True chocoholics know the vehicle isn't important. No matter how you enjoy chocolate - be it in cake or pie form, as cookies, tarts, bark or truffles - it's still chocolate. If there were a chocolate river (à la Willy Wonka), we're pretty sure we'd find you swimming in it. Until that happens, here's the ultimate guide to chocolate in LA, from new small-batch artisanal treats to cake powerhouses to ice cream queens, restaurant desserts and more. Bookmark this page and consider it your emergency kit for any and all urgent chocolate needs.
Local Chocolate Shops
Chocovivo: Step into Patricia Tsai’s Culver City chocolate factory and you'll find chocolate in many forms: bars, powders, butters and even cocoa-nib necklaces. Sit at the tasting bar to sample and learn about her bean-to-bar philosophy: her cocoa nibs are sourced from a grower in Tabasco, Mexico and she uses a 2,000-year-old Mayan method to grind the roasted nibs into a paste before forming it into a multitude of chocolate delights.
Compartes: The beautiful designs on Jonathan Grahm’s chocolate truffles make a lovely backdrop at the Brentwood shop. Sample truffles and buy bags of Love Nuts, chocolate-dipped fruits or seasonal specialties like chocolate-covered Peeps and matzo.
John Kelley Chocolates: These fudge-filled chocolates are so rich, a taste will do. Luckily, the two stylish shops in Santa Monica and Hollywood offer free samples. It's a great spot for holiday treats, like the little bunny chocolates for Easter and chocolate bark around Christmas.
Confectionally Yours: This shop sells beautifully silky truffles made with organic, non-GMO chocolate that’s sourced from small farms in Ecuador and Peru, plus locally grown fruits, herbs and global spices. The mini truffles - smooth chocolate ganache covered in dark chocolate - are the perfect button-size candy to sate any chocolate craving.
Droga: Supporting local farmers, you’ll find the artisanal chocolates filled with caramel made with California wildflower honey and Straus Organic cream and butter, brown rice syrup from the Sacramento valley and Guittard chocolate from Northern California. Droga means "drug" in Italian. Need we say more?
Valerie: Valerie Gordon started out making chocolate-covered toffees in 2004. Now, almost 10 years later, she has a veritable chocolate empire: petit fours, cakes, pastries, jams and an entire line of chocolates sold at fine stores nationwide. Then there's her shop near Silver Lake, popular farmer's market stands in Hollywood and Santa Monica and two brand new cafes. Through it all, the delectable chocolate-covered toffees are her most-sought-after item, especially the fleur de sel.
Republique: This is the kind of cake that turns heads. Made with rich Valrhona chocolate, the moist layers are stuck together with salted caramel, which oozes out in delicious fashion. Available in the bakery daily - because who doesn’t love chocolate cake for breakfast - or served with milk eau de vie at night.
Larder at Tavern: A great chocolate cake should start with great chocolate, and the bakers don’t skimp for the Larder’s perfect cake. Layers of dense, sweet dark-chocolate cake are filled with milk-chocolate frosting.
Sweet Lady Jane: There isn’t a cake we don’t like from SLJ. But her chocolate cakes have just the right crumb and the icings aren’t overly cloying, making them some of the best in town. The dark-chocolate cake layered with fresh whipped cream, Belgian chocolate ganache and caramelized almonds is pretty much perfect.
Euro Pane: The coffee flavor in the mocha cookie at the Pasadena bakery only enhances the chocolate. These cookies are chewy, a little crisp and completely addictive. Also: naturally gluten-free.
Bouchon: Of course Thomas Keller can make a better Oreo cookie than even Oreo can. That’s why the TKO - two crisp chocolate shortbread cookies sandwiched with a sweet, sugary icing - is an indispensable LA cookie.
Milk: The name - ooey-gooey double-chocolate cookies - says it all. Out of all of the fresh-baked cookies at the Beverly Boulevard shop, these are definitely the hardest to beat.
Faith & Flower: No meal at the glamorous new Downtown LA restaurant would be complete without the chocolate crémeux from pastry chef Ben Spungin (French Laundry, Bernardus Lodge). Swirls of silky sweet pudding are the perfect match for peanut-butter crumble, sea salt and caramel ice cream.
Platine Cookies: People might be talking about chef Jamie Cantor’s cookie shot glasses filled with cookie milk, but we’re obsessing over her chocolate blackout pie, a new menu addition at her Culver City bakery. You would too: the dark-chocolate cookie crust is filled to the brim with super-rich chocolate pudding and topped with cocoa nibs. It's a dream.
Glazed Donut Bistro: The new West Hollywood donut shop and cafe has an abundance of chocolate cake donuts all dolled up with sweet-savory toppings. The artisanal donuts are fantastic on their own, but why not get one drenched in Stumptown coffee glaze and chocolate coffee beans, or chocolate glaze and salty-pretzel streusel?
Sweet Rose Creamery: The new Pico location is the only one with soft serve. Right now the two flavors are chocolate and strawberry sorbet, which are magic when swirled together.
Quenelle: At this Burbank ice cream shop, chef John Park changes the options almost daily. But anything with chocolate is fantastic: from the chocolate-covered strawberry flavor to coffee chocolate crunch and the above-average regular chocolate.
Van Leeuwen Truck: The chocolate vegan ice cream - made with a coconut-milk base with Michel Cluziel chocolate chips and cocoa powder - is so good, you won’t even notice it's dairy-free.