The International Chocolate Salon draws big crowds to Fort Mason, but there are plenty of options for handmade sweets at Bay Area chocolate shops throughout the year.
Here are nine of our favorite chocolate shops:
This self-described “chocolate boutique” in Noe Valley sells a bevy of bars sourced locally and from around the world.
Stop into this working chocolate factory any time to pick up a few bars, baking discs (they’re like chocolate chips but larger and flatter) or snag some free samples. Daily guided tours are held at 10:30am or 2pm, starting at the factory and culminating with a tasting lesson.
An eco-conscious chocolate shop and café just south of Market Street offers a lineup of Belgium chocolate bars. The bars rely mainly on agave fiber and fruit extracts for sweetness. Expect thyme, lavender and quinoa flaxseed bars in addition to more standard flavors. Most bars are available for sampling. The café also serves sandwiches, salads and baked goods.
CocoaBella’s array of lush bonbons come from exemplary chocolatiers in Europe and North America. The assortment changes often but may include rosemary caramels from local Christopher Elbow, cherry marzipan from Maglio in Italy, and earthy Blue Cheese truffles made by Oregon’s Lillie Belle using Rogue Creamery’s acclaimed Smoky Blue. CocoaBella has two locations in San Francisco, one in Cow Hollow and the other in the Westfield Mall.
After starting in Zurich, Switzerland more than 70 years ago, there are now Teuscher outposts around the world. Stop by the teensy shop near Union Square to take a break from shopping and refuel with a champagne or kirsch truffle.
Bonbons, chocolate-covered marshmallows and pates de fruit wink from beneath sparkling glass at Recchiuti Confections in the Ferry Building. Chocolatier Michael Recchiuti uses a variety of spices as well as farmer’s market produce like lavender and lemon verbena to create infusions for his truffles. Recchiuti also produces some of the best dessert sauces around, such as pure and viscous chocolate fudge and smoky burnt caramel.
No list of San Francisco chocolate shops is complete without this San Francisco original. Tourists cram the shops at Ghirardelli Square for a sundae drenched in the company’s signature hot fudge or to take home a bag of the company’s famoused wrapped chocolate squares. For those looking to avoid the tourist crush, Ghirardelli chocolate shops downtown offer a slightly more sane, but often just as crowded, option.
This Berkeley hub for chocolate brings a Latin American twist to the table. Owner and chocolatier Arcelia Gallardo and co-owner Amelia Gonzalez source their chocolate from all over Latin America. They also make fantastic cupcakes, coconut macaroons and Mexican frozen hot chocolate.
Schoggie imports all its chocolates from Bern, Switzerland. Specialties include dates filled with marzipan or ganache, liquid caramel truffles and leckerli, traditional Bernese candy made of honey, candied orange peel, hazelnuts and kirsch. Located just off Market Street, the shop offers indoor and outdoor seating, which makes this a lovely spot for teatime.
Fog City News has a knowledgable staff eager to answer questions or provide suggestions before you settle on one of the chocolate bars from its extensive collection. And as the name of the store suggests, this is also a newsstand where you can pick up the ideal reading companion to accompany a Trinidadian 64 percent.