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 retailers. SEE GOOGLE MAP BELOW FOR STORE LOCATION
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.
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