Food & Drink

The NYC hot chocolate checklist

Andrew Zimmer Published On 02/10/2014 Published On 02/10/2014
Best Hot Chocolate NYC

After stepping in your ninth slush puddle of the day, there's a very good chance you're gonna want something to warm you up, and an even better chance you're gonna want that something to be hot chocolate, and an even better better chance you're gonna want that hot chocolate to actually be good and not made by some combination of 1) your microwave, 2) powder that gets in your nose when you open the packet, and 3) a Brita. For those times, we've compiled this list of 15 cocoas you absolutely have to drink before Winter ends.

MarieBelle (click here for address and deets)
Soho
The aztec hot chocolate comes in a tiny teacup but packs a not-at-all-tiny chocolate face-punch, thanks to close-to-pure cocoa that has the viscosity of a melted candy bar, but with none of the nougat.

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream (click here for address and deets)
East Village; Multiple Locations
Their creamy, must-drink number is a combo of Michael Cluizel chocolate and Battenkill Creamery whole milk -- get it New Mexico-style with some red Hatch chiles and a touch of Ceylon cinnamon.

Andrew Zimmer

Momofuku Milk Bar (click here for address and deets)
East Village; Multiple Locations
Made from their special Milk Bar fudge sauce and milk, this guy's almost like a liquid version of s'mores: the cocoa is blended with a couple charred marshmallows, heated, and then topped with a slew of others upon request (Editor's note: dude, request).

City Bakery (click here for address and deets)
Flatiron
Get there before their famous Hot Chocolate Festival ends and you can get goodness like creamy stout hot chocolate, malted milk hot chocolate, and bourbon hot chocolate, just like mom used to make... for herself... and not share.

Max Brenner

Max Brenner (click here for address and deets)
Union Square
If you aren't distracted by the super-distracting chocolate pizzas, focus on one of the six-eight rotating flavors of the hotness including the Nutella-y hazelnut hot chocolate, the condensed hot chocolate shot, or the Choco-pops hot chocolate topped with crunchy chocolate wafer balls.

Salud (click here for address and deets)
In Smorgasburg: Williamsburg and other locations
Their ultra-rich and complex Aztec hot chocolate comes three ways: coconut, spicy, or pure. The entire thing is freshly ground right in front of you, which causes the cup to have a nice happy ending of what can best be described as "delicious crunchies".

Jacque Torres

Jacque Torres Chocolate (click here for address and deets)
Soho; Multiple Locations
It's thick, it's creamy, and it's amazing: this OG hot chocolate-pusher is making cups the way they should be.

Winter Warmers (click here for address and deets)
Park Slope
Aside from having a s'mores tasting menu (which is amazing), Warmers also does a Spicy Dark Hot Chocolate with cayenne for a little extra heat, and ancho peppers for some added smokiness.

Nunu

Nunu (click here for address and deets)
Boerum Hill
Described as "coziness in a cup", this dark (and actually not too sweet) offering is exactly that, with 65% pure dark chocolate shavings whisked into a hot cup of milk. Like that friend from high school with a wave pool in his basement, it's "very rich".

Francois Payard Bakery (click here for address and deets)
Greenwich Village; Multiple Locations
Weaving in cocoa, dark chocolate, and a little vanilla, this cup eschews the pure chocolate route for a slightly subtler set of flavors.

Fine & Raw

Fine & Raw Chocolate Factory (click here for address and deets)
Bushwick
They use 70% "dark single origin roasted chocolate" that's melted down and mixed with steamed milk. It's delicious. Also: there's a spice bar with things like sea salt, ginger powder, and cayenne, just in case.

Cocoa Bar (click here for address and deets)
Lower East Side and Park Slope
You can hang out all day at this cafe/ bar, and if you do, please drink a million of their hot chocolates, which come in various flavors like mint, white, and, of course, spicy.

LeChurro (click here for address and deets)
Upper East Side
Every batch here is painstakingly crafted, we're talking 20-30 minutes per. And it's all worth it when you tack on a side of sugary fried dough sticks and start dunking.

Lavazza

Caffee Lavazza at Eataly (click here for address and deets)
Flatiron
The Italians are no slouches when it comes to hot roasted drinks, and they're proving their sweet game is just as tight as their coffee one with this beauty called the cioccolata con panna, loaded with whipped cream and a small dusting of choco.

Ayza Wine and Chocolate Bar (click here for address and deets)
West Village; Multiple Locations
You could get their chocolate martini (which is excellent), but you should get their hot chocolate, which they'll spike for you, if you ask nicely so... do that.

Andrew Zimmer is Thrillist's NYC editor and likes to eat the Swiss Miss marshmallows dry instead of mixing them into his cocoa. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram for more pictures of things with marshmallows on them.

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1. Nunu Chocolates 529 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217

Serving up truffles and chocolates with multiple locations across the city, Nunu creates artistic chocolate concoctions like their Frozen Hot Chocolate and more out of their flagship Boerum Hill store.

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2. Fine & Raw Chocolate Factory 288 Seigel St, Brooklyn, NY 11206

Fine & Raw promises you a "flavor journey" with their responsibly sourced ingredients and low heat techniques that deliver tasty chocolate confections to your face.

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3. LeChurro 1236 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10028 (Upper East Side)

LeChurro is outfitted with churro equipment shipped in directly from Spain and a staff "trained by a real churrero." This joint offers cones of churros with special holders for dipping sauces (chocolate, passion fruit, milky caramel...), chocolate dipped churros, and Spanish-style hot chocolate you're supposed to dip the sticks in.

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4. Caffe Lavazza 200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010 (Midtown)

Italians are no slouches when it comes to hot drinks and the coffee and hot chocolate at Caffe Lavazza certainly proves that. Pro tip: order the cioccolata con panna that's loaded with up whipped cream and a small dusting of chocolate.

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5. MarieBelle 484 Broome St, New York, NY 10013 (Lower East Side)

The folks at MarieBelle pride themselves on cooking up artisanal chocolates and sweets with a wide array of ingredients and flavors.

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6. Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream 48 1/2 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003 (East Village)

With numerous locations, Van Leeuwen has a pretty good handle on their trade throughout the city. And that trade it churning out delicious ice cream, cafe favorites, and gourmet hot chocolate.

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7. Momofuku Milk Bar 251 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003 (East Village)

The original, pint-size location of pastry wizard Christina Tosi's Milk Bar serves all of her signature confections: the sugar-and-butter-based crack pie, birthday cake truffle balls, and the pretzel-potato-chip-coffee-oatmeal-butterscotch-and-chocolate-chip creation known as the compost cookie. Milk Bar's most famous outpost is arguably its cereal milk soft serve, which tastes like a creamier and sweeter version of the leftover milk in a bowl of cornflakes.

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8. The City Bakery 3 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011 (Union Square)

This bakery-cum-farmers market is an exceptional place to dive into to get away from the bustle of Union Square. They're acclaimed for their hot chocolate, but are still front-runners in mostly everything.

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9. Max Brenner 841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003 (Union Square)

From milkshakes to fondue to pastries, Max Brenner is the master of all things chocolate, serving up mind-blowing choco concoctions, like their dessert pizza with marshmallows, hazelnuts, and milk AND white chocolate.

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10. SALUD 107 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012 (Soho)

This family-owned eatery serves up Latin-inspired fare, like their chicken tortas and smoothies, using organic ingredients only found in Mexico.

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11. Jacques Torres Chocolate 350 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014 (Soho)

This chocolatier is well-known for all of its locations around the city. You can go the traditional route and get some of their famous and delicious candy, or you could try their award-winning hot chocolate. The options are nearly endless.

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12. Winter Warmers 808 B Union St, Brooklyn, NY 11215

These s'more connoisseurs are firing up crazy combos to an ever-exciting and sometimes-changing menu.

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13. Francois Payard Bakery 116 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012 (Greenwich Village)

Noted Ho Ho hater Francois Payard has built an empire for himself, both in Manhattan and abroad. His macarons tend to get most of the hype -- and seeing as they come in flavors ranging from raspberry lychee to salted caramel, it's easy to see why -- but don't just stick to small bites here. His mousses and meringues are not to be missed, and neither is his hot chocolate.

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14. Cocoa Bar 21 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002 (Lower East Side)

This LES hangout pairs up chocolate with coffees, wines, and beers -- because fat, buzzed, and hyper-caffeinated is a great way to go through life, son.

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15. Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar 1 7th Ave S, New York, NY 10014 (West Village)

With small plate tapas offerings like crispy baby shrimp dumplings and more, Ayza pairs their delicious eats with a bevy of wine offerings, plus next-level desserts like their 20 layer crepes cake brulee.

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