12 Hot Cocoa Spots that Reinvent the Classic Drink
Baby, it’s cold outside! Ok, it’s a little chilly. But when those temps dip into the 60’s here in L.A. we all begin to feel a bit wintery, bathing suits and beaches seem ages away, and the time is right to indulge in some comforting, warming sweets. And everyone in the family can agree that hot chocolate is the perfect winter treat. What they can’t agree on is how to fix it – sweet and milky, deep and dark, with mallows or whipped cream, flavored or plain, or even spicy. For a warm weather town, we have an extraordinary love of the stuff, as evidenced by the plethora of places that make some of the best hot chocolate you could find anywhere. What are you waiting for? Get out there and start tasting, because we’ll be back to fro-yo and ice blendeds before you know it.
This chocolate store in the heart of Beverly Hills is divine. A purple Moroccan gem of a store, there are exotic chocolates (wasabi, curry and balsamic vinegar are just some of the additions to the chocolate bars) for tasting everywhere, but today we’re talking hot chocolate. And this hot is haute! Luckily, there are three flavors of drinking chocolate – the Parisienne is a vanilla scented plain chocolate that will appeal to kids, while you may venture into the realm of Aztec (chile and cinnamon) or Blanco (white with lemon myrtle and lavender).
What to get with your drink: The chocolate chip cookie. It’s the size of a baby’s head, and may be the best cookie you’ll ever eat.
311 N Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, Ca
This spot is the dictionary definition of kid-friendly coffee shop. With a corner for kiddos and drinks designed just for them (Pink Princess Potion and Mint Chocolate Dinosaurs, just to name a few), they will play and sip happily, while you get your divine hot chocolate plain, spiced or mocha’d.
What to get with your drink: The gluten-free cookies are to die(t) for!
2160 Colorado Boulevard
Eagle Rock, Ca
Perhaps everyone’s favorite architecture themed ice cream sandwich shop isn’t your first thought for where to find fabulous hot chocolate. And if it isn’t, you’ll be missing some incredible concoctions. The plain signature one is pretty amazing, but how can you order that, when the nutella, dirty mint, chipotle and salted caramel versions all beckon so insistently?
What to get with your drink: Artisan marshmallows and whipped creams make lovely pairings, and the cookies in flavors like chocolate chunk pretzel, peanut butter captain crunch and hotcake make awesome dunkers.
8588 Washington Boulevard
Culver City, Ca
Lady Chocolatt Cafe
This little hidden gem makes hot chocolate that’s almost too rich to drink. Almost. It’s basically a melted bar of Belgian chocolate with just enough milk to make it drinkable. It’s heaven in a cup, and after tasting this your kids will never drink instant again. (We like the extra dark, but you kids prefer the regular, and you can even get it sugar free, soy, white or with spice and flowers.)
What to get with your drink: The croissants are baked fresh daily and add the perfect Parisian feel to your breakfast or afternoon treat.
12008 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, Ca
The little Tokyo favorite coffee spot also makes lavender hot chocolate, which is served with a gourmet cube of marshmallow that is torched in front of you.
What to get with your drink: They’re pretty fanatic about sourcing their pastries and cookies from the best places in town, so whatever sweet treat catches your fancy is sure to be spectacular.
135 S San Pedro Street
Los Angeles, Ca
Larchmont is certainly not lacking for sweet treats – the street is one bakery, coffee shop or ice cream place after another. But for those who love the drinkable sweet stuff, Chocoholics Anonymous drinking chocolate (in milk, dark, Mexican and white) is another example of fine chocolate melted into milk. Unbelievable.
What to get with your drink: Depends on the day of the week. If you can, try to come on a Sunday, when you can walk next door to the farmers market and get some fresh strawberries to dip in your drink to cut the sweetness. But if what you need is a cookie accompaniment, cross the street to ‘Lette Macarons.
201 N Larchmont Boulevard
Los Angeles, Ca
After a French dip at Cole’s down the street, come to Syrup for a sip of chocolate. Melted hazelnut, mint, Belgian, winter white, Aztec, even frozen – take your pick, they’re all perfect. While it seems like loads of hipsters and college kids hang out here, it’s also a great kid spot – there are board games and couches upstairs, and if you ask, they’ll do Hello Kitty foam art on your drink.
What to get with your drink: If you’re not too full from eating at Cole’s, get a waffle. They’re the genuine liege variety, and they’re delicious.
611 S Spring Street
Los Angeles, Ca
Amara Chocolates and Coffee
Amara’s sipping hot chocolate is prepared with a traditional Venezuelan recipe. You can get it straight, with a shot of Jones coffee, spicy, as a “fire and ice” treat (which means hot chocolate is poured over a scoop of ice cream – yum!) or alongside a plate of churros, to dip in this rich concoction.
What to get with your drink: The churros, every time. (Although the cheesy teke bites also make a nice salty counterpoint…)
55 S Raymond Avenue
Zona Rosa Caffe
Being just down the street from Vroman’s amazing bookstore makes for a cozy morning of books and treats with the kiddos in the winter. And Zona Rosa has a homey feel with couches upstairs just perfect for more reading while you sip the hot chocolate…They’re (justly) known for a nicely made Mexican Hot chocolate, but if your kiddos aren’t fans of the spicy, you can get their plain or blanco.
What to get with your drink: Not a lot of options here, but we like the pan dolce (from Panaderia La Fama) to accompany the Mexican chocolate.
15 S El Molino Avenue
Crepes and Grapes Cafe
The hot chocolate at this French crepe spot comes in two flavors: Bellagio (regular) and white. They are the yummy melted chocolate variety, and you’ll be quite happy sipping either. There’s a kids menu or the option to build your own crepe, which will please even the pickiest of eaters.
What to get with your drink: Crepes, of course. There are savory options to start, but you can’t really leave without ordering a flambé.
6560 Greenleaf Avenue
This is the homiest food on earth. If your home has a world class chef. So of course, they do hot chocolate perfectly – it’s creamy and rich, just like you wish mom or grandma would make. With a homemade marshmallow slowly melting on top.
What to get with your drink: Grilled cheese. There is always a “build your own” option on the menu, which appeals to kiddos and parents alike, but come in April for Grilled Cheese Month for some extraordinary gooey deliciousness. If you want something sweet, the chocolate chip cookies have a passionate following, and homesick Canadians swear by the Nanaimo bars.
1751 Ensley Avenue
Century City, Ca
The Bay area import specializes in Venezuelan food, coffee and hot chocolate. You can’t go wrong with any of those options, but since we’re primarily talking hot chocolate, it’s worth noting that it comes in two flavors – Abuela (like Grandma would make, creamy and dreamy and perfect for kids) and Spicy, which even grownups who don’t like spicy spices should really try, as the spices are well balanced for flavor, not for burning your tongue!
What to get with your drink: Arepas and empanadas, with a side of fried plantains that your kids will fight you for. Make that two sides of plantains, so you can each have your own.
419 N Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, Ca
Did we miss your favorite spot for hot chocolate? Tell us about it! Also, what’s your preferred topping? We took a vote, and toasted marshmallows win hands down around here…
– Meghan Rose
photo credit: javarepublic.com, Tiffany via travelcake.com, Kristie via myx.tv, CaroScuro via flickr