Like most Christmas albums released after 2010 and those couches in the “As Is″ sale section at IKEA, excellent hot chocolate is terribly underrated. And we’re not here to point fingers, but those powder packets from the waiting room at the chiropractor’s office might have something to do with it. The good news is, NYC is home to plenty of chocolate shops, bakeries, and cafes serving incredible cups of hot cocoa that each deserve their own hot beverage award. That’s why we’ve put together this list of our favorite places to pick up daydream-worthy hot chocolate, AKA, 17 reasons to never settle for Swiss Miss hot cocoa mix ever again.
Special. That’s the first word that comes to mind when we think about the hot chocolate from this West Village cafe. From the toasted marshmallow that slowly melts with every sip to the deep, rich chocolate that carries it, this is the best, classic cup of hot chocolate in the city. Even if you usually order your hot beverages in a small cup, this drink will make you want to order an XXL. But since this isn’t 7-Eleven, you’ll have to settle for the large and return for another cup sometime in the future.
Bar Pisellino’s version is notably thick, smooth, and pillowy. Drinking it feels like starring in your own Hallmark holiday movie, without all of the unnecessary drama. And if you’re ever in the West Village on a weekend morning, stop by and drink one on their sidewalk patio. You’ll have front row seats to some prime people watching, a la the Via Carota brunch crowd and celebrity dog walkers along 7th Avenue.
The Chocolate Room
Both the Cobble Hill and Park Slope locations of The Chocolate Room serve spiced dark hot chocolate that should be the subject of airplane banners, think pieces, and Youtube tutorials. It’s made with cinnamon and cloves, so every sip tastes like a chocolate cinnamon roll. Stop by with someone who cares more about sweets than others, and consider grabbing a tin of hot cocoa powder to bring home with you - it won’t be the same as what’s being made fresh behind the counter, but it’s convenient and tastes much better than your typical store-bought stuff.
For years, New Yorkers have flocked to this old-school ice cream shop in Carroll Gardens for pretzel sundaes and egg creams. But during the winter, their hot cocoa topped with toasted marshmallow fluff is the main draw. The “fluff” in question is made in-house, and tastes like a scoop of cotton candy that’s been set ablaze for just a few seconds. And like an exclamation point, this small touch makes a huge difference.
Kokomo’s Caribbean hot chocolate swaps Bailey’s for aged rum. The full-blown cocktail also involves dark chocolate, almond milk red wine, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and the whole thing comes out warm. Like the Williamsburg spot that serves it, this hot chocolate is best enjoyed when you’re in the mood to get turnt.
Heading to this ice cream shop in Gramercy Park and not ordering a sundae is a bold move. Aside from those, the “chocolate con panna″ is a must-order. It’s essentially a foamy cup of drinking chocolate with a scoop of Italian ice cream in the middle, and it’s arguably more of a dessert than a beverage. But since nothing about 2020 follows any one set of rules, you should still drink these like your morning coffee.
The hot chocolate from Breads Bakery is on the lighter side of the spectrum. It’s a timeless cup of sweet chocolate that isn’t trying too hard to impress you. We’re not going to tell you that you have to order some chocolate babka to go with it, but we’re also not going to miss the opportunity to plant that seed in your mind.
Just standing inside of this chocolate shop in Soho feels like a holiday activity. The ceiling is covered in Christmas lights and it smells like they might have a cocoa tree growing in the back. L.A. Burdick has been in the neighborhood for decades, and they serve several different kinds of hot chocolate. But the spicy hot cocoa is the one you want. It has the thick consistency of drinking chocolate, but it’s sweeter. And the hint of cayenne balances things out nicely.
Dominique Ansel Bakery
Picking up a cup of hot chocolate from Dominique Ansel in Soho is a whole production. There is usually a line outside that’s full of tourists and loyal fans, so you’ll probably have to wait a bit to enter the narrow cafe. When you make it inside, be sure to order the blossoming hot chocolate. It comes with a marshmallow “flower” that opens on it’s own and melts into your cup as you drink.
This Soho spot is all about high-quality drinking chocolate. It’s thick, velvety, and almost has a buttery quality to it. It comes in a baby cup, and the entire space looks like The Christmas Carol blew up inside of a Soho boutique. You’ll walk through the space all the way to the back where you can order hot chocolate in their small cafe. And if you’re nice, they usually offer you a free sample of a truffle or one of the other chocolate drinks they serve.
The East Village location of Davey’s Ice Cream serves homemade hot chocolate with a giant dollop of toasted marshmallow on top, which isn’t totally unique, but is very important to note if you’re walking around in the area.
If Atla’s Mexican hot chocolate were a person, it would wear a perfectly-tailored blazer and tasteful loafers on a daily basis. In other words, this cup of dark hot chocolate is mature, full-bodied, and perfect for those who aren’t looking for anything too sweet.
Churros and hot chocolate are the Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell of La Newyorkina - as a team they’re absolutely unparalleled. The churros are served fresh from the frier, and the Mexican hot chocolate is clearly having a fling on the side with a bottle of cinnamon hiding somewhere in the kitchen. Dip the former into the latter at this West Village ice cream shop, and you’ll probably be set for life.
Wafels & Dinges
If you’re planning on doing Festive Christmas Stuff In NYC, you might see this Belgian waffle spot at a holiday market, like the big one in Bryant Park. It’s a great option for high-quality hot chocolate you can take on the go. And if you’re looking for waffles topped with things like chocolate fudge, strawberries, or dulce de leche, get that on the side and make your own day.
The creamy hot cocoa from Daily Provisions is made with chocolate ganache, which makes it notably smooth and velvety. They also have a vanilla marshmallow you can add to your cup for an extra .50 cents, which is a little annoying, but you should do it nonetheless. It’s so soft you’ll wonder if what you’re tasting can legally be considered food. And if you can find a way to make a pillow out of it, give us a call.
This bakery in Tribeca from the Frenchette team serves hot cocoa with something called toasted chartreuse marshmallow, which is made with a hint of French liqueur. It’s excellent, especially when paired with a pistachio croissant or a kouign-amann from the bakery.
At Ix in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Guatemalan stews, sandwiches, and infused hot chocolates are the main event. Their small takeout window, just one block from Prospect Park, is one of the only places in the city you’ll find hot chocolate flavors like lavender, ginger, cayenne, and rose. It’s hard to pick a favorite since every option we’ve tried is almost just as good as the last, so we’ll just recommend stopping by several times so you can make the call yourself.