Diamonds are a girl’s best friend? Please. Chocolate is the way to everyone's heart, and we’ve found some of the best chocolate in the city. If you’ve already reserved a table at one of L.A.’s most romantic restaurants, hit the best gift shops in town, picked up a hot number from L.A.’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.
L.A.’s best chocolate shops
Walking into Jonathan Grahm’s Compartés is a lot like entering a museum gift shop: Shelves are stacked with beautifully printed bars of chocolate, adorned with wallpaper-like wrapping that reflects the content’s flavor profile. Just as beautiful are the chocolates themselves, where truffle tops are printed with colorful swirls, plaid and more, making the buyer question whether they’re picking up art or chocolate. Yet there's something for the traditionalist, too: turtles and chocolate-dipped orange peels are among Compartés top sellers. Those looking for chocolate in new forms should hit the Compartés in Westfield Century City, where you can buy frozen hot chocolate with a variety of toppings.
With a charming boutique in Historic Filipinotown; café and bakery in Echo Park; a cookbook, Sweet; and a thriving online operation, Valerie Confections is a household name in Los Angeles when it comes to chocolates. Regardless of location or what you may think you're in the mood for, you’ll find yourself faced with the difficult decision of what to buy once you arrive: cakes? truffles? artisan chocolate bars? jars of fresh jam? elegant petit fours? If you know you can’t live without Valerie’s, consider some of the bakery's pantry goods, so you can enjoy them anytime.
As a family business following original family recipes since 1935, Mignon Chocolate could have easily 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 goodness. What we’re getting at is this: When it comes to flavor, this SGV staple takes risks without sacrificing quality.
Founder Patricia Tsai is a purist, and all her chocolates are free of fillers, flavorings or added cacao butter—giving the treats a more granular, earthy texture. Well it's all thanks to that, and the fact that the beans get stone-ground in the kitchen onsite. 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. 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, or venturing into unfamiliar territory: This is one of the few spots in town selling chocolate tortillas (yeah, you heard us correctly).
Milla's bars and individual chocolates look like the sweets of the future: Angular truffles and bonbons look like something you might encouter on a space station (though far more delicious than your usual astronaut food), and bars in a honeycomb pattern form perfect symmetry under gold dustings and sprinklings of flowers and hibiscus tea salt. Inside, the shop is just as sleek, with neat rows of jarred specimens lit up along the wall (really, though, they're just bonbons); you can supplement with an espresso or some black sesame iced coffee to really make these sweets sing. This stylish, modern chocolatier is brains and beauty, and with a brick-and-mortar shop in Palms plus a dozen or so retailers spread around town, a taste of the future also happens to be convenient.
Vodka balls? Say no more. K Chocolatier by Diane Krön has been serving gourmet chocolate to L.A. 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 Estée Lauder, and has maintained its top-tier status ever since.
With a bean-to-bar focus that manifests in artful truffles, chocolate bars, bonbons, cacao-dipped cookies, dark chocolate cakes, chocolate-dipped strawberries and sipping chocolate—many of them vegan—South Bay's favorite chocolate shop delivers the goods both sustainably and inclusively. They're so dedicated to caffeinated beans, in fact, that they even roast their own coffee (though really, it's impossible to pass up the drinking chocolate). Be on the lookout for fresh baked goods, such as croissants filled with—what else—high-quality chocolate, which are so popular that it's best to call ahead and reserve a few on weekends.
Among the many perks Angelenos can brag about—perfect weather, beaches galore, quality tacos—the accessibility of See’s Candies should be near the top of the list. The L.A. 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. The quality of the chocolate is high here, making for craveable bites whether they come packed with almonds, coating coffee-flavored toffee, or surrounding fluffy marhmallows. No matter how you rank the best See's candies, one thing's for sure: This chocolatier has staying power.
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, after all, inspired by this store—stepping into Edelweiss Chocolates is more like taking a trip to the Swiss Alps. Since 1942, the chocolatier has hand-crafted quality truffles, fudge, nut clusters and more in the factory that sits behind the shop (though it's 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?
This iconic Beverly Hills chocolate shop slings artisanal confections and its own house blend of coffee. Not into coffee? There's even sipping chocolate, in addition to the lattes and espresso pulls. The chocolates, an ideal foil to your liquid caffeine fix, are flown in directly from Switzerland. The vibe here is chipper and bright—just try not to feel springy after walking past all those flower arrangements—while the chocolates are creative and delicious. Must-trys are the triple-cocoa truffles, the champagne truffles and the flower truffles (made with rose essence, lavender and more). The shop, which opened in 1983, is family-owned and run, and while the fancy and pricey chocolate draws a tourist crowd, you’ll also find locals in the coffee window watching the masses go by.
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 sea-salt–sprinkled truffles sit triumphantly on top. While there isn't a heavy focus on design, individual pieces pack a punch; John Kelly’s claim to fame is truffle fudge, a heavenly mashup between the two sweets that seems to weigh a pound in your han—and is even more decadent once you take a bite.