Arts

Raising the (chocolate) bar: 10 Peninsula spots to satisfy your hot cocoa cravings

Hot chocolate isn’t just for kids. Here’s our guide to Peninsula restaurants and shops that elevate the drink.

The 64% Satilia sipping dark chocolate topped with a housemade marshmallow from Timothy Adams in Palo Alto on Dec. 8, 2022. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

When it gets truly cold outside (by California standards anyway), there's a reason that the hot drink many people of all ages reach for remains the tried-and-true humble mug of hot cocoa. It's the quintessence of cozy: warm, creamy and revitalizing. And while many cafes and restaurants tend to treat hot chocolate as a kids-menu afterthought, we think our readers deserve better this holiday season. So we scoured the Peninsula to find the best hot chocolate – and European drinking chocolate – offerings around. We've got both boozy and alcohol-free options, some for drinking out and others for making at home, and even a best-served-cold option or two. Here's your classy cocoa guide:

Bird Dog, Palo Alto

Palo Alto's Bird Dog offers both no-buzz and boozy hot chocolate kit options for gifting (or keeping – we won't judge). The tradition started in 2020 during the pandemic, when the restaurant offered weekly takeout bundles, according to co-owner Emily Perry Winston. "The team loved them so much we continue to bring them back," she says. "They actually bring back lovely memories because even though it was a challenging time, our small team truly bonded then since it was only us in the space (without guests) for months." The hot chocolate kits come with Tcho chocolate and made-to-order marshmallows; the boozy option also comes with bourbon.

Bird Dog, 420 Ramona St., Palo Alto; 650-656-8180, [birddogpa.com. Instagram: @birddogpaloalto.

Après Village, East Palo Alto

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Skip the Tahoe traffic and get your European winter lodge vibes a bit closer to home at the Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley at East Palo Alto’s seasonal Après Village.

The hot chocolate from the Four Seasons Après Village in East Palo Alto is made with a secret recipe, plus Tullamore Dew whiskey, green Chartreuse and vanilla or cherry whipped cream. Courtesy Four Seasons Hotel, Silicon Valley.

The menu includes boozy hot cocoa made with a secret recipe, plus Tullamore Dew whiskey, green Chartreuse and vanilla or cherry whipped cream. Reservations required.

Après Village, Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley, 2050 University Ave., East Palo Alto; 650-566-1200,fourseasons.com. Instagram: @fourseasons/.

Coupa Cafe, multiple locations

The spicy Maya hot chocolate at Coupa Cafe has warm cinnamon notes, plus a touch of cayenne and pasilla chile. They also offer a "deluxious" hot chocolate, made from melting down dark chocolate and combining it with "just enough" milk to make it a rich drinking chocolate. The first Coupa Cafe, offering Venezuelan-style coffee and chocolates, came to Palo Alto's Ramona Street via Jean Paul Coupal and Nancy Farid-Coupal in 2004.

Coupa Cafe, multiple locations in Stanford, Palo Alto, Redwood City and Los Altos; 650-322-6872, coupacafe.com. Instagram: @coupacafe.

The hot chocolate from SWEET55 in Half Moon Bay is frothy, sweet and a perfect way to warm up on a rainy day. Photo by Kate Bradshaw.

SWEET55, Half Moon Bay and Palo Alto

This hot chocolate is lighter and frothier than some of the other options we sampled, but with each sip still infused with a rich chocolate flavor – the perfect way to warm up on a rainy day. The retailer also offers tins of hot chocolate mix to make at home. Owner Ursula Schnyder says the cool coastal climate of Half Moon Bay is ideal for working with chocolate; this year she also opened a shop at Palo Alto's Town & Country Village to serve more customers.

SWEET55, Half Moon Bay and Palo Alto locations; 650-618-6525, sweet55.com. Instagram: @sweet55swiss.

Saffron, Burlingame and San Carlos

This drink isn't hot, but it does offer a sophisticated hint of chocolate. The seasonal Rasa cocktail by Delhi-born chef and restaurateur, Ajay Walia, is made with ghee-infused bourbon, Alessio, Cynar, orgeat, mint and chocolate bitters. The ingredients lend it dark chocolate, cinnamon and spice flavors, with a hint of bitterness and a note of cacao, according to spokesperson Makenna Lepowsky.

Saffron, Burlingame and San Carlos locations; 650-910-6351, thesaffronrestaurant.com. Instagram: @saffron_restaurants.

Shekoh Confections, Palo Alto

Shekoh Moossavi of Shekoh Chocolates in Palo Alto says a copper vessel is expected to arrive any day so that she can begin to offer drinking chocolate next week. Moossavi trained at l'École Valrhona and brings a palette of global flavors from her time spent in countries around the world to her chocolate craft.

Shekoh Confections, 2305 El Camino Real B, Palo Alto; 650-384-6322, shekohconfections.com. Instagram: @shekohconfections.

Timothy Adams, Palo Alto

The European sipping chocolate available at Timothy Adams stood out for its quality and options. The team infuses 110 grams of specialized chocolate into whole milk or almond milk at a variety of richness levels, from 30% to 100%. You can also add whipped cream and spices, or make it a mocha or milkshake. It comes with a complimentary marshmallow.

According to co-owner Adams Holland, the 100% cacao sipping chocolate is difficult to drink hot, but ideal for turning into a milkshake and blending with ice cream. A serving of the 64% dark sipping chocolate was so rich it entirely halted my usual chocolate cravings for a whole 48 hours afterward. My colleague Magali, who sampled the 35% sipping chocolate, and I agreed that the beverages made our throats feel like the chocolate-coated pipes that suction up the character Augustus Gloop from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” – but in a very good way.

Timothy Adams Chocolates, 539 Bryant St., Palo Alto; 415-755-8923, timothyadamschocolates.com. Instagram: @timothyadamschocolates.

The hot chocolate from ZombieRunner, is made with Tcho chocolate. Photo by Kate Bradshaw.

ZombieRunner, Mountain View and Palo Alto

Known more for its coffee and espresso drinks, I figured this would be a good spot to try out given the high-quality chocolate sold on this shop's retail shelves, and the hot chocolate did not disappoint. Made with Tcho chocolate, it was rich, sweet and frothy.

ZombieRunner, locations in Mountain View and Palo Alto; 650-325-2048, zombierunner.com. Instagram: @zombierunner.

Lula's Chocolates, Santa Clara

This chocolatier offers sipping chocolate kits with chocolate flakes and marshmallows for making at home. Formerly Mrs. Lund's, the operation rebranded in 2006 and moved from Salt Lake City to Monterey, where they have a factory available for tours now. An added bonus: Santa Clara visitors are offered samples upon entry.

Lula's Chocolates, 2712 Augustine Drive #140, Santa Clara; 669-292-5353, lulaschocolates.com. Instagram: @lulaschocolates.

Snake & Butterfly, Campbell

Campbell's Snake & Butterfly is an organic chocolatier that sells bars for making hot chocolate at home. You'll have to provide the milk (or half and half, as the recipe suggests) and the suggested extras, which include whipped cream, Bailey's, orange peel, marshmallows, peppermint and Amaretto.

Snake & Butterfly, 191 East Campbell Ave., Campbell; 408-508-4788, snakeandbutterfly.com. Instagram: @snakeandbutterfly.

Dig into food news. Follow the Peninsula Foodist on Instagram @peninsulafoodist and subscribe to the newsletter at almanacnews.com/express/foodist to get insights on the latest openings and closings, learn what the Foodist is excited about eating, read exclusive interviews and keep up on the trends affecting local restaurants.

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Kate Bradshaw
   
Kate Bradshaw reports food news and feature stories all over the Peninsula, from south of San Francisco to north of San José. Since she began working with Embarcadero Media in 2015, she's reported on everything from Menlo Park's City Hall politics to Mountain View's education system. She has won awards from the California News Publishers Association for her coverage of local government, elections and land use reporting. Read more >>

Follow Mountain View Voice Online on Twitter @mvvoice, Facebook and on Instagram @mvvoice for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Raising the (chocolate) bar: 10 Peninsula spots to satisfy your hot cocoa cravings

Hot chocolate isn’t just for kids. Here’s our guide to Peninsula restaurants and shops that elevate the drink.

by / TheSixFifty.com

Uploaded: Thu, Dec 15, 2022, 1:29 pm

When it gets truly cold outside (by California standards anyway), there's a reason that the hot drink many people of all ages reach for remains the tried-and-true humble mug of hot cocoa. It's the quintessence of cozy: warm, creamy and revitalizing. And while many cafes and restaurants tend to treat hot chocolate as a kids-menu afterthought, we think our readers deserve better this holiday season. So we scoured the Peninsula to find the best hot chocolate – and European drinking chocolate – offerings around. We've got both boozy and alcohol-free options, some for drinking out and others for making at home, and even a best-served-cold option or two. Here's your classy cocoa guide:

Bird Dog, Palo Alto

Palo Alto's Bird Dog offers both no-buzz and boozy hot chocolate kit options for gifting (or keeping – we won't judge). The tradition started in 2020 during the pandemic, when the restaurant offered weekly takeout bundles, according to co-owner Emily Perry Winston. "The team loved them so much we continue to bring them back," she says. "They actually bring back lovely memories because even though it was a challenging time, our small team truly bonded then since it was only us in the space (without guests) for months." The hot chocolate kits come with Tcho chocolate and made-to-order marshmallows; the boozy option also comes with bourbon.

Bird Dog, 420 Ramona St., Palo Alto; 650-656-8180, [birddogpa.com. Instagram: @birddogpaloalto.

Après Village, East Palo Alto

Skip the Tahoe traffic and get your European winter lodge vibes a bit closer to home at the Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley at East Palo Alto’s seasonal Après Village.

The menu includes boozy hot cocoa made with a secret recipe, plus Tullamore Dew whiskey, green Chartreuse and vanilla or cherry whipped cream. Reservations required.

Après Village, Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley, 2050 University Ave., East Palo Alto; 650-566-1200,fourseasons.com. Instagram: @fourseasons/.

Coupa Cafe, multiple locations

The spicy Maya hot chocolate at Coupa Cafe has warm cinnamon notes, plus a touch of cayenne and pasilla chile. They also offer a "deluxious" hot chocolate, made from melting down dark chocolate and combining it with "just enough" milk to make it a rich drinking chocolate. The first Coupa Cafe, offering Venezuelan-style coffee and chocolates, came to Palo Alto's Ramona Street via Jean Paul Coupal and Nancy Farid-Coupal in 2004.

Coupa Cafe, multiple locations in Stanford, Palo Alto, Redwood City and Los Altos; 650-322-6872, coupacafe.com. Instagram: @coupacafe.

SWEET55, Half Moon Bay and Palo Alto

This hot chocolate is lighter and frothier than some of the other options we sampled, but with each sip still infused with a rich chocolate flavor – the perfect way to warm up on a rainy day. The retailer also offers tins of hot chocolate mix to make at home. Owner Ursula Schnyder says the cool coastal climate of Half Moon Bay is ideal for working with chocolate; this year she also opened a shop at Palo Alto's Town & Country Village to serve more customers.

SWEET55, Half Moon Bay and Palo Alto locations; 650-618-6525, sweet55.com. Instagram: @sweet55swiss.

Saffron, Burlingame and San Carlos

This drink isn't hot, but it does offer a sophisticated hint of chocolate. The seasonal Rasa cocktail by Delhi-born chef and restaurateur, Ajay Walia, is made with ghee-infused bourbon, Alessio, Cynar, orgeat, mint and chocolate bitters. The ingredients lend it dark chocolate, cinnamon and spice flavors, with a hint of bitterness and a note of cacao, according to spokesperson Makenna Lepowsky.

Saffron, Burlingame and San Carlos locations; 650-910-6351, thesaffronrestaurant.com. Instagram: @saffron_restaurants.

Shekoh Confections, Palo Alto

Shekoh Moossavi of Shekoh Chocolates in Palo Alto says a copper vessel is expected to arrive any day so that she can begin to offer drinking chocolate next week. Moossavi trained at l'École Valrhona and brings a palette of global flavors from her time spent in countries around the world to her chocolate craft.

Shekoh Confections, 2305 El Camino Real B, Palo Alto; 650-384-6322, shekohconfections.com. Instagram: @shekohconfections.

Timothy Adams, Palo Alto

The European sipping chocolate available at Timothy Adams stood out for its quality and options. The team infuses 110 grams of specialized chocolate into whole milk or almond milk at a variety of richness levels, from 30% to 100%. You can also add whipped cream and spices, or make it a mocha or milkshake. It comes with a complimentary marshmallow.

According to co-owner Adams Holland, the 100% cacao sipping chocolate is difficult to drink hot, but ideal for turning into a milkshake and blending with ice cream. A serving of the 64% dark sipping chocolate was so rich it entirely halted my usual chocolate cravings for a whole 48 hours afterward. My colleague Magali, who sampled the 35% sipping chocolate, and I agreed that the beverages made our throats feel like the chocolate-coated pipes that suction up the character Augustus Gloop from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” – but in a very good way.

Timothy Adams Chocolates, 539 Bryant St., Palo Alto; 415-755-8923, timothyadamschocolates.com. Instagram: @timothyadamschocolates.

ZombieRunner, Mountain View and Palo Alto

Known more for its coffee and espresso drinks, I figured this would be a good spot to try out given the high-quality chocolate sold on this shop's retail shelves, and the hot chocolate did not disappoint. Made with Tcho chocolate, it was rich, sweet and frothy.

ZombieRunner, locations in Mountain View and Palo Alto; 650-325-2048, zombierunner.com. Instagram: @zombierunner.

Lula's Chocolates, Santa Clara

This chocolatier offers sipping chocolate kits with chocolate flakes and marshmallows for making at home. Formerly Mrs. Lund's, the operation rebranded in 2006 and moved from Salt Lake City to Monterey, where they have a factory available for tours now. An added bonus: Santa Clara visitors are offered samples upon entry.

Lula's Chocolates, 2712 Augustine Drive #140, Santa Clara; 669-292-5353, lulaschocolates.com. Instagram: @lulaschocolates.

Snake & Butterfly, Campbell

Campbell's Snake & Butterfly is an organic chocolatier that sells bars for making hot chocolate at home. You'll have to provide the milk (or half and half, as the recipe suggests) and the suggested extras, which include whipped cream, Bailey's, orange peel, marshmallows, peppermint and Amaretto.

Snake & Butterfly, 191 East Campbell Ave., Campbell; 408-508-4788, snakeandbutterfly.com. Instagram: @snakeandbutterfly.

Dig into food news. Follow the Peninsula Foodist on Instagram @peninsulafoodist and subscribe to the newsletter at almanacnews.com/express/foodist to get insights on the latest openings and closings, learn what the Foodist is excited about eating, read exclusive interviews and keep up on the trends affecting local restaurants.

Comments

Bernie Brightman
Registered user
Whisman Station
on Dec 16, 2022 at 8:44 am
Bernie Brightman, Whisman Station
Registered user
on Dec 16, 2022 at 8:44 am

Which ones are non-dairy?


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