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

cup of macchiato

Show some love for local chocolatiers


Let’s keep our local chocolate cafés in business

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Calling all SFBA chocolate lovers! Time for an excursion to your local chocolate café.

That’s a lot of food for 2
The savory portion of a Jade Chocolates’ tea service

Local chocolatiers Jade Chocolates and The Velvet Raven expanded their businesses to include cafés just in time for COVID to shut everything down. Miraculously they have been surviving up to now but could use your help.

They are both lovely places for a meal, coffee, snacks, and more — plus they are both factory stores so you can buy something from their chocolate cases to share and enjoy later.

I can recommend both. For my birthday last year I enjoyed one of Jade’s delightful themed tea services. And this year Cacaopod and I celebrated our anniversary with a French bistro-esque lunch outdoors at The Velvet Raven.

You don’t have to wait for a special occasion to enjoy a meal at these 2 hybrid café/chocolate shops. While Jade’s tea service is by reservation only you can get something to eat at either place anytime you stop by. Or simply enjoy an espresso drink while buying some chocolates.

Velvet Raven case
A portion of The Velvet Raven chocolate case

Jade Chocolates in Chinatown

Jade is located in the heart of Chinatown in one of its iconic 100-year-old buildings. Jade’s founder and head chocolatier Mindy Fong is an architect by training and the shop reflects that. It’s an attractive clever arrangement with a lot of pretty visual and tactile touches.

Jade features Asian flavors in their bars, bonbons, truffles, and snacks. I love their Rice Paddies which are crispy puffed rice, roasted almonds, and dried mango bits covered in dark chocolate.

Jade's honeycomb gold nuggets
Jade’s honeycomb gold nuggets

Jade also has some SF themed items that would make good souvenirs — or just enjoy them yourself. I especially liked their chocolate covered honeycomb that is dusted in cocoa powder and gold luster dust to look like gold nuggets.

Jade is open 10-5:30 Wed-Sun. Tea service is by reservation only (visit their website to make reservations) but you can stop by anytime they are open to enjoy espresso drinks, whipped coffee drinks, house-made soda drinks, lassis, and shaved ice Halo Halo drinks plus house-made baked goods and ice cream. And you can’t miss the chocolate display at the front of the store where you can buy all manner of Jade chocolates including custom boxes of bonbons and loose tea which is featured in the tea services.

Jade Chocolates, 607 Grant Ave., Chinatown, SF

The Velvet Raven in South Park

Velvet Raven lunch menu
Recent Velvet Raven lunch menu

When chocolatier Basel Bazlamit opened The Velvet Raven café/wine bar/chocolate shop in SF’s South Park neighborhood, it was a buzzy bustling Web 2.0 area. COVID lockdowns a few months later took that away and now South Park is a quiet chill lunchtime getaway from downtown. In fact The Velvet Raven is the only restaurant of any kind ringing the oval park in the center of the neighborhood anymore.

Lunch is only one of their offerings. They are open 6 days a week (closed Mondays), 11–9 (except Sundays when they close at 6). They have a complete espresso bar plus hot chocolate, tea, and non-caffeinated drinks. Brunch on the weekends plus appetizers, light bites, wine, and cocktails at other times means you can enjoy some refreshments either at the sidewalk bistro tables or inside in the more lounge-y ambiance anytime.

The chocolate case is in the back of the house and is not to be missed. It is filled with Basel’s signature 85% cacao truffles, molded chocolates, and dipped chocolates, plus some pieces made from milk, ruby, and white chocolate.

More Velvet Raven chocolates on display
More Velvet Raven chocolates in the display case

The coolest thing about this stuffed case is that it features what seems like the widest array of unique and vintage molds in SFBA. Basel made some of the molds himself, others he has collected over the years including vintage molds from his mentor Joseph Schmidt. So much visual stimulation it can be hard to pick just a few pieces but lucky for us Basel makes good recommendations so you can enjoy his chocolates’ visuals and taste.

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

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Published April 4, 2024

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