Home Bay Area Things Only Locals Know: Best of San Francisco’s Artisanal Chocolate Shops and Where to Find Them

Things Only Locals Know: Best of San Francisco’s Artisanal Chocolate Shops and Where to Find Them

written by ParoChak July 3, 2017

Every time you think of chocolates and San Francisco, what is the first word that comes to your mind? “GHIRARDELLI”, am I right? This name has become synonymous with the city thanks to the iconic square by the same name near Fisherman’s wharf.  This huge crowd puller (a giant chocolate store really) sees thousands of people gorging on its sugary sundaes or buying dozens of its square chocolates to take home, when the reality is that you can avoid these insane crowds easily and get their chocolate at any Walgreens store in the city. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing inherently bad about popping in those Ghirardelli’s in your mouth. These are decent chocolates with plenty of flavor options and are a crowd pleaser. But if that is all you are going to taste in terms of chocolate in San Francisco, then you are completely shutting yourself to an amazing world of local and artisanal chocolate that exists in the city. So here is a complete guide to finding some of the best San Francisco chocolate stores (all bean to bar) that include local and unique flavors, are 100% ethically sourced and are made right here! I will also be pointing out the neighborhoods where you can find them and THERE IS A GOOGLE MAP AT THE VERY END WITH ALL THEIR LOCATIONS. Say whatttttt????????

 

San Francisco chocolate stores #1 Dandelion Chocolates

Neighborhood: The vibrant Mission district. Famous for it’s murals and tons of good places to eat. Don’t forget to check out the legendary Craftsmen and Wolves, a dessert store, right next door!

Street: The hipster Valencia street filled with cute boutiques, cafes and restaurants.

Starting off with one of my favorite chocolate cafes in the city, this chocolatier has won us locals over with its sustainable practices and a wide array of chocolate products, starting from drinking chocolate to bars. One of the few chocolatiers to actually have their bean to bar factory right in San Francisco, Dandelion makes small batch chocolates by roasting, cracking, sorting, winnowing, grinding, conching and tempering the carefully sourced beans and then finally wrapping each bar lovingly by hand. All this love is amply reflected in their super popular cafe, where I often drag my guests to taste their sinful European drinking chocolate or the spicy Mexican hot chocolate (the cafe is in the Mission neighborhood after all) or buy one of their many chocolate bars ranging with up to 99% cacao content! If you want to know more about their bean to bar story and see how chocolates are made, they generously open up their factory to tours in the evening for a mere $5 from Wed-Saturday. Not visiting SF but hankering for some Dandelion love? No need to worry, cause they sell their awesome bars online as well. For those of you who cannot make it to their store, a bunch of groceries and markets in the city are their retailers where you can check them out! SEE GOOGLE MAP BELOW FOR STORE LOCATION

San Francisco chocolate stores #2 Jade Chocolates

Neighborhood: Inner Richmond, gateway to Land’s end and Ocean’s beach. Famous for Russian bakeries, Korean delights and dim-sum (hello Hong Kong lounge!)

Street: The very busy Geary Street, connecting downtown SF to the western most fringes of the city. 

Simply put, there is no other chocolate store quite like Jade chocolates in San Francisco. Why so? because these artisanal chocolates have some very unique Asian fillings, i.e. a combination of teas, tropical fruits and spices that you will not find elsewhere, thanks to part Chinese part Filipino and native Franciscan owner and chocolatier Mindy Fong. I don’t know about you, but I am nuts over their Genmai bar that comes wrapped in a neat green package and comprises of 35% milk chocolate with roasted brown rice,  green tea and jasmine tea and each bite transports you to heaven! They have several amazing truffles and bonbons as well in their kitty which also have tea and fruit combination fillings. Although several SF stores carry their products, do stop by their tiny store front in Inner Richmond, where they also offer amazing made to order hot chocolate that comes in all sorts of flavors such as Saigon cinnamon, passionfruit, China red pepper, to name a few and loose leaf tea as well. They (Mindy and colleagues) are often seen with their stalls in different festival and local fairs in the city and are super friendly with their tasting samples. I am a huge fan of their products and I can guarantee, so shall you be, once you taste their unique chocolates! SEE GOOGLE MAP BELOW FOR STORE LOCATION

San Francisco chocolate stores #3 Poco Dolce

Neighborhood: The trendy Dogpatch district. Filled with SF based manufacturers, artists and restaurants. Don’t forget  to get some Californian-Italian fare at Piccino!

Street: Third street, bustling with chocolate stores, wine shops and gift shops, showcasing SFMade products.

I have written about this chocolate store before, a charming brick and mortar stop in SF’s eastern waterfront selling gourmet and dark chocolate truffles and squares. Honestly, their salted caramels are out of the world delicious and the store carries several tasting samples to make it even harder for you to choose. My favorite is their sea salt caramels where the vanilla bean infused caramel squares (cut in their own SF kitchen) are then lightly kissed with Himalayan pink sea salt! Their “Super Chile” toffee squares comprising of bittersweet chocolates have that extra bit of heat thanks to the inclusion of ground chilies and comes in a delightful little tin, with each square again being lovingly cut by hand. They also have sell bars, bonbons and drinking chocolate, but I seriously vouch for their caramels, they are that good! You can buy their stuff online, at their Dogpatch store or at these city retailersSEE GOOGLE MAP BELOW FOR STORE LOCATION

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San Francisco chocolate stores #4 Socola Chocolatier

Neighborhood: The very yuppie and industrial SOMA, cradle or birthplace of many a SF startup.

Street: Folsom street.

Raise your hands if you have heard of this pint sized chocolatier in SF’s SOMA neighborhood? You have not? Good, cause now that you have, your world is about to change with a serious explosion of flavorful truffles! Socola is the Vietnamese word for chocolates and their chocolate truffles are lovingly crafted out of locally sourced ingredients (Straus family creamery and E. Guittard chocolate) by Wendy & Susan Lieu, the two Vietnamese sisters and owners. Socola sells a wide array of confectioneries such as peanut brittles, almond dragees and fruit pates, but their magic lies in their chocolate truffles which comprise of a mind boggling array of unique fillings such as guava, durian, beer and even spicy Sriracha! The cutest part of their brand is their logo-an Alpaca with wings aptly named “flying Harriet”, who also has a dedicated truffle to her name! Their fillings are innovative which gives their chocolates an edge over the others in town and one bite is guaranteed to make you go soaring in bliss, much like Harriet’s wings:-) Their store proudly serves four barrel coffee and baked goods too. SEE GOOGLE MAP BELOW FOR LOCATION

 

(Photo source: https://www.chefsfeed.com/cities/san-francisco/restaurants/7774-socola-chocolatier-barista)

San Francisco chocolate stores #5 Recchiuti Confections

Neighborhood: SF’s main water front or Embarcardero.

Street: Stall inside Ferry building/Pier 1. Stop by the farmer’s market every Saturday for the largest outdoor market in North America to get a taste of the best of the Bay Area.

Ending the list of San Francisco chocolate stores with my favorite chocolatiers with a kiosk at the Ferry building and store front in the Dog Patch neighborhood, Recchiuti is SF’s premium artisanal chocolate and a must buy for those wanting nothing but the very best! Master chocolatier Michal Recchiuti started the tradition in 1997 of blending locally sourced ingredients (such as herbs and fruits) and single sourced chocolate by hand, and that practice continues till this day in San Francisco. Although they have a mind boggling array of confectionary and chocolate based products, I am crazy about their chocolate truffles that come in all sorts of fun shapes and are filled with myriad fillings. My favorites are the sesame crunch and lemon verbena truffles. The truffles not only taste out of the world good, but are embossed delicately in different designs (they have an SF special with San Francisco’s distinct landmarks embossed on the truffles) to make them look equally fetching! You can simply shop for their products online (this includes Michael’s signature burnt caramel chocolates and sauces) or check out their Ferry building location for their boxed truffles. Thanks to the friendly staff,  you can also mix and match and create your own boxes, which is what I do when I need to pick up gifts for my friends. Recchiuti ships their darling truffles as well, so what are you waiting for? SEE GOOGLE MAP BELOW FOR STORE LOCATION

(photo source: https://www.pinterest.com/recchiuti/handcrafted-recchiuti-confections/)

This brings me to the end of this post on San Francisco chocolate stores and I hope I could share some of our best kept secrets with you in terms of where to find local, sustainable and artisanal chocolates. Thank you for reading and I hope you continue to support everything SF made and local! For more food stories in San Francisco, read my blog posts on budget eating in SF and best dessert shops in San Francisco.

GOOGLE MAP

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39 comments

Catherine July 8, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Great guide to a very important element of my life: chocolate! Beautiful photos too. All too tempting… 🙂

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jin July 8, 2017 at 3:32 pm

What a delightful post! I’ve only been to Girardelli’s in SF and had no idea that there are other great (if not better) chocolate shops to visit! Thank you, Paroma, for sharing this! I will have to check out these places the next time I’m in SF!

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Kareemah Ashiru July 8, 2017 at 3:46 pm

Thanks for this glorious list. As a fellow sweet tooth foodie, this is for keeps 🙂

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Theresa Goodrich, Drive By Towns July 8, 2017 at 4:02 pm

I absolutely adore thorough posts like this, especially because I know what it takes to produce them! Great round-up, and I am adding those super chile toffee square to my bucket list!

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Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski July 8, 2017 at 4:03 pm

OMG! Drooling over this. I love chocolate!

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Roxanne Reid July 8, 2017 at 4:10 pm

I’m a total chocoholic so even though I’m not planning a trip to SF anytime soon, I loved just reading about its decadent delights.

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Asia July 8, 2017 at 4:12 pm

As a serious chocolate lover, I can’t wait to put this guide to good use on my visit in September!! Thank you! 🙂

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Kristin July 8, 2017 at 4:23 pm

Omg I am chocolate obsessed so if I ever get to San Fran I am doing a tour of these! And I’m ashamed to say I didn’t know Ghirardelli was an SF thing! But now I know to skip it and go local.
-Kristin
Countdowntofridayblog.com

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anekha July 8, 2017 at 4:41 pm

OMG chocolate heaven! I’d love to visit San Fran and go here too!

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Claudia July 8, 2017 at 4:51 pm

Reading your article has made me crave some chocolate so badly haha
I`ve never been to San Fran but when I do these shops are a must visit <3

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Daisy July 8, 2017 at 5:23 pm

I didn’t know SF had a thing for chocolates! They look delicious, definitely a post saved for my sweet tooth

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Miranda July 8, 2017 at 5:50 pm

I’m drooling over here!! Love the chocolates at Socola; I’ve never seen boxed chocolates look so pretty!

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Tracy July 8, 2017 at 5:54 pm

Did someone say Chocolate Heaven? The next time I visit my cousin in Oakland I am stopping into each of these stores to fill my ultimate sweet-tooth. She actually brought us truffles from Socola on her last trip home! Such a great post!

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Ketki July 8, 2017 at 6:52 pm

Burnt caramel chocolates, like seriously? And the way Dandelion treats it’s chocolate it sounds more like art gallery than a store. Each description and photo looks too delectable. This is definitely heaven on earth!

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Lyndsy July 8, 2017 at 7:00 pm

What a wonderful guide! I have the sweetest tooth. I need to check these places out 🙂

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Carrie July 8, 2017 at 7:19 pm

Love this post! I’m making a note to go to Jade Chocolate and try some of those salted caramels next time I’m in San Francisco!

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jennifer July 8, 2017 at 7:51 pm

Oh my goodness I love Socola! Now I want to return to San Francisco so I can check out the others!

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Louise Allonby July 8, 2017 at 8:28 pm

These look amazing! I’m more of a savoury person but I certainly am partial to a chocolate or too, I mean who isn’t? This would be a great tour to do for a day in San Fran. Great post

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Jen July 8, 2017 at 9:34 pm

I love chocolate, especially the good stuff haha I would be so up to taste test any of these places!

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Meghna Malhotra July 8, 2017 at 9:39 pm

Though I haven’t visited San Francisco yet, anything to do with chocolates is always reason enough to add a place to your bucket list =). Loved your picture from Socola Chocolatier! Those chocolated from Recchiuti look like a piece of art! =)

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Kate July 8, 2017 at 9:42 pm

Now I need to hunt down some chocolate in my house. This sounds amazing, especially the chocolates topped with Himalayan pink sea salt and the embossed truffles. So fun! Look like great gifts as well!

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maegan July 8, 2017 at 11:21 pm

I am a self-proclaimed choco-holic! Naturally, I loved this post and now it’s one more reason to visit San Fran!

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Kristen July 9, 2017 at 5:39 am

I am totally going to use this post! I love chocolate, but have only been to Dandelion on this list! yay!

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Meg | MeanderWithMeg July 9, 2017 at 7:54 am

Ghirardelli’s is the only chocolate I knew about in SF. So good that someone is championing the smaller businesses and giving them their place in the spot light. Next time I’m in SF I bet I’ll be trying out one or two of these! A great guide!

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Lisa July 9, 2017 at 8:13 am

I need to go back to San Fran just to try these out!

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C-Ludik July 9, 2017 at 9:54 am

I am a real chocolate addict. I eat some chocolate every day, always finding some while travelling, and hiding a bit here and there in the suitcase or my back pack ! Fortunately, I’m living so close to Switzerland 🙂 Swiss chocolate is great as a snack or paired with espresso. In fact, as a confessed chocoholic myself I have to admit that chocolate is fit for almost any conceivable occasion. I definitively keep your post for my next trip to SF ! This would be such a great tour to do for one day !

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Casey July 9, 2017 at 2:30 pm

I have a chocolate problem. And I liked in San Francisco as a food and hospitality publicist for a year and a half, so you’re absolutely correct that I made it to each and every one of these places. They’re all fantastic picks. 🙂

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Anisa July 9, 2017 at 3:39 pm

You know its funny when I think about San Francisco chocolate I think of Ghiradelli! I know it’s not really boutique, but I think it is pretty good chocolate. I like to go to the store and get a sundae with hot fudge. Next time I am in the area, I will have to check out some of your recommendations.

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Bryony July 9, 2017 at 3:58 pm

Ecxcellent insiders knowledge. It’s not that I wouldn’t expect San Francisco to have incredible quaint artisan chocolate shops but it’s not the first thing that springs to mind when you think about SF. I love that guides by locals can give you something you didn’t even know you were looking for. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. I’m going to check out the rest of your blog now!

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Theresa July 9, 2017 at 5:34 pm

I will be in San Francisco in September! I can’t wait to visit some of these!

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Kristine Li July 9, 2017 at 5:42 pm

Never knew San Fran has these, something else to look forward to if I ever go to San Fran! For now, I’ll be drooling through your post =)~

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Christina July 9, 2017 at 7:31 pm

Oh my yummy!! I never knew SF had this many artisanal chocolate shops, but I will definitely be checking some out the next time I’m there. In particular that vanilla bean infused sea salt caramel chocolate…. YUM!

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Christina S. July 9, 2017 at 9:19 pm

I knew about Ghirardelli, but had no idea about the rest of these places! Some day I will make it to SF – and I think a chocolate tour is definitely going to be on my itinerary.

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Anna July 9, 2017 at 9:36 pm

I just wanted to go to bed… And now I read about chocolate… mhmhmhmhm.. Think I need to check out our fridge first then 😛
What a great idea to hunt the best chocolate of SF… 😀

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Harmony, Momma To Go July 10, 2017 at 12:56 am

yes, only knew about giradelli, but we are going to San Fran in august so I pinned this! My kids are going to LOVE this!

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Tasha July 10, 2017 at 3:21 pm

Wow, reading about these chocolate shops has made me very hungry! I love the sound of all the unique fillings like tea. I’m not sure how it would taste but I’d definitely try it.

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Paula - Gone with the Wine July 11, 2017 at 4:04 pm

These all look delicious! Thanks for sharing. I live in the Bay Area and didn’t know anything about these places. I have mostly been eating See’s.. ha ha. I guess I have to try out all these now.

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Jordan July 11, 2017 at 9:34 pm

Considering chocolate is absolutely my favorite food, I was pretty much starving by the end of this post! 🙂 Bookmarking these places for my next trip to SF!

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Aneesha Rai July 23, 2017 at 7:48 am

Look at those beautiful BEAUTIFUL chocolates! I’m in love, not with just the chocolate, but the presentation and wrapping too

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