Diamonds are a girl's best friend? Please. Chocolate is the way to a lady's (and, what the hell, a fella's) heart, and we've found some of the best chocolate in the city. If you've already reserved a table at one of LA's most romantic restaurants, hit the best gift shops in town, picked up a hot number from LA's top lingerie stores, and just need a little something extra to sweeten the pot, check out our favorite chocolate shops for a serious sugar rush. (Milk not included.)
LA's best chocolate shops
Walking into Compartés Chocolatier, headed by Jonathan Grahm (the protégé was one of Forbes' 30 Under 30 in 2011), is a lot like entering a museum gift shop. Shelves are stacked with beautifully printed bars of chocolate, featuring wallpaper-like wrapping that reflects the content's flavor profile—Buddha is featured on a Tibetan Goji almond bar, African wildlife adorn the Kenyan coffee cocao nib bar, and so on. Just as beautiful are the chocolates themselves. Truffle tops are printed with colorful swirls, plaid, stamps, and more, making the buyer question whether they're picking up art or chocolate. Yet there is something for the traditionalist, too: turtles and chocolate-dipped orange peels are among Compartés top sellers. While the original store is located in Brentwood, there is also a Compartés boutique within Alfred Coffee & Kitchen (one of the best coffee shops in LA).
We recommend: Pistachio truffle ($2 per piece); Dark chocolate with almond turtles ($2 per piece)
To the chronic klutzes among us, John Kelly Chocolates may feel like a china shop: One wrong move and you could send the perfectly stacked boxes of chocolate tumbling. At both Hollywood and Santa Monica locations, a small glass display holds the confections, where the most popular selection—sea-salt sprinkled truffles—sit triumphantly on top. While there is not a heavy focus on design (we're looking at you, Compartés!), individual pieces pack a punch. John Kelly's claim to fame is Truffle Fudge, a heavenly mash-up between the two sweets that seems to weigh a pound in your hand and are even more decadent once you take a bite.
We recommend: Salted caramel sprinkled with Fleur de Sel ($2.25 per piece); Dark chocolate walnut truffle fudge ($3.50 per piece)
With a spot secured in Grand Central Market, a tea house and bakery in Echo Park, and a cookbook, Sweet, it's hard to believe that Valerie Confections still maintains its tiny boutique headquarters on First Street. Yet, there it is: enough room for a few people to stand inside and gawk at the chocolates and elegant petit fours (a crazy good option for the more cake-obsessed). Through a swinging door, visitors can take a peek at the adjacent factory—yup, these babies come straight off the conveyor belt—before asking the difficult question: which chocolates can you really leave behind here? If decisiveness is not your strong point but you know you can't live without Valerie's, consider signing up for one of the bakery's two (pricey) subscription services (chocolates start at $300 for six months; petit fours at $375). Sweet!
We recommend: Stout truffle ($2 per piece), Earl Grey petit four ($4 per piece)
Vodka balls? Say no more. K Chocolatier by Diane Krön has been serving gourmet chocolate to the Los Angeles community since the 1970s, with both Beverly Hills and Malibu locations churning out truffles, snowballs and her famous K Bears (white, dark, and milk chocolate-covered crispy rice in the shape of teddy bears). The chocolate is made daily using Krön's Hungarian family recipe, and whatever the secret ingredient is, it seems to be working. Dubbed the "Rolls Royce of Chocolates," K Chocolatier was the go-to shop for the likes of Andy Warhol and Estee Lauder, and has maintained its top-tier status ever since.
We recommend: Crispy chocolate bears ($25 per small bag), Scotch Hiballs ($40 per bag)
Calling all sweet tooths! Head to this iconic Beverly Hills chocolate shop and cafe for artisanal confections and Stumptown coffee. The chocolates, a perfect pair to your latte or cold-brew, are flown in directly from Switzerland. Pull up a chair at one of the few tables outside and enjoy a full menu featuring baked goods from Brentwood's Farmshop and Rockenwagner bakery. Must-trys here are the hot chocolate and mocha drinks, made using Teuscher chocolates. The shop, which opened in 1983, is family-owned and run, and while fancy (and expensive) chocolate draws in a tourist crowd, you'll also find a mix of tourists and locals crowding the shop's coffee window for their caffeine fix.
We recommend: Triple cocoa truffle ($3 per piece), champagne truffles ($3 per piece)
As a family business following original family recipes since 1935, Mignon Chocolate may have been tempted to settle into a chocolate-y routine. Instead, the Glendale and Pasadena chocolate shops feature the Cuban Mojito, a refreshing chocolate shell filled with minty ganache, and the Chili Pepper, a fan favorite that is both sweet and savory. While the contemporary flavors may be enticing, the Tiramisu truffle packs the classic Italian dessert into a succint ball of chocolate-y goodness that will have you saying, "Ti amo, ti amo!". What we're getting at is this: When it comes to flavor, this SGV staple takes risks without sacrificing quality.
We recommend: Ginger with sea salt dark chocolate ($1.50 per piece); Caramel and sea salt milk chocolate ($1.50 per piece)
Step into ChocoVivo on Mondays and you'll hit the chocolate lottery. That's when Patricia Tsai, founder of the Culver City chocolatier, makes the 100 percent whole bean delicacies fresh in her store. As the first bean-to-bar shop in LA—all of the chocolate is stone-ground in the shop's kitchen—Tsai is intent on setting ChocoVivo apart. There are no fillers, flavorings or added cacao butter in her chocolate, giving the treats a more granular, earthy texture. The shop acts more like a community space and tasting room, where guests can concoct their own sipping chocolate at the chocolate drink bar, or try one, three or six samples of chocolate at the tasting bar. In fact, a trip to ChocoVivo for one of its frequent tasting events—past themes have included wine and whiskey pairings and s'mores nights—may be just as rewarding as a bar of Tsai's organic stone-ground chocolate.
We recommend: Mayan Tradition or Coffee + Vanilla Bean blended chocolate bar ($6 each)
Despite calling themselves a Hollywood institution (the iconic I Love Lucy scene where Lucille and Ethel stuff their faces with chocolate off the conveyor belt was inspired by this store), stepping into Edelweiss Chocolates is more like taking a trip to the Swiss Alps. "Edelweiss Candy Kitchen" reads the shop's chalet-esque sign, and tall baskets of whimsical chocolate molds tempt visitors from every shelf. Since 1942, the chocolatier has crafted quality truffles, fudge and more in the factory that sits behind the shop—though it is close enough that an aroma of intense sweetness hits you as soon as you enter. There are no fancy art-deco chocolate prints on site, but sometimes sticking to the basics is necessary: a good old-fashioned Swiss truffle is done right here, and really, how much more complicated does a truffle need to be?
We recommend: Milk chocolate toffeemallow ($2 per piece); Chocolate covered pretzels ($40 per box)
Among the many perks Angelenos can brag about—perfect weather, beaches galore, quality burritos—the accessibility of See's Candies should be near the top of the list (What, you thought we were going to leave this one out?). The LA institution, founded in 1921 by Charles See; his mother, Mary; and his wife, Florence, still maintains its flagship store and factory on La Cienega, where visitors come for the samples and stay for a box of hand-picked truffles and fudge. As for the chocolate shop's staying power: You know they've done something right when your East Coast relatives demand a box as soon as you step off the plane.
We recommend: Curating your own 1 lb box ($20.50). Don't forget the Scotchmallows, or the Milk Buttercreams, or the California Brittle, or, or...