10 Choice Cups of Divine Drinking Chocolate

By Danya Henninger  |  December 2, 2013
Credit: Danya Henninger

Luscious and sweet, hot chocolate might just be the best thing about winter. From steaming mugs that elevate a simple breakfast to crystal goblets that complete an elegant meal, we sought out 10 of the city’s top drinking chocolates, guaranteed to warm you inside and out.

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    Talula’s Daily

    At Aimee Olexy’s Washington Square cafe, baristas add just enough chile to the velvety cup - not so much that it overwhelms the rich chocolate flavor, but not so little that you can’t feel an extra bit of heat at the back of your throat. A topping of fresh whipped cream with a sprinkling of piment d'espelette doubles up on the soothing-but-spicy effect (215-592-6555).

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    10 Arts

    Holiday hot chocolate has become a tradition in this Ritz-Carlton dining room, where you can build a creation worthy of its home on the Avenue of the Arts. Choose a classic, Thai, pumpkin or peppermint base, and add your choice of housemade marshmallows - in flavors like orange blossom and vanilla bean - and assorted toppings, from crushed candy cane to bacon and caramel sauce. If you’re feeling naughty, spike it with booze (215-523-8273).

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    Magpie Artisan Pie Boutique

    Skip over the pie (or add to it) and take your sweets in liquid form at this South Street West bakeshop. The mug of Ghirardelli hot chocolate gets even more fun when a trio of housemade vanilla bean marshmallows are tossed on top, along with shavings of even more chocolate. Go for the optional dash of fresh-ground pink peppercorn for a bonus kick (267-519-2904).

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    If you’re in the mood for extra decadence, stop into the Rittenhouse, Midtown Village or University City outposts of this gelateria and opt for the cioccolata calda. In true Italian style, your mug arrives empty, waiting for you to spoon in whipped cream and top it with ultrathick chocolate, poured from a more-than-ample pitcher. Don’t bother getting this one to go; the drink deserves to be savored sitting down.

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    High Street on Market

    Pastry chef Samantha Kincaid worked with chef Eli Kulp to develop this new dessert at the Old City cafe and dining room. Valrhona, milk and rye malt syrup become a goblet of aqueous deliciousness, only just sweet enough to take the edge of the sharp, full flavor of the chocolate. Capping the liquid is a housemade marshmallow, sprinkled with rich roasted malt powder (215-625-0988).

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    Ants Pants Cafe

    Unsweetened Ghirardelli cocoa powder and a handful of dark chocolate buds are melted under expertly steamed milk and combine to create a cup of liquid pleasure. Match it with an Australian candy bar (why are they so much better than ours?) for an extra-perky start to your day, or have it as a follow up to a BYO dinner for a sweet finish on South Street West (215-875-8002).

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    Le Pain Quotidien

    Pour the whole pitcherful of Belgian chocolate into your bowl or have fun drizzling it in, transferring dark chocolate and creamy frothed milk spoonful by spoonful and letting each one swirl together in your mouth. Find it at either of the two Walnut Street locations of this European bakery.

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    Tela’s Market & Kitchen

    At Chad Williams’ new cafe and gourmet grocery on Fairmount Avenue, the hot chocolate gets a flavor boost from a spoonful of Nutella in the cup. Mixed with chocolate, the dollop of hazelnut spread boosts the floral base of organic milk to even tastier level. Tip: pair the drink with a square of one of the city’s best coffee cakes (215-235-0170).

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    Max Brenner

    Your choice of milk, dark or white chocolate liquid streams directly from the tap into a “hug mug” at this 15th Street chocolateria. Wrap your hand around the perfectly sized cup and alternate sips with bites of the housemade marshmallow square dipped into the molten liquid (215-344-8150).

  • Rim Cafe

    When you duck into this eclectically cluttered cafe at the southern tip of the Italian Market, you can count on two things: one, that French ex-pat Rene Kobeitri will exclaim “Make it ‘appen!” more times than you can keep track of, and two, that his hot chocolate “volcano” will impress your taste buds even more than you expect (215-465-3515).