Bar (S)hopping

Mission: Craft Chocolate CA I was asked so frequently where to find craft chocolate in California that I made it my mission to connect the best craft chocolate makers with the finest specialty shops in the state. I realized that if I could influence the influencers in specialty food, our collaboration would help to drive the craft chocolate movement. Years later, I find myself deeply connected with both remarkable chocolate makers and the most influential shops in Los Angeles and San Francisco, working to curate an outstanding range of chocolate for you to explore. Today you can find the fruits of these labors in Los Angeles and San Francisco, where Bar Cacao, Dick Taylor, Ritual, Fresco, Fruition, Askinosie and other craft chocolate makers are taking root and thriving.

Here’s where to bar (s)hop:

Los Angeles

The Cheese Box at Wally’s Wine: Wally’s Wine, around since the 60s, has become a heavy hitter in the wine world in Los Angeles, and its adjacent Cheese Box offers the same for cheese and specialty goods. I’ve worked with Jenny Knotts and her team to add excellent craft chocolate to their specialty food selection inside The Cheese Box. They now carry not only one of the best craft chocolate selections in LA, including Dick Taylor, Ritual, Fruition, Askinosie, Fresco and Dandelion, but also a solid selection of internationally-produced chocolate, like Amedei, Bonnat and Marou. Their sandwiches are deservedly enormously popular, and friendly, knowledgeable cheesemongers are happy to offer tastes of chocolate and, of course, lots of cheese…

Erewhon: An excellent range of craft chocolate has arrived at Los Angeles’s favorite health food store, because “if it’s here, it’s good for you.”

Farmshop: This anchor of Brentwood Country Mart is pretty remarkable: it’s not only an exceptional restaurant, it’s also a beautifully curated artisan market, all under one stylish roof. I’ve been working with Farmshop since right around its opening in 2012. We’re constantly talking and tasting chocolate, so the shop carries some of the best craft chocolate around, including the primary makers I work with: Dick Taylor, Fresco, Fruition, Ritual and Askinosie. They’re one of the few that carries Dandelion, as well.

K&L Wine MerchantsRitual, Dick Taylor, Fruition and Fresco arrived in time for the holidays! Test your pairing skills with access to the best.

Larchmont Wine & CheeseWalk right into a wall of chocolate to pair with the bottle of wine you need. Save room for a deli sandwich, and say hi to Sergio and Simon.

The Oaks Gourmet: Bar Cacao’s newest LA-area relationship, though The Oaks has flirted with Fruition, Askinosie and Dick Taylor in the past. They’re now committed to those makers, Ritual, Fresco and more with Bar Cacao’s support.

Venokado: This is the very first shop in LA to work with both Ritual and Bar Cacao. Dick Taylor is now quite popular. 24 Blackbirds has been spotted here, too.

Vicente Foods: I found this wall of chocolate back around 2008 after my trip to Paris. Soon enough, I was tasting Rogue upstairs with Francisco, who moved home to Costa Rica a couple years later. The selection dwindled until Ernesto (Erny to me) welcomed in just about everything offered by Ritual, Dick Taylor, Fresco, Fruition and Askinosie. In addition to the widest selection, it has the lowest prices. Unfortunately at the moment, they are paring back their craft chocolate selection, so get it while you can. And let them know you support craft chocolate and want LA’s widest selection at the best prices to return to Vicente Foods.

Wally’s Vinoteca: Posh, downright swanky new Beverly Hills address is filled with Ritual, Dick Taylor, Fresco, Fruition, Askinosie and select others in addition to that whole amazingly beautiful-people wine bar scene. Also carries the infamous To’ak, if you have $260 to spare. The Marciano brothers of Guess fame have an international expansion plan, and Wally’s Vinoteca in Beverly Hills is its first stage. Expect shops in Chicago, New York, Paris and London down the line. Armand Marciano wants Bar Cacao to grow with Wally’s both nationally and internationally, so stay tuned.

San Francisco

Bi-Rite: It’s an honor to work with Bi-Rite to help guests raise their craft chocolate bars since 2011. All of Bar Cacao’s primary makers grace the shelves at this influential specialty grocer. Come talk and taste chocolate here during Bar Cacao’s regular tasting events at both 18th & Divis locations.

Bom Dia: Beautifully curated specialty shop in Noe Valley has raised its bar with an entire shelf dedicated to the makers that Bar Cacao works with: Ritual, Dick Taylor, Askinosie, Fresco and Fruition.

Chocolate CoveredJack has kept me and the city covered for my original love, Bonnat, and others like Rogue. My go-to shop for Soma. Yes, Soma. You’re welcome.

Farm Fresh to You: A wraparound checkout area filled with chocolate of all kinds has been raising its bar ever since Anderson welcomed Bar Cacao and the makers it supports onto its shelves. This is one of the best places for selection and price for craft chocolate in the Bay.

The Market on Market: Below the newly iconic Twitter building in the heart of San Francisco, The Market on Market is rapidly becoming a destination for craft chocolate. Look for Ritual, Dick Taylor, Askinosie, Fruition and Fresco chocolate on the expansive shelves of chocolate and all things specialty.

Other Avenues: SF co-op in the Outer Sunset that has a carefully curated selection of Ritual, Dick Taylor and Askinosie.

Rainbow Grocery: 40-year-old vegetarian co-op that supports a broad range of Ritual, Dick Taylor, Askinosie, Fresco, Fruition and an ever-expanding selection of craft chocolate.

Sixth Course: A carefully curated wall of craft chocolate bars from Ritual, Dick Taylor, Fruition and Askinosie enhances dessert nirvana in the Mission. If your favorite isn’t here, Bar Cacao’s chocolate closet is just a block away.

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