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The Great Hot Chocolate Search

  • m

Tonight a friend of mine was drinking a cup of hot chocolate and said, "you know I've never had a great cup of hot chocolate." This sparked a thought. Is there a place in LA that is famous for or just happens to have an amazing cup of hot chocolate?

I was brought up on Swiss Miss, and some of that with little marshmallows has always done wonders for me. But maybe there is something better out there that I'm not aware of.

I've had Starbucks hot chocolate, which I didn't care for. But that's the extent of my hot chocolate search.

Anyone one out there have any information regarding "The Great Hot Chocolate Search?"

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  1. Actually, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has quite a great cup of hot chocolate. Before you diss it, try it.

    I agree, Staryuck's hot chocolate is quite awful in comparison.

    1. h
      Hershey Bomar

      Jonathan Gold did an extensive hot chocolate search last year. Check LA WEEKLY for it. I think most of us on this board pretty much worhship his judgements so it's a really good place to start.

      Maybe someone has the link?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Hershey Bomar

        Could only find the cached version of Mr. Gold's hot choc. review, (see link below)...


        1. re: WLA

          an updated link to the Counter Intelligence hot chocolate story.

          Link: http://www.laweekly.com/index.php?opt...

      2. I had a delicious cup of hot chocolate at Toast. They used real chocolate instead of powder - just remember to stir it or you'll get a glob of molten chocolate when you reach the bottom.

        1. Clementine has an excellent hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows. It's awesome.

          Link: http://www.clementineonline.com

          1. InTemperantia Chocolates in the Palisades. Imported Belgium chocolate with heavy cream. Consider doctor's supervision.

            15324 Antioch

            1 Reply
            1. re: cvc

              AGREED!!! Best in S. Cal. Can't wait to see how the HC at the much praised (at least by former New Yorker's) City Bakery compares.

            2. This isn't strictly relevant to your post, but you both need to try champurrado... it's hot chocolate with spices that is slightly thickened with cornmeal. It's so good it's unreal. A good version is available at Tortas Mexico, on Ventura Blvd. near Vineland in Studio City, and on Foothill Blvd. near Pennsylvania in La Crescenta.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                I've not tried champurrado but I just wanted to correct the Tortas Mexico address, unless it's moved I believe it's east of Ocean View on Foothill, just into La Canada (not la Crescenta.)FWIW.

                1. re: cobalt

                  Both are correct. 2 locations.

                2. re: Das Ubergeek

                  BF loves Champurado and the best we've had so far is from Mama's Hot Tamles! Just great thick chocolately goodness...

                  The great thing about Champurado is the recipes all vary... some have more cinnamon, more chocolate, more masa... So it can be a real adventure ordering it around town... :)

                  As for 'real' HC, I liked the one they sell at Skoobys! :)


                3. The recently opened City Bakery in Brentwood is known in NYC for their hot chocolate. Has anyone tried it yet?

                  1. THe most amazing cup of hot chocolate I've had was at a bakery right by the Monterey Aquarium. It was made with the Scharffen Berger unsweetened cocoa powder (which you can buy from certain Whole Foods and other nicer groceries and use at home!). My opinion is that anyplace down here that makes their hot chocolate with Scharffen Berger chocolate has to be great. Does anyone know what places here make their hot chocolate with it?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kiwi

                      Hugo's uses shaved Scharffen Berger for hot chocolate.

                    2. Leonidas has locations in Santa Monica, Larchmont, and Old Town Pasadena. Now if only we could get a Jacques Torres here...

                      1. La Pain Quitoden ( sorry cant spell the name) has a decent hot chocolate. if you have the time and energy you can always make your own by buying the big chocolate chunks from whole foods.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Ashley

                          It's "Le Pain Quotidien" for those trying to Google. (Sorry, Ashley, I don't want to seem like a grammar snob!)

                        2. Anyone know where one can get churros y chocolate in L.A.?? No, not the Latin American churros... I'm talking about the stuff we used to get for breakfast in Madrid after a night of clubbing, just before hitting the sack at 8AM?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: JL

                            COBRAS & MATADORS may have what you are looking for, but I can't speak to whether it is the same as the Spanish version. Personally I prefer the churros and chocolate at LITERATI 2.

                            1. re: JL

                              Ha, ha. I think I had the same exact experience that you did in Madrid. Dancing till dawn... then going next door to a place that serve hot chocolate and churros...Yum!

                              Did you ever find the right place here in LA??

                            2. Fred's in Sherman Oaks does a great, rich hot chocolate. It comes with churros and cookies. The churros is a great accompaniement. I'd skip the cookies, which are just OK.

                              1. Hot Chocolate is probably the most fun food to explore new brands that you have not been tried before. We always have some Mexican Hot Chocolate from Pannikin Coffee and Tea (San Diego) but always try other Hot Chocolates. Last Winter we bought several name brands and did a family taste test -- blind test. Some of the stuff we did not really like at all but that must just be that our taste for chocolate is not that refined because we tried some very popular and respected brands. The names of the brands we tried are listed below. I thought we would like Marquise de Sevigne because a box of chocolates with that name does not last long in my house. Simply the best I have ever had. But as for the Hot Chocolate (We found it at Williams Sonoma online) I could not get this stuff to melt no matter what I tried (let it sit, heat it until it almost burns). Maybe a blender would work but that would ruin the milk. It has a bitter-sweet taste. I like it more right out of the can while making another brand. Schokinag – I could not relate this to chocolate at all. MarieBelle did mix better as it is more a powder with some chunks that brake into powder but again – not chocolate to me. Scharffen Berger? I must not be doing something right because none of us could relate that to chocolate. In the end we all liked the same two the most – Ghirardelli Double Chocolate and Godiva. If anything that probably only shows a regional taste preference because I have relatives in NYC that feel MarieBelle is best. Like I said, it is fun to taste them at the same time because tasting them all at the same time brings out the flavor that is in each of them. I recommend getting a few brands and a few friends together and try it yourself. Oh, my fav is from the counter at Hershey World, Hershey, PA. It was not a Hershey product but just something they sell at the counter. My next brand to try is something I read about on the Chowhound Boston Board – L.A. Berdicks. Two other names mentioned in other post here that we will try this year are Leonidas and In tem pe ran tia. Leonidas makes - IMO - the best macha.

                                Leonidas Chocolate Café (Belgium chocolates, Espresso, Mocha and gourmet hot chocolate drinks)
                                49 W. Colorado Blvd.
                                Pasadena , CA 91105-1922
                                (626) 577- 7121

                                Leonidas Chocolate Café (Belgium chocolates, Espresso, Mocha and gourmet hot chocolate drinks
                                )331 Santa Monica Blvd.
                                Santa Monica , CA 90401-2205
                                (310) 917-4496

                                In tem pe ran tia
                                15324 Antioch Street
                                Pacific Palisades,
                                CA, 90291
                                (800) 982-0088

                                Godiva (At shopping malls and Barnes & Noble

                                Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Cocoa Mix (At most super markets


                                L.A. Burdick

                                Marquise de Sevigne



                                Scharffen Berger

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Like-Go-Eat?

                                  In Tem Pe ran tia (however they spell it) in the Palisades is wonderful!

                                  Every year, we order online, tins of hot chocolate mix from Jacques Torres; regular and spicy. They make great holiday gift. (Just ordered mine.)

                                  1. re: Like-Go-Eat?

                                    leonidas was very, very sweet, but i guess that's relative.

                                  2. I second the Champurrado suggestion. If you want the same flavor without the thickening of the cornmeal, the Zona Rosa coffee shop in Pasadena has what they call Mexican hot chocolate.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Oro3030

                                      Another place for great Mexican (Salvadorean) chocolate is La Paz on Echo Park blvd., north of Sunset. I get the chocolate con leche. Wonderful.

                                      1. re: ckatt

                                        For Mexican Hot Chocolate, my favorite is Barrigan's on lower Sunset (Echo Park). Be sure to remind them you want it "con leche" instead of water.
                                        It's easy to make at home using a tablet of Ibarra. All hispanic markets carry Ibarra along with other brands. Ibarra is the best.

                                    2. So we're getting back into hot chocolate season. Does anyone have any new places to mention since this post circulated earlier this year? Or maybe someone else has tried some of the places mentioned.

                                      1. Okay, so Chantico at Starbucks is gone. It was good, sort of Angelina Rumplemeyer-esque, Parisian drinking chocolate. There is a place in Brentwood on Barrington, just south of San Vicente that also sells something like this. It's a little family-owned chocolate shop. I have no idea what the name is, I'm not a west-sider. Other than that, I'm at a loss. Maybe Leonidas, but they don't serve it at the Larchmont branch. Also, for the Mexican hot chocolate try Espresso Y Sabor (formerly Espresso Y Cultura) on Hollywood Boulevard around Gower. Or just buy the chocolate bars in the Mexican aisle of the Grocery stores -- they come in a yellow, octagonal box and you get about 20 portions for $3.

                                        1. OK...so I am sitting in Paris as we speak...I know, I know...its hard to come here 5 to 6 times a year for work but someone has to do it!!...and this afternoon my French collegue and I went for a late lunch at a tiny pastry/tea shop by the name of Christian Constant(he won the European Gold Medal for his chocolate in 2001/2002)...so we have a salad and a chocolat chaud...the most incredible, viscous, rich and not too sweet elixer I have ever tasted...now I have had other hot chocolate in Paris over the years...all excellent but this one was special...and I asked how they made it...well Christian himself came out and took my friend and me into the little kitchen and showed us how...it was easy...very easy...good chocolate and milk and a touch of sugar...that's all...melted, blended and served...that it !!

                                          There is no reason that any coffee/tea shop or pastry shop could not make this...I mean, we do have access to good chocolate in Los Angeles...I think we have milk and I am pretty darn sure we have sugar...so why no good chocolat chaud in LA...Is it possible that the American taste for sweet hot chocolate prevents us Angelenos from experiencing true bliss...the Leonidas stuff is tasty but not great...the Mexican hot chocolate is very, very good but not the same...So once again...is there any real French hot chocolate in So Cal?(besides my kitchen...Christian wrote down the recipe for us...did I say easy!!)

                                          1. Care to share the recipe in a bit more detail? I was going to try this with Splenda (both the straight stuff and the sugar/splenda hybrid, plus perhaps the baking version as well.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: broncosaurus

                                              I will post the recipe in Home Cooking...it is sooo easy!! I will be in Paris again next week so I will have to make his version before I leave and then try it at his tea salon and compare...I think it all comes down to the chocolate...the better it is the better the chocolate chaud!!

                                              1. re: TravelPath

                                                Thanks, really looking forward to trying it.

                                            2. i love the hot chocolate at Julienne's in San Marino.

                                              1. Clementine, Jin Patisserie, and Firefly Bistro have excellent hot chocolate. Jin Patisserie doesn't add marshmallows to their rendition, but Clementine and Firefly Bistro both add "homemade" marshmallows (I believe both add ones of the Little Flower Candy Co. variety). The one available at Firefly Bistro during brunch hours is more like the chocolat chaud one could get at Jean-Paul Hevin, Angelina's (ew, too sweet!), and other Parisian tea rooms only with marshmallows, BUT the one served during dinner hours is normal hot chocolate (not so great).

                                                I normally stick a cup of milk in the microwave with a few squares from a bar of dark (85%) Valrhona or El Rey. Nuke it for about 40 sec., take it out and stir it, and stick it in for the rest of the min.

                                                If you want a sugar-free version, you can use pure chocolate like a Baker's chocolate or Michel Cluizel 100 or an unsweetened powder (I prefer non-alkaline versions) and add Splenda to taste after microwaving the milk mixture/paste.

                                                1. Traditional Hot Chocolate
                                                  CIty Bakery in the Brentwood Country Mart. Thick and rich. Super thick and super rich. Seriously, this hot chocolate is so thick and rich it is almost like a hot cup of chocolate frosting. Comes with a home made marshmallow on the top. One cup 'll do ya.

                                                  Mexican Hot Chocolate
                                                  El Sazon Oaxaqueno on Washington Place in Mar Vista for the best Mexican Hot chocolate you have ever had. They shave real mexican chocolate into a pot of milk that they stir on the stove. It's rich and has a hint of cinnamon.

                                                  1. Simon LA in the Sofitel Hotel (La Cienega and Beverly) has a dessert that is Just like Spanish hot chocolate and churros.

                                                    I think they call it a grilled donut- it is a flattened but circular cinnamon-sugar donut served with a small cup of thick hot chocolate......

                                                    I have been back just for that dessert a couple of times

                                                    1. The hot chocolate at Chuao (locations in San Diego plus one at The Spectrum in Irvine) is very good !

                                                      1. See earlier link...Angelina in Paris is the hot chocolate of all hot chocolates!


                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: Fresser

                                                          I'd argue that its overwhelming sweetness gives it a syrupy consistency that is a bit unpleasant.

                                                          Give me Jean-Paul Hevin's chocolat chaud (or Toraya's matcha-chocolat) any day!

                                                          1. re: PseudoNerd

                                                            And do tell, PseudoNerd, where you find Jean-Paul Hevin's chocolat chaud or/and especially Toraya's matcha-chocolat...I am intrigued by the latter.

                                                            1. re: liu

                                                              only in Paris :/

                                                              The Toraya in NY might offer it, but I haven't been to that location...

                                                        2. Has anyone had the "drinking chocolate" at Sprinkles?

                                                          1. Best hot chocolate in the area is in Montrose near La Canada Flintridge (the hills above Glendale) - "The Black Cow" on Honolulu Ave - the mexican hot chocolate is amazing

                                                            1. just had an incredible chocolat chaud in la cañada of all places at CHOCOLATE BOX CAFE. not only did they have hot chocolate, they had hot chocolate with chili pepper, ginger, lavender, etc...the variety was amazing. maybe six or seven different kinds. it was not too sweet and perfectly rich. beautifully sleek store and cafe with good chocolate (belgian mostly) and helpful service. www.chocolateboxcafe.com

                                                              my benchmarks are RIVOIRE (firenze), JACQUES TORRES (brookyn), and the one i make at home with valrohna or whatever my swiss sister-in-law brings home for me.

                                                              1. I had a really great hot chocolate at Lucques. It came with spicy almonds and was so sugary it kinda gave me the shakes. It was like a drug. I loved it. I think she even gives that recipe in her cookbook. For me the key is the chocolate. Crap chocolate=crap beverage. i'm a valrohna girl all the way. It's yet to let me down.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: rachaels

                                                                  Right on, lady.

                                                                  (even though I sometimes deviate and use El Rey...)

                                                                2. if you're ever in the OC region, try the hot chocolate at Kean in Costa Mesa (on 17th) -- they have single origin "sippers" that are really good -- I'm trying to remember the countries the chocolate comes from -- I think Venezuela and Guatemala were two of my favorites