I find I like best at home, but there was a recent thread on it.

                      Also, I have enjoyed some of the chocolate ice creams at Humphrey Slocombe. If only I could find a chocolate sorbet of the quality I had in France...oh wow that was good... I just have to make it at home...

                      1. re: jsaimd
                        Windy Mar 13, 2010 02:36 PM

                        Both fudgesicle at Humphrey Slocombe and the chocolate gelato at Copa Loca are like the chocolate Italian ices I loved as a kid. (Try the fudgesicle topped with amarena cherries.)

                        Christopher Elbow has a few good truffles, but their prices are exhorbitant. Higher than Recchiuti and not in the same league as far as quality.

                        Cocoa Bella in Westfield has LilleBelle Farms' cayenne caramels from Oregon.

                    2. Zach Georgopoulos Mar 21, 2010 12:03 AM

                      Wow, until I went through this thread I didn't realize how many chocolatiers there now are in SF! Since I don't see it mentioned here, I'll weight in that my favorite for truffles is Coco-Luxe, at Haight & Cole.

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