Hot chocolate falls into the same category as pizza and sex—“When it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.” The best thing you can do to chocolate is warm it up a little, yielding the perfect cure for a chilly day. Though we’ve been experiencing an unusually warm winter this year, temperatures have lately been dipping below 60 F. Get cozy this weekend and stay warm with a mug or two of hot chocolate. Here are some of our favorite cups in L.A.
DEMITASSE | Not only is this cup of hot cocoa thick with dark chocolate, but the barista will offer to top your drink with a house-made marshmallow. Watch as they pull out their blowtorch to toast it while they heat up your milk of choice. The caramelized edges bring out the bitter notes in the chocolate, and keep the drink from being too cloying. ➤ 135 S. San Pedro St., Little Tokyo, 213-613-9300; 1149 3rd St. #100, Santa Monica, 310-260-6308 or cafedemitasse.com.
CACAO MEXICATESSEN | There’s plenty to love at this Eagle Rock staple, including their newish selection of wine, but we’re forever going to be fans of their hot cocoa. Served in an earthenware mug, this creamy cup combines chocolate made from Oaxacan cacao, raw sugar, Mexican cinnamon, vanilla, and your choice of milk. After steaming it until it’s thick and frothy, your barista will sprinkle toasted almonds on top. ➤ 11576 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock, 323-478-2791 or cacaodeli.com.
CHOCOVIVO | L.A.’s own artisanal chocolate shop has a new cafe on Washington in Culver City. There, experience owner and chocolatier Patricia Tsai’s many molten chocolate concoctions. She makes a ritual out of hot cocoa, much as the Aztec’s once did, opting to blend her stone ground chocolate with water instead of milk. It’s surprisingly decadent and available hot, frozen, or to-go. ➤ 12469 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066 (310) 845-6259 or chocovivo.com.
AMARA | This chocolateria specializes in Venezuelan hot chocolate. Yes, there are Madrid-style churros for dipping and flaky empanadas for lunching, but the real stars at this shop are the deeply hued mugs of sipping chocolate. Pick from a milk or bittersweet chocolate base. We also like ours with toasted marshmallows on top. Need an extra jolt? The mocha here is also delicious. ➤ 55 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, 626-744-1765 or amarachocolate.com.
ANTEQUERA DE OAXACA | Hollywood’s neighborhood Oaxacan joint does more than mole and tamales. Finish your meal (or start it?) with a cup of Antequera’s creamy Oaxacan hot chocolate. It’s lighter than most, but full of warm spice and just the thing on a cold winter’s night. Want a cup that’s rooted in tradition? Check out the one they make at Gish Bac—it’s just chocolate and water, thick as honey, and full of spice and vanilla. ➤ 5200 Melrose Ave., Larchmont, 323-466-1101.
VOSGES | Though we’re not necessarily fans of the boxed chocolates from this Chicago-based purveyor, their Beverly Hills’s shop serves up a fine menu of hot cocoas. Pick from the Parisienne (with vanilla), Aztec (with chile), or Bianca (white chocolate) and they’ll steam up a dainty cup while you wait. The cocoa blends are also available boxed individually or as part of a gift set. ➤ 11576 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock, 323-478-2791 or cacaodeli.com.