It might not feel like it yet, but winter is coming. Winter in L.A. might not mean snow, mittens and fireplaces, but we’re starting to feel hints of cool breezes worthy of boots, sweaters and that most decadent of beverages, hot chocolate.
We found some next-level hot chocolate options, whether you’re looking for something that’s spicy, floral or even frozen. Here are our favorites:
Lavender Hot Chocolate at Cafe Demitasse
It doesn’t get much more inventive than this winter drink at Little Tokyo’s Cafe Demitasse. The one-of-a-kind recipe is a combination of E. Guittard Cocoa Rouge cocoa powder, Tahitian vanilla and a couple drops of lavender oil. Though the hot chocolate is a crowd-pleaser in and of itself, it’s not complete without the signature oversized marshmallow on top. Blowtorched to order and delivered to your table perfectly toasted, the sugary finish balances out the blend’s floral undertones. 135 S. San Pedro St., Little Tokyo; (213) 619-9300, cafedemitasse.com.
Italian Hot Chocolate at Spazio Caffe
If you're looking for a place that offers a variety of hot chocolate options, you’ll love Spazio Caffe. While it serves authentic Italian espresso, 35 teas and a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, we'd like to focus on the fact that its menu offers six different types of thick,100 percent Italian premium hot chocolates. Though Spazio Caffe has a few locations around town, the Montana Avenue shop offers Manuel Caffe products, an Italian brand still owned and managed by the founding family in Conegliano, Italy. Flavors include the classic milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, coconut chocolate, cinnamon-orange chocolate and, the fan favorite, hazelnut chocolate. 1511 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 899-6769, spaziocaffela.com.
Venezuelan Hot Sipping Chocolate at Amara Chocolate
This Venezuelan chocolate shop offers a range of drinks, arepas, truffles, fondues and, most important, hot chocolate that reflects a tried-and-tested home recipe originally developed in 1916. Its chocolate blend is reflected in its hot sipping chocolate menu, featuring six creations highlighting a juxtaposition of worldly spices and rich, dark cocoa. Though all varieties are worthy for sipping during L.A.'s mild winters, we’re partial to the classic Venezuelan chocolate. A mug of the stuff comes topped with toasted marshmallows, but this is not the hot chocolate of your childhood. 55 S Raymond Ave., Pasadena; (626) 744-1765, amarachocolate.com.
Frozen Hot Chocolate at ChocoVivo
ChocoVivo's basic frozen hot chocolate is anything but basic — although it's been known to sway pumpkin spice latte drinkers. The milk, ice cream and a 65 percent cacao chocolate come together to make a milkshake-like delicacy perfect for winter in L.A. This Culver City cafe also offers a hot chocolate bar, where chocolate enthusiasts can customize their chocolate drink according to a three-step process, choosing from various styles, bases and chocolates. This process offers diet restriction–friendly options, as well as four basic types of hot chocolate: sipping chocolate, hot chocolate, iced hot chocolate and the frozen hot chocolate. 12469 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City; (310) 845-6259, chocovivo.com.
Oaxacan Chocolate de Leche at Guelaguetza
Guelaguetza is one of the most authentic Oaxacan restaurants in L.A. — and with hot chocolate like this, you might just want to be adopted into the owners’ family. Guelaguetza is a watering hole for L.A.'s Oaxacan community, and anyone who isn’t already a fan of this style of Mexican cuisine will be after that first visit. The restaurant offers two types of traditional hot chocolates: chocolate de agua and chocolate de leche, one made with water and the other with milk. We personally like our hot chocolate rich and creamy, so we’re fans of the milk-prepared option. Guelaguetza sells the imported-from-Mexico mix online and in the boutique market on site, so you can bring this wintery treat home with you. 3014 W. Olympic Blvd., Koreatown; (213) 427-0608, ilovemole.com.
Classic Belgian Hot Chocolate at Lady Chocolatt
There’s no place in L.A. that does Belgian chocolate quite like Lady Chocolatt — understandable, considering it imports all sweets directly from a small, family-owned chocolatier in Bruges. The original owners were an Italian couple who recently decided to make the move back to Italy, and they've passed the shop on to another family who will run it with the same love that has made it a local favorite. While this place is perhaps best known as a candy store selling incredible hand-picked boxes, the cafe section should not be overlooked. There are quite a few varieties of the hot chocolate, but you can’t go wrong with the classic, a dark, thick brew that highlights the quality of the chocolate used. 12008 Wilshire Blvd., #101, Sawtelle; (310) 442-2245, chocolatt.com.
Mexican Hot Chocolate at Cacao Mexicatessen
One of the most popular offbeat hot chocolate varieties is the spicy Mexican recipe — and this Eagle Rock restaurant makes one of the best mugs of it north of the border. While Cacao Mexicatessen’s menu offers an impressive spread of authentic Mexican food, its name and mission statement is dedicated to showcasing chocolate. The Mexican hot chocolate is topped with sliced almonds and powdered cinnamon, accentuating the signature blend of flavors that sets this menu item apart from more Americanized hot chocolates. 1576 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock. (323) 478-2791, cacaodeli.com.