Thomas J. Story


Sunset  – December 29, 2004

BERKELEY You’d expect Scharffen Berger’s own cafe to produce a superior hot chocolate, and you’d be right. You have two options here: a forthright cocoa and a richer, chocolate shaving–topped version. Either goes extremely well with the desserts. $2.50–$3. 914 Heinz Ave.; 510/843-6000.

Café Cacao.

PALO ALTO Latin America comes to downtown Palo Alto. Choose between a fine “Abuela” (grandmother’s) hot chocolate and a spice-laden Mayan blend. (Both varieties are offered cold too and can be mixed into various coffee drinks.) $2.75–$3.50. 538 Ramona St.; 650/322-6872.

Coupa Café.

SAN FRANCISCO Intense, bittersweet, here is grown-up hot chocolate, ideal for sipping while you ponder the start or finish of an affair. It’s served in a hefty, handleless latte bowl. Citizen Cake also offers a more insouciant cocoa. $3.25–$5; closed Mon. 399 Grove St.; 415/861-2228.

Citizen Cake.

Town Hall. The menu proclaims the hot chocolate to be the best in San Francisco. We can’t disagree but will note that the thick, incredibly rich brew (served with a side of whipped cream and a biscotto) is really more of a dessert — or maybe an entire meal. $7. 342 Howard St.; 415/908-3900.

SANTA CRUZ There’s a bevy of choices here, from Sofia (dark Italian cocoa) to Frida (cinnamon-tinged Mexican cocoa) and more. It’s next to Bookshop Santa Cruz, so you can buy a paperback to accompany your sipping. $3–$4. 1522 Pacific Ave.; 831/427-9900. —PETER FISH


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