Charlie and The Chocolate Factory is a wonderful story.  The Wonka phenomenon runs generations deep – we loved it, our kids love it, only hitch is it leaves us and our kids with one remaining dilemma.  We can’t eat the book.  Or the movie.  It’s a problem.

Or it was, until now.

Welcome, Chocovivo.  Grab your kids, grab your friends’ kids, everybody get ready to eat the dream.  Class is officially, in session.  And it’s the best. Class.  EVER.

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Distilling a food down to the purest denominator always results in food at its most phenomenal – but teaching this to a generation who’s witnessed cheese come from a can, it’s a hard learned lesson.  So what do we do when we can’t get through?  We look to the most revered of all fun foods to do our educating for us.  Chocolate.  Yes, chocolate can teach your kids that all-natural, unrefined, farm to table (and now bean to bar) is not only the healthiest but the most pleasing to the palate.  Kids don’t know from palate yet?  Wait, that end will be taken care of too.  Welcome to your classroom.  Snacks provided.

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May we introduce Professor Patricia Tsai, who just might actually be Cinderella’s long lost foodie godmother.  Founder of Chocovivo, she waved her gorgeous magic wand (or stone-grinder) and reintroduced chocolate so simply, so singularly, it made that magical leap from candy into the territory of food.  She’s happy to talk to your kiddos about how a bean became a bar, complete with illustrative cocoa pods and stone grinders for kids to touch as they taste.

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That’s right, food.  Put it in chili sauce.  Use it as a spice rub.  Think you know chocolate?  Wait. She’ll teach you and your kids ways to use chocolate that you never thought of before (think less fudge, more flank steak).

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Granted, they may not be chili sauce ready yet, but even Julia Child started somewhere.  Let the tastings begin.  Where to begin?  Right here.

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With a  chocolate waterfall.  (Augustus Gloops be warned.)   At Chocovivo (brick and mortar finally up and running in Culver City) kids are invited to peer through a 1.5ft tall Oompa Loompa window and watch the chocolate pour out of the grinder.  Kids become white knuckled with anticipation once they hear about it…an actual avalanche of chocolate.  The dream is real, people.   Real, rustic, bean to bar, 100% organic, no milk, no soy fillers, all vegan, and gluten free.  It is glorious.  It is chocolate.  Just don’t call it candy.

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Because it isn’t. It really isn’t candy.  Chocolate has no sugar, not when it’s bean to bar.  Say it with us.  This chocolate has no sugar.

Kids are welcome, more than welcome, but this chocolate isn’t childsplay.  It’s the result of research, grower relationships, and the banishment of soy lecithin and other infamous impurities.  No milk chocolate here, just the dark stuff.  The one you hear all the good things about.  Told you; it’s health food.

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The unfussy sophistication of this place manages that magical merging of educating, satiating, and completely kid accommodating.  So your seven year old is not quite Napa ready?  Great.  Here’s a phenomenal starter to refine their prospering palate, one blended bar at a time.

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They offer up chocolate tastings here, available by the square, 3 squares for $3, or 6 for $5.  There’s a tasting menu – as practical as it is precious. They check their preferences from a list and are then presented with their own personalized plate of chocolate squares.  They sit, they savor, they’re still sitting.  Our favorite?  The cherries, almonds, and black peppercorns.  But the almonds and sea salt?  It downright blows the kids hair back.  And the Shangri-La, with those sweet bits of goji berries is always a crowd pleaser. Short on play date ideas?  Get ready to be the world’s most popular mom.  For $3.

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Yup, this is the place that used to be on Abbot Kinney in Venice.  But we like it here much better, and so do they.  Parking’s a cinch (ample meters on Washington and tons of free residential spots on surrounding streets) and there’s none of that off-Main mania.  And let’s face it.  Nobody needs to be rushed when they’re sipping a Hot Coffee + Vanilla Bean melt-in from The Chocolate Drink Bar.  You choose the style (sipping, hot, or iced), the base (organic milk, nut milk, or water) and the melt-in (we won’t tantalize you with the options).  But trust us.  Sipping is believing. RedTriChocovivo4

It’s a rare thing,to leave a café, sated by chocolate, feeling better, brighter, and unequivocally more benevolent for the experience.  The first bean-to-bar chocolate factory has arrived in Los Angeles, and it’s got our kids slowing down, savoring even, and musing preferences; pure bars vs. limited edition blend, iced vs. hot, almond vs. hazelnut (it’s hazelnut by a hair).  Sorry Charlie.  Turns out Patricia Tsai had the golden ticket all along.RedTriChocovivo6

Chocovivo
12469 Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90044
Phone: (310) 845-6259
Online: chocovivo.com

What’s your favorite decadent chocolate spot in town?  (And can you bring the kids, like you can here?)

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Written and photographed by Jolie Loeb