It's starting to feel a lot like time for chocolate. As the weather gets chilly and the holidays are just around the corner, there's nothing like sipping a warm cup of hot chocolate, savoring a tasty brownie, or just nibbling on a truffle. Fortunately, there are options.
While you can always get a top-notch custom gift box at See's or order a hot chocolate dessert at Ghiradelli, there are dozens more unique and local chocolatiers throughout the Bay Area. Many of them handcraft their chocolate on site or source their organic and fair trade beans from a variety of places. Check out some of these chocolate shops. And let us know if we missed your favorite.
- Dandelion Chocolate: Founded in 2010, the company makes their small-batch chocolate from scratch from beans sourced from South America and Africa. Their factory and cafe in the Mission offers tours and classes, including workshops for kids. Or visit the kiosk in the Ferry Building.
- Hooker's Sweet Treats: Hooker's doesn't just make chocolate treats-- in addition to the original salted caramels (and the variety of caramel chocolate flavors), you should also try their famous bread pudding and some of the city's best cookies. Visit the small shop in the Tenderloin to see what's fresh and pick up a small-batch present.
- Chocolate Covered: This quirky little shop in Noe Valley may not seem like much from the outside, but inside it has one of the widest selections of chocolates -- local and from around the world. There are countless boxes to pick from or have a custom box made. The signature tins come with pictures of San Francisco on them.
- Recchiuti: When he and his wife founded the confectionary, Michael Recchiuti's goal was to bring his handmade chocolate treats to San Francisco. Now, there are two locations: an outpost in the Ferry Building and a larger shop and cafe in the Dogpatch. Try the Rocky Recchiuti Brownies or the seasonal champagne truffles, or order one of the beautiful gift boxes.
- Charles Chocolates: Head to the chocolate factory in the Mission to pick out individual chocolate truffles or try one of their new creations, like the "Don't Make Me Snicker" bar. Buy a gift box for a friend. Tours are offered to small groups and Sunday afternoon tea is a popular weekly attraction.
- TCHO: TCHO makes gluten-free chocolate out of its Berkeley headquarters -- though it has retail locations in San Francisco. (It also has organic products and its dark chocolate is vegan.) The fair trade chocolatier is known for its attractive gift boxes and unique arrangements.
- Michael Mischer Chocolates: This boutique specializes in chocolates filled with edibles like salted caramel, Irish whiskey, or baked apple. The designer chocolate bars aren't bad either. Order online or sit in the cafe on Grand Avenue in Oakland and drink a hot chocolate while you're there.
- The Oakland Chocolate Company: Made with cocoa beans from Jamaica, the Oakland Chocolate Company's chocolates are made each Monday in small batches. There are new truffle flavors each month. Or just sign for the Chocolate of the Month Club.
- Casa de Chocolates: Focused on Latin American chocolates and desserts, Berkeley-based Casa de Chocolates makes everything from flan to Mexican wedding cookies. The chocolates are spiced with flavors like chile, chopped pistachios, and candied ginger.
- Barlovento Chocolates: Started with ingredients from the farmers market, Barlovento has come full circle selling primarily at farmers markets around the Bay Area, with a kitchen in Jack London Square. The cocoa is sourced from Venezuela. Try the mint truffles or the salted caramels.
- Dolce Bella Chocolates & Cafe: Not just a chocolate shop, Dolce Bella is also a cafe, where you can enjoy a chili hot chocolate or coffee. (There's also a weekly dinner, soup, and salad menu.) If you order a chocolate box online, it's made fresh to order and can be shipped as gifts.
- Mariette Chocolates: In the historic Willow Glen neighborhood, Mariette specializes in exotic chocolate covered fruits and other treats. Pick and choose from hundreds of varieties in the cute and packed shop.
- Chocolate Dream Box: Tucked in a strip mall in Los Gatos, Chocolate Dream Box makes European-syle chocolates in artistic gift boxes. Find all kinds of holiday-themed chocolates in assorted festive shapes, made with ingredients from around the world. This is the place for tasty and fun gifts for everyone you know.