Los Angeles is often compared with New York City, probably because we have such similar weather patterns and attitudes about time. But beyond the surface similarities, one category in which L.A. definitely parallels NYC is chocolate.
Prone to experimentation, the food community in L.A. has attracted chocolatiers and pastry chefs who love chocolate enough not to take it too seriously – with impressive results.
A yes, I know the difference between chocolate and confection is important (shout-out to all the chocolate purists among us!). The more sugar, butter, flour, or other flavoring components added to your chocolate, the less it looks and tastes like a bittersweet agent of brain health and more like cake.
But cake is still super good. So in tribute to everything from pure chocolate to confections that depend on chocolate to be what they are, I give you 12 of the best chocolate destinations in Los Angeles that you absolutely have to try.
List starts after the jump!
ChocoVivo in Culver City is one of only three bean-to-bar manufacturers in L.A. – that is, chocolatiers who process their own cocoa beans. At ChocoVivo, every step of the chocolate making process is done on site. If you like the rustic texture of stone ground chocolate and the good feels of buying local, ChocoVivo is for you. And don’t miss their range of hot chocolate options, scaling from 100% chocolate – not for the faint of heart – to more traditional dark chocolate with vanilla or cinnamon added.
12469 Washington Blvd, Culver City 90066
With award-winning Hollywood art director Ed Engoron at the helm, the emphasis is on authentic American flavors. Choclatique offers over 200 chocolates in all varieties of dark, milk and white – with names like All American Apple Pie, Hot Fudge Sundae, and Margarita. They don’t have a storefront, but you can shop online using a super fun box-building tool and pick up your chocolates in person or have them delivered.
11030 Santa Monica Blvd, Culver City, 90025
Tifa Chocolate & Gelato
Thick “drinking” chocolate, handmade bonbons in an assortment of daring flavors (bleu cheese and honey, anyone?), and super-fresh gelato are the hallmarks of Tifa, a joint venture of brother and sister team Shawn and Candace Orr. In Agoura Hills, Tifa is a little outside the usual LA commute, but well worth a few extra minutes’ drive for the sheer volume of culinary delights.
28888 Roadside Drive, Agoura Hills 91301
Diane Kron brings a Hungarian family tradition to the US with crisp rice chocolate bears and rum truffles. With shops in New York and Malibu as well as Beverly Hills, K Chocolatier has wowed the taste buds of such famous folk as Jackie Kennedy, Katharine Hepburn and Andy Warhol. Diane’s son David left his law career to take over the family business from his dad, and has been helming the chocolate ship since 2010. Drop by and take advantage of the samples they are sure to offer! It’s a generous place.
9606 Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills 90210
Coffee is a cherished gift at Amara (pronounced uh-MAR-uh), but the clear star of this show is Venezuelan chocolate. From fresh churros drizzled with streams from the chocolate fountain, to spicy hot chocolate, to a variety of chocolate-covered ganaches shaped like delicate marbles, it’s tough to know where to begin. Amara prides itself on whole ingredients (nothing artificial, no vegetable oil) and if the friendly and attentive staff is any indication, this chocolate promotes good manners as well as good health.
55 South Raymond Ave, Pasadena 91105
Beverly Hills Brownie Company
Sooo many brownies! 26 varieties, to be precise – ranging from your deluxe chocolate-frosted chocolate brownie to red velvet, to cheesecake, to blondies (which are mostly irrelevant to this discussion). The brownies are big – basically smallish cakes – each with four edges and a soft center. All the best parts of the brownie pan in one serving.
315 N Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills 90210
Valerie’s rustic toffee is the founding flavor that exploded this husband-wife entrepreneurial endeavor into a full-fledged set of LA eateries, culminating in three locations bearing the Valerie name. The Silver Lake confectionery still pumps out the original chocolate-covered toffees in six flavors, with the addition of petit fours, chocolate truffles, and even a cookbook divulging Valerie’s sweetest secrets.
3360 W First Street, Los Angeles 90004
The popular cupcakery is now a chain of confection heavens spanning seven US states, thanks to Oprah’s favorite things list, but the whole shebang originated right here in the hills of Beverly. With quality ingredients that include Belgian bittersweet chocolate and French sprinkles, the level of cupcake is elevated and refined to a kind of edible art. Which also happens to be delicious. There is even a cupcake ATM, which I’m told serves a line of 2am cupcake cravings stretched down the block.
9635 S Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills 90210
735 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles 90017
The Swiss chocolatier with locations around the world is pronounced “to-share” – and it only seems right that we do. The shop itself is a thing of beauty, with cases of chocolate confections lining the front and a bevy of flowers hanging from the ceiling. Make sure and leave room for Teuscher’s signature Champagne Truffle – a two-bite confection with an elongated top and dusted with powdered sugar. Sweet and pretty.
9548 Brighton Way, Beverly Hills 90210
A landmark in Beverly Hills, Edelweiss is known for its vintage equipment, much of which dates back to 1942 when the shop first opened. Their enrobing machine, which is still in use, famously inspired the chocolate-making conveyer belt fiasco in I Love Lucy. The hallmark of Edelweiss is their marshmallows, which are handmade and dipped in six different chocolate combinations.
444 N Canon Drive, Beverly Hills 90210
L’Artisan du Chocolat
L’Artisan du Chocolat mixes classic French sensibilities with a twist of the avant-garde, yielding such unique combinations as Cucumber Vodka Dark Chocolate (which is a very popular – and strikingly refreshing – flavor, available on a seasonal basis). They also mix up the more traditional hazelnut or caramel confections, but make sure and ask for the Kalamata Olives. They don’t make them anymore, and I’m trying to create a demand.
3364 W First Street, Los Angeles 90004
John Kelly Chocolates
Take a square of fudge, wrap it in Callebaut chocolate, dust a little sea salt on top, and you have a perfect John Kelly Chocolate. With a case full of tempting treats, shelves lined with pre-packed boxes, and a window into the chocolate-dipping kitchen, John Kelly is a sophisticated reboot of the neighborhood candy shop that envelops you from the moment you walk inside.
1508 N Sierra Bonita Ave, Hollywood 90046
1111 ½ Montana Ave, Santa Monica 90403
L.A. chocolate is becoming a thing, and the range of options is as diverse as the city itself. So whether you are heading out to surf, commuting over the hill, or looking for a place to work on your screenplay, make room in your day for chocolate!
A word about Cortney:
Cortney Matz blogs regularly at TheChocolateTourist.tv, a website and video series devoted to travel, chocolate, and the thrill of the unknown. Don’t miss the debut of The Chocolate Tourist web series, coming to an internet near you!