Hot chocolate is a favorite cold weather drink. Sweet, rich and comforting, few can resist this warm treat. This winter, skip the powdered packets and instead visit one of these Philly spots for the real deal. From simple but delicious milk chocolate to spicy concoctions, exotic ingredients and truly unique toppings, these are the best hot chocolates you’ll find this season.
Capogiro Gelato Artisans
119 S. 13th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
117 S. 20th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
3925 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
If you think Capogiro is just for frozen summer treats, think again. While the artisanal gelato made with only fresh, natural ingredients is the typically the main attraction, the hot chocolate is worth a cold-weather trip. The standard hot chocolate costs about $3 and comes with a lid full of freshly made whipped cream dusted with cocoa powder. For something richer, order the Italian hot chocolate. Running about $4, this hot beverage is thicker than standard hot cocoa and made with the highest quality chocolate. Served in a cup just a bit larger than your typical espresso, it comes with a bonus mini pitcher that holds about two more cups of cocoa. House-made whipped cream is served on the side, so you can add as much as you wish.
1500 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
At a restaurant where the main focus is chocolate, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of hot chocolate options on the menu. The standard hot chocolate is light and frothy and available with your choice of milk, dark or white chocolate. For something a little more exotic, order the Mexican Spicy Hot. This chocolate beverage packs some heat from the addition of cinnamon, nutmeg, red chili and pepper. Or go for the popular salted caramel, made with milk chocolate, caramel sauce and sea salt, topped with whipped cream. Other options include thick Italian hot chocolate, Swiss chocolate with whipped cream, hot chocolate with marshmallows and hot chocolate topped with chocolate wafer balls. Each drink is $5.95 and comes in Max Brenner’s “Hug Mug.” This specially designed cup is shaped to be held with both hands for the ideal cozy cocoa-drinking experience. While you’re there, other favorite items include the dessert chocolate pizza and the Philly cheesesteak waffle, made with sirloin, caramelized onions and a five-cheese sauce.
Morris House Hotel
231 S. 8th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Sip a cup of rosemary hot cocoa made with a mixture of dark and milk chocolate in the same hotel where John Adams, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson used to meet. The historic Morris House Hotel was built in 1787 and has been named on many lists as one of the city’s most romantic dinner date spots. Recently, breakfast and lunch were added to the menu with M Restaurant’s Coffee Club. From 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, you can enjoy breakfast, lunch and a hot cup of coffee or cocoa. Dine in the cozy eating area or grab your choices to go. To make it easy, the menu items are priced at $3, $5 or $7 with tax included. You can also opt to buy a Coffee Club Membership with pre-paid cards. A $25 monthly membership includes 30 cups of coffee.
1172 S. 9th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Rene Kobeitri brings his experience from running cafes in the South of France to the Italian Market with RIM Café. At this cozy and eclectic nightspot, guests are made to feel welcome by Rene, who likens himself to a more friendly French Godfather. Each of Rene’s drinks becomes a show, as you can watch him personally make your hot chocolate or coffee. In 2007, only a year after opening RIM, Rene was honored by Philadelphia Magazine for making Philly’s best hot chocolate. The most popular drink is The Volcano, a concoction featured on the Food Network’s show “Sugar High” in 2011. In Rene’s creative masterpiece, the whipped cream is placed at the bottom of the glass before being topped with a hot chocolate mixture and toppings such as freshly shaved chocolate, fruit and nuts. The whipped cream bubbles to the top from within, resulting in a volcano effect. There are 12 flavors to choose from, including the popular salted caramel and white raspberry. There’s even a hot chocolate topped with melted mozzarella! These extravagant drinks will set you back $7 to $15, but they’re worth the experience.
The Rittenhouse Hotel
210 W. Rittenhouse Square
Philadelphia, PA 19103
After its recent revitalization, The Rittenhouse Hotel is better than ever. Improvements include a redesign of the hotel lobby, the opening of the Library Bar serving cocktails and small bites, renovation of the famous Mary Cassatt Tea Room and five extravagant suites overlooking Rittenhouse Square. Along with plenty of exciting new events for the holidays, The Rittenhouse has also prepared a variety of winter treats that will be served through the end of January. Executive Chef Jon Cichon of The Rittenhouse’s Lacroix Restaurant has created a delicious signature spiced hot chocolate made with whole milk, Valrhona Manjari Chocolate, Valrhona Caramelia Chocolate and a variety of spices such as cardamom, rosemary, all spice and cinnamon. The drink is finished with a house-made marshmallow. The hotel will also be serving complimentary hot chocolate with a variety of toppings such as peppermint and marshmallows in the lobby for guests and hotel visitors.
941 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA 19123
The culinary wife-and-husband team of Judith Suzarra-Campbell and Robert F. Campbell Jr. bring you Sazon, a unique Venezuelan restaurant and chocolate shop on Spring Garden Street. Judith creates delicious gluten-free meals made with family recipes she brought over from Venezuela in the cash-only BYOB. In the front of the restaurant, you can find Robert, known as the Chocolate Alchemist, serving his organic gourmet chocolate truffles and a revolving menu of over 20 varieties of hot chocolate. Robert takes his chocolate seriously, using only the highest quality ingredients in his chocolate drinks. You won’t find any gluten, refined sugar, wax, preservatives, artificial colors or soy in his products. Made with fresh, fair trade cacao beans from seven different nations, free-range local dairy, unrefined brown sugar cane and top-quality liquors, spices, fruits and nuts, this is probably the only hot chocolate in the area that you can actually consider a healthy (while still delicious) treat.
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Michelle Hein is a copy editor for a women’s fashion company in Bucks County by day and a self-proclaimed food and drink fanatic by night and weekend. She enjoys attending wine classes, trying new recipes in the kitchen and going to old favorites and new restaurants alike in the Bucks County and Philadelphia area. If the writing gig doesn’t pan out, she constantly dreams of owning her own bakery…perhaps connected to the restaurant/bar that her lawyer boyfriend would love to open.
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