Complete Chocolate Lover’s Guide for the San Francisco Bay Area

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The New SFBA Chocolate Scene


Something good happened in the last 5 years in the local chocolate scene — lots more places to buy and enjoy great chocolate

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This article is our notes from the talk we gave at the April 2024 SF International Chocolate Salon about changes in the local chocolate scene.

Since our last Salon talk 5 years ago there has been a big increase in chocolate cafés and shops where you can buy chocolate in person. We want to tell you about these new places to get you interested in checking them out and supporting local businesses.

The big thing that’s happened since our last Salon talk was COVID. Before COVID rents kept rising and chocolatiers were being squeezed out of the Bay Area. For example Fera’wyn’s Artisan Chocolatiers — which was one of our recommended chocolatiers — moved to North Carolina, and others closed.

COVID opened up lots of retail spaces and there has been an explosion of new shops. It also put significant financial pressures on a lot of chocolatiers that is still being felt today. Supply chain issues seem mostly resolved except now there might be a cacao shortage due to poor harvests this year. Plus less foot traffic and long closures have caused stress on local establishments.

So we wanted to tell you about new chocolate stores and cafés started by local chocolatiers since our last Salon talk in March 2019. We hope you will visit some or all of them and show them your support while getting some delicious chocolate and other goodies to enjoy.

We cover 17 new places — plus more to come — from Windsor up in Sonoma County down to Santa Clara, and from San Francisco to Oakland/Berkeley. Most of them are in SF.

May 2019: One65 Patisserie & Boutique

One65 storefront
One65, 165 O’Farrell St, SF

Opened in May 2019 in Union Square, One65 Patisserie & Boutique is by the same parent company as Alexander’s Patisserie in the South Bay. The first floor of this 1908 building is a patisserie, chocolate boutique, and café. It’s part of a 4-story French restaurant complex that gets pricier as you go up.

At One65 you’ll find French style chocolates, along with pastries, breads, ice cream, and macarons — all made on site. The big feature is their pretty bonbons in a wide range of flavors which make for a nice splurge. Even if you’re not planning to buy it’s fun to walk around and feast your eyes on what’s there.

The café with take-out offers a selection of simple breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, and is open 7 days a week. It’s very conveniently located in the Union Square shopping district between Powell and Stockton on O’Farrell.

December 2019: The Velvet Raven

The Velvet Raven exterior
The Velvet Raven, 155A South Park St., SF

Chocolatier Basel Bazlamit opened The Velvet Raven in SF’s once bustling South Park neighborhood just months before the COVID lockdown.

The Velvet Raven is a café/chocolate shop/wine bar. Inside it feels like a tavern or lounge with mood lighting and couches amid the tables and chairs. Outside seating has a French bistro vibe.

They sell Basel B Inc. chocolates: his signature 85% cacao truffles that look like big jewels, plus molded chocolates, dipped chocolates, and special treats. The line of chocolates feature what seems like the widest array of unique and vintage molds in SFBA. Luster dust, metallics, and glitter makes them look like Depression glass or hand painted glass Christmas ornaments. It feels like shopping in an antiques or magic shop.

Basel signed a long term lease right before COVID shut things down and has seen South Park dwindle to his shop being the only retail establishment left around the park. He is not going anywhere and could really use your support.

The Velvet Raven is a great place for a meal, snack, or drinks in addition to chocolate shopping. They are open 6 days a week (closed Mondays), 11–9 (except Sundays when they close at 6). There is no online store but you will want to go because the chocolate case at The Velvet Raven is not to be missed.

July 2020: Jade Chocolates

Jade Chinatown storefront
Jade Chocolates, 607 Grant Ave, SF

Jade Chocolates opened their Chinatown location in July 2020 on Grant Ave. in one of the big old Chinatown buildings with the Chinese pagoda-esque roofs. Jade Chocolates features Asian flavors in their bars, bonbons, truffles, and snacks. It was started by Mindy Fong in 2007 selling through special events, grocery stores, and farmers markets.

Mindy opened her first store in 2014 in the Richmond District but closed it to open her dream shop in Chinatown. The Chinatown location is a chocolate factory store and café with espresso drinks, house-made soda drinks, lassis, and shaved ice Halo Halo drinks — plus house-made baked goods and ice cream.

It also has a full hot kitchen downstairs next to the climate controlled chocolate kitchen. The hot kitchen is where they prepare their special multi-course tea service that’s by reservation only.

The tea services follow different themes. We did one last year titled “In the Dining Car: The Golden Spike Era” with a menu inspired by the history of Chinese and Irish immigrants who built the railroads and Pullman porters who worked on the trains — did you know that Bisquick was invented by a Pullman porter? We learned that and more at the tea service we enjoyed.

Jade is another local chocolatier that could use your immediate and continued support. Make reservations for one of their themed tea services or stop in anytime to enjoy the visual ambiance of the place — Mindy is an architect by training and the place is very interesting visually — and its expansive coffee bar. And check out their display case where you can buy bars, custom selections of bonbons, loose tea, and snacks. We especially like the Rice Paddies — chocolate covered crispy rice, almond slivers, and chewy dried mango.

Jade Chocolates is open 5 days a week, 10-5:30 Wed-Sun.

July 2020: Kokak Chocolates

Kokak Chocolates, 3901 18th St, SF
Kokak Chocolates, 3901 18th St, SF

Opening at the same time as Jade was Kokak Chocolates’ storefront on 18th St. in the Castro. It’s a chocolate shop and limited café — meaning coffee and chocolate drinks, baked goods, and champorado, Filipino cacao porridge which I haven’t seen anywhere else locally.

Founded in 2018 by chocolatier Carol Gancia, SF-based Kokak Chocolates is named after the Tagalog word for the sound frogs make. Their flavors are mostly Southeast Asian ones like mango and passion fruit, and they use the Ecuadoran single origin chocolate called Naciónal in all their chocolates.

If you’re in the Castro District be sure to visit them — except in August when they are closed! Otherwise they are open Wednesday-Saturday.

February 2021: Deux Cranes

Deux Cranes storefront
Deux Cranes is tucked into the corner behind the pillars in the Downing Center of Los Gatos, 15531 Union Avenue (image from Google Maps)

Deux Cranes Chocolates and Confections was started in 2018 in San Diego by Michiko Marron-Kibbey, a French trained chocolatier who spent her early years in Japan. Her bars, bonbons, confections, and baked goods marry the flavors and techniques of both places and are beautifully packaged making for great gifts.

She moved her operations to Los Gatos in 2021 to a corner shop in an outdoor mall a few doors down from a big Safeway grocery store. They are open Tuesdays – Saturdays, 10am–4pm.

October 2021: Michael’s Chocolates

Michaels Chocolates storefront
Michaels Chocolates, 3352 Grand Avenue, Oakland

Michael Benner opened Michael’s Chocolates3-5 cup chocolatier first chocolate shop on Grand Ave. in Oakland in October 2021. It’s a chocolate shop and café with coffee and chocolate drinks, baked goods, gelato, and of course chocolate.

They are known for their award-winning Lemon Burst bonbons, Salted Caramels, and collaborations with Dandelion Chocolate such as their Advent Calendar which features a selection of artisan chocolatiers using Dandelion Chocolate and which sells out every year.

Michael’s Chocolates started in SF in 2017 before they took over the former Michael Mischer (legendary local chocolatier) space in Oakland near Lake Merritt, where they make and sell their chocolates plus a curated collection of chocolate and other foodstuffs by local artisan makers.

Having the store enabled Michael to expand their line of chocolates. He bought an enrobing machine so they do a lot of enrobed chocolates now that are available at the store but not necessarily online including Oreos, gummy bears, and even red vines.

They are open noon to early evening every day except Mondays.

December 2021: Fleur Sauvage Chocolates

Fleur Savage
Fleur Savuage, 370 Windsor River Rd., Windsor

Celebrity Chef Robert Nieto started Fleur Sauvage Chocolates in 2018 in Sonoma Wine Country selling his chocolates at local farmers markets and wineries. Chef Nieto is known for his chocolate sculptures and he’s competed in pastry competitions on Food Network shows.

Opening the shop in Windsor in December 2021 allowed him to offer an expanded selection of chocolate bars, bonbons, and molded chocolates. It also gave him the ability to offer a café menu of espresso drinks, tea, hot chocolate and desserts. No shipping — you have to visit.

February 2022: L’Amourette Chocolatier

L'Amourette storefront
L’Amourette Chocolatier, 2412 Fillmore St, SF

L’Amourette Chocolatier, established in 2011 by chocolatier Andre V, is a San Francisco based chocolatier/chocolate maker that makes excellent bars at a reasonable price. They made their name with good value bars in attractive eye catching packaging that make for nice inexpensive luxurious indulgences. Another plus is they have some interesting flavors like pomelo, bacon & salami, and halvah (sesame and chocolate).

Before they opened this store on Fillmore St. their bars were only available online and at local grocery stores and other retailers like Chocolate Covered in Noe Valley. In addition to their full line of bars they also sell their truffles, bonbons, toffee, and pate de fruit in the store.

March 2022: Shekoh Confections

Shekoh Confections storefront
Shekoh Confections, 2305 El Camino Real Unit B, Palo Alto

Shekoh Confections was opened in Palo Alto by chef Shekoh Moossavi who previously had a restaurant called Schokolaat in Palo Alto that closed in 2012.

After that, she went to France and got trained in chocolate making at the famous L’Ecole Valrhona. When she returned to SFBA in 2018, she started her new business Shekoh Confections which at first sold her chocolates online and at special events before opening this storefront in 2022.

She makes beautiful bonbons with interesting flavors, drawing inspiration from cuisines around the world and using local ingredients like Meyer lemons and pistachios. She also makes molded chocolates, barks, and confections like nougat, caramel, and marshmallows — and just for fun almost life size molded high heels and designer bags.

June 2022: Sweet55

Sweet55 Palo Alto
Sweet55’s second location, Town & Country Village, 855 El Camino Real, Suite 123, Palo Alto

Sweet55 is a Swiss style chocolatier that was opened in Half Moon Bay in 2016 by Swiss-trained chocolatier Ursula Schnyder. In June 2022, she opened their second location in Palo Alto.

The original location is where they make their chocolates, pastries, and desserts. Both locations are chocolate shops and cafés.

In addition to the quality chocolate they make, Sweet55’s packaging is very Swiss and makes for impressive gifts.

November 2022: Dandelion Chocolate

Dandelion Fillmore St popup
Dandelion Chocolate, 2115 Fillmore St, SF

Bean-to-bar maker Dandelion Chocolate is probably the 3rd largest chocolate maker in the area after Ghirardelli and Guittard. Founded by former tech guys Todd Masonis and Cameron Ring in 2010, it has grown to several locations locally plus one in Las Vegas and 3 in Japan.

Dandelion opened this fourth SF location on Fillmore St. as a popup for the 2022 holiday season. It never closed down, instead it became a permanent location for buying their single origin bars, confections, and gift packs. Unlike the other SFBA locations there are no chocolate drinks or baked goods at this location. It’s strictly retail.

The store is scheduled to close for renovation in the late summer/fall and reopen for the 2024 holidays. Maybe after that we will see an expanded line offered.

July 2023: Bisou Chocolate

Bisou storefront
Bisou Chocolate, 2929 Ninth St, Berkeley

East Bay bean-to-bar chocolate maker, Bisou Chocolate, was started in 2006 in Berkeley by Eli Curtis and Tracey Britton, moved to Oakland for a while, and in July 2023 moved back to Berkeley with their first storefront. Their previous location was more a pickup kitchen setup; this one is a proper store.

Bisou makes single-origin bars from locations across the equator in cacao strengths from 50% to 100%. Their ingredient lists are small, and they don’t use dairy or soy products in their chocolate.

They have expanded their line to include vegan truffles, caramels, and dragées all made with their chocolate. They also offer drinking chocolate in different cacao percentages and chocolate dipped fruit.

They have limited hours: Bisou is open Wednesday-Friday afternoons only.

July 2023: Ghirardelli Square

Ghirardelli sign
Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, 900 North Point St, SF

Perhaps the best known chocolate name in the Bay Area Ghirardelli Chocolate Company completed a major renovation of this local chocolate landmark in July 2023.

Ghirardelli was started during the 1800s’ Gold Rush in SF. It is one of two local chocolate pioneers (the other being Guittard) still in business today. Ghirardelli was bought by Swiss chocolate manufacturer Lindt in 1998, but continues to be a separate brand headquartered in San Leandro.

Ghirardelli Square is the site of the Ghirardelli factory that opened in 1893. It retains some of the original architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. It was first converted into a shopping complex in the 1960s. This is the first major renovation since then.

On-site are the Ghirardelli Chocolate Experience Store which has the biggest selection, the Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop which includes a self-guided tour of chocolate-making, and Ghirardelli On-The-Go which has a limited selection and menu.

August 2023: Shekoh Confections Café

Shekoh Confections Cafe
Shekoh Confections Cafe, 444 University Ave, Palo Alto

Chef Shekoh Moussaka opened a second location in Palo Alto on University Ave. a little over a year after opening the first Shekoh Confections. Named Shekoh Confections Café, the new location is a chocolate shop/café with sandwiches, salads, cheese plates, desserts, coffee drinks, and Persian tea.

Xocolate and Confections exterior
Xocolate & Confections, 5854 College Ave, Oakland

September 2023:
Xocolate & confections

The Xocolate Bar opened a second location called Xocolate & Confections in September 2023 in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood.

The Xocolate Bar is a Latina-owned chocolatier/chocolate shop started in 2006. They make bars, barks, bonbons, and dipped chocolates in their original store on Solano Ave. They also carry other chocolate including some local chocolate/confections, such as NeoCocoa, Raphio, and Kindred Caramels.

Because the Rockridge store is bigger they have an expanded selection of chocolate including bars made in the countries of origin of the beans used. They also sell some chocolate themed merchandise,  vintage candy dishes — I haven’t seen those at any other chocolate shop — and  other sweets like Italian hard candies and chocolates by the next new local chocolate shop.

Venchi chocolate waterfall
Venchi’s chocolate waterfall at Westfield Valley Fair Mall, 2855 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara

December 2023:
Venchi San Jose

Venchi established in Turin, Italy in 1878 and now with shops worldwide, opened one of their ChocoGelaterias in Santa Clara in December 2023. It features one of their signature chocolate waterfalls behind the counter.

At the store Venchi sells Gianduiottos (their original hazelnut filled chocolates), Nougatines (chocolate covered hazelnut pralines), Chocoviar (bonbons covered with crunchy pearls), and chocolate bars, chocolate cigars, chocolate spreads, and hot chocolate mixes — and of course gelato.

February 2024: Love + Chocolate

Love + Chocolate Rockridge storefront
Love + Chocolate in Rockridge, 6309 College Avenue, Oakland

In Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood a few blocks from Xocolate & Confections is the second location of Love + Chocolate based in Walnut Creek. Previously Café Leonidas, the Walnut Creek chocolate shop was rebranded in 2017 as Love + Chocolate. They primarily sell Leonidas Belgian chocolate.

Coming soon:

August 2024: Socola Chocolatier

Socola Chocolatier

Socola Chocolatier3-5 cup chocolatier recently announced they are opening a new store at Terminal 3 at SFO in August.

Socola was started in 2001 by sisters Wendy and Susan Lieu, when they were both still teenagers. Their factory store opened in 2014 in SOMA sells their bonbons, bars, confections and other treats. Like their name which is Vietnamese for chocolate, many of their chocolates show influences of their Vietnamese heritage such as the Durian King Milk Chocolate Bar made with real durian.


Late summer/early fall 2024:
Rainy Day Chocolate

Rainy Day Chocolate, 6484 Mirabel Rd #6492, Forestville

Husband and wife chocolatiers Jennifer Daly and Christopher Sund founded Rainy Day Chocolate in 2016. They make their own single origin bean-to-bar chocolate, plus award-winning toffees, dipped chocolates, truffles, and other treats using Belgian couverture. They have been selling their chocolate at farmers markets and special events like the Chocolate Salon since the beginning.

They are opening a café/factory store in a former Chinese restaurant in Forestville. Follow their Instagram account for updates.

TBD: aL chocoLat Boutique

al chocolat logo

Artisan chocolatier Lena Walther established aL chocoLat Boutique in Los Gatos in 2022. Drawing on her background in interior design, she makes and hand paints seasonal bonbons, molded chocolates, and bars.

Last fall she announced the planned to open a shop in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood. At the Salon she said she is still looking for space.

Finally, we have heard rumors of a local chocolatier opening a store/café in the waterfront Brooklyn Basin development near Jack London Square in Oakland but that’s not been confirmed. Clearly this story is not finished yet. Stay tuned for more local chocolate!

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Published April 10, 2024

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