Artisanal L.A. Chocolate Is Having a Moment. Here’s Where to Find the Best Treats (to Gift or Eat)
So much cacao, so little time. Especially if you’ve got a sweet tooth for chocolate, which is popping up all over Los Angeles in sophisticated chocolate shops that make their delights on the premises in seasonal iterations. From a rainbow of bonbons in Beverly Hills to fleur de sel–flecked bars in Echo Park, here’s where to get giftable treats along with mouthfuls of self-care.
1. Next-Level Chocolate Bars at Compartes
OK, you can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can judge a chocolate bar by its wrapper if you’re looking at Compartes. You can find the brand’s high-design wrappers in shiny little boutiques all over town, including a new Hollywood flagship with a glass wall where you can watch the bars being made. Made from scratch daily by a small team of chocolatiers and chocolate artists, the bars, truffles and chocolate-dipped fruit feature fresh, natural ingredients from local farmers markets. Bestselling flavors include the California Love Pretzel Dark Chocolate Bar and the Matcha Green Tea White Chocolate Bar. And health-conscious types will appreciate the new vegan organic paleo chocolate bars with superfoods like reishi mushroom and turmeric.
Locations in Hollywood, Brentwood and Century City; compartes.com
2. Fancy Pants Bonbons at AndSons
The head chef here was head pastry chef at the Bazaar by José Andrés at the SLS Hotel, so you know you’re getting cutting-edge sweets. The signature confections are the bonbons, hand-painted chocolate shells filled with fresh market ganaches, creative flavor combinations and fruit-forward caramels—we’re talking green-swirled yellow yuzu verbena with white and dark chocolate, or blue-and-pink-striped praline with Pop Rocks. This family-run Beverly Hills shop is known for its gorgeous gift boxes, which look like Matisse by way of Venice Beach graffiti. Even stepping into the store is a treat, since Nate Berkus just renovated it with a mural and gold-leaf wall ornaments.
9548 Brighton Way, Beverly Hills; 310-276-2776 or and-sons.com
3. Rustic Cacao Confections at ChocoVivo
The emphasis here is on authentic Mexican chocolate; all its cacao is sourced from one farm in Tabasco, Mexico, so that the terroir of the chocolate is authentically Mexican. Cacao beans are de-shelled and then ground on stones like the ancient Mayans did. No soy, dairy or fillers are added, so the antioxidant properties of the chocolate stay strong. Bars of pure and blended cacao, chocolate-covered raisins and espresso beans, and even seasonal specials like chocolate-blended tortillas are on offer here.
12469 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City; 310-845-6259 or chocovivo.com
4. The Best Bark at Valerie Confections
Valerie Gordon’s gorgeous cakes and pies, as well as Instagram-ready petit fours, usually get all the attention. But her boxed chocolate truffle collections, including one with smoked paprika and hickory smoked salt, are alone worth the trip to one of her three locations. And while you are there, you’ll want to pick up a couple of her chocolate bars made in collaboration with talented and worthy locals like Edible Gardens (candied and dried rose petals in bittersweet chocolate) and Commune Design (darkened milk chocolate with dried pears, apricots, golden raisins, macadamia nuts, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds and peanuts). And don’t forget a box or two of chocolate bark for gifts.
5. Single-Source Bars from Letterpress Chocolate
This is the chocolate you want to give your foodie friends, since the owners of Letterpress painstakingly source the finest cacao they can find from Ecuador, Ghana or Peru, then carefully roast, grind and age them up to a month in small batches to create single-origin bars that are super intensely flavorful. That means, for example, the notes of star anise, cinnamon and fennel that come from beans in the Ucayali region of Peru are made into a 70 percent cacao bar that's got a rich and smoky taste.
2835 S. Robertson Blvd.; 424-240-8580 or letterpresschocolate.com
6. Fruity Delights at Milla Chocolates
Sophisticated chocolates (sleekly presented praline bars, candied dried fruit and caramelized nuts dipped in spicy blends) in a sophisticated, moody marble and textured-glass store in the sophisticated new tech hub of Los Angeles, Culver City. The dark chocolate–covered dried orange chips in a glass Weck jar is just the bittersweet gift you’ll want to gift someone at work, while the boxed set of black-sesame caramels with sea salt is what you’ll want to keep in your own desk drawer for that afternoon pick-me-up.
9414 Venice Blvd, Culver City; 310-876-1021 or millachocolates.com