Chicagoans can grouse about the cold weather or just give themselves the gift of a tantalizing cup of hot chocolate. There's a wide variety to choose from as Chicago is a city that takes its cocoa seriously. From spicy to colorful to marshmallow-packed, the following options are nearly guaranteed to bring a little joy to chilly customers.Read More
Where to Drink Chicago’s Most Heartwarming Hot Chocolates
Melt away the pandemic winter blues
Sfera Sicilian Street Food
The street food experts behind Sfera are well known for their menu of arancini and sfincione (thick-crust Sicilian pizza), but they also have a sweet surprise for those who associate the restaurant with savory flavors: a traditional hot chocolate and a Sicilian variety that’s infused with citrus and spices. It’s also crowned by a trio of vanilla-citrus marshmallows.
Bittersweet Pastry Shop & Cafe
Rich and decadent, Bittersweet’s French-style hot chocolate is served with a scoop of whipped cream but isn't too sweet. This treat is a dessert unto itself, so it’s best to come prepared with a relatively empty stomach. Mochas are also on the menu.
Local roaster Dark Matter veers off the coffee path with Caravanserai, a cafe that specializes in Mexican drinking chocolate. Patrons can expect sweet, hot concoctions like Mayan Mochas (La Rifa Mexico City chocolate, Dark Matter cinnamon blend, cayenne) made with pre-colonial recipes and chocolate from Mexico City-based partner La Rifa Chocolatería.
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A palace for Instagram bait, XO Marshmallow is allegedly the world’s first marshmallow cafe and features some of the prettiest hot chocolates in town, including a steaming cup of s’mores hot chocolate with graham cracker crumbs and a toasted marshmallow. In June 2022, the sugary-sweet business relocated to new digs in Lincoln Park.
This Logan Square cafe opened in 2020, the first U.S. location for the mini-chain from Europe. The cute cafe serves sandwiches, and while there are tons of espresso drinks, the variety of hot chocolates — vanilla, dark, white, and hazelnut — all made with high quality ingredients, make it a great spot for those who want choices.
Katherine Anne Confections
Much has been written about the drinking chocolate at Katherine Anne Confections, and just a few sips will explain why. Patrons can choose from varieties including chai, salted caramel, peanut butter, and more, and top off their mug with house marshmallows or Kilgus Farm whipped cream.
Cocoa + Co.
Old Town's palace of upscale chocolate features some of the most decadent drinks in the city. Try the pumpkin drinking chocolate, made with real pumpkin puree.
After years of preparation, acclaimed chef Mindy Segal in 2022 opened her eponymous new bakery in Wicker Park. Fans can find cups of her famous cocoa and buy her hot chocolate blends (medium, dark, or Mexican) by the bag, along with giant marshmallows that would make Stay Puft™ envious.
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Fairgrounds Coffee & Tea
Local cafe mini-chain Fairgrounds has teamed up with luxury brand Vosges Haut-Chocolat on delectable cups of liquid love topped with a black salt coconut caramel marshmallow. Or, spread the sweetness around with a flight of hot chocolates in a variety of flavors.
Stan's Donuts & Coffee
Stan’s is a well-known entity in Chicago for its doughnuts and coffee, but it also has seasonal hot chocolates, hot or frozen, and sometimes in special flavors like red velvet.
L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates
Gourmet chocolatier L.A. Burdick is well known for its precious chocolate mice and penguins, but the drinking chocolate at its cozy State Street cafe shouldn’t be overlooked. Staff expertly blend shavings of single-source chocolate into steaming milk for a truly rich cup.
Rick Bayless’s hot chocolates are just as famous as his tortas in River North. Choose from five concoctions, alongside an additional three that are mixed with coffee. If guests want a spicy kick, order the Aztec with chile and allspice.
JoJo's Shake Bar
Jojo’s usually garners attention for its colorful Instagram-friendly milkshakes, but when the weather turns cold its sweet-toothed staff features a selection of sugary hot chocolates. Diners can try a classic cup, or amp up the occasion with double chocolate or salted caramel variations. There’s also a location inside Water Tower Place.
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BomboBar has reeled in its formerly over-the-top customizable hot chocolate creations in favor of a tighter selection of two “hotter chocolate” options. Fans can choose between the Traditional, which includes a waffle cone crisp, whipped cream, and chocolate pearls; and the S’mores, which comes with a chocolate-dipped waffle cone crisp, toasted marshmallow, and graham cracker.
Cafe Jumping Bean
Beat the winter blues by hunkering down at this colorful Pilsen coffee shop and sipping on a cup of Mexican hot chocolate. The drink is made with Chocolate Abuelita and is also available as a choco-espresso blend for an extra boost.
Come for the shop’s fine cocoa collection but don’t miss the luxurious collection of sipping chocolate and hot chocolate bombs. Unique options include Original Sin (signature classic dark), Kashmiri Chili (Saigon cinnamon, cayenne), Espresso, and Golden Spice (turmeric, ginger, cardamom). Coffee giant Starbucks selected owner Uzma Sharif as the official chocolatier of its world’s-largest location, and offers her South Asian-flavored chocolates in store.
“The Abuelita” (Spanish for "granny") is a popular choice, but don't be bashful. Make sure to order a churro to accompany that tasty beverage, available by the cup or gallon. After all, this is the Churro Factory.
Eméché Cakery & Cafe
This charming pastry shop in Bronzeville is known for delectable creations like chocolate bourbon pound cake and mini rum butter Bundt cakes, all of which go down beautifully with a steaming mug of hot chocolate. There’s also a s’mores version, for even more sweetness.
Back of the Yards Coffeehouse
Neighborhood landmark Back of the Yards Coffee infuses their hot chocolate with a healthy dose of caffeine. Try the “Xocolatte” with creamy espresso, house-made chocolate ganache, cinnamon, and chile ancho.
Afro Joes Coffee & Tea
Co-owners and spouses Kendall and Aisha Griffin have rapidly accumulated a loyal following at Afro Joe’s, which originally opened in Auburn-Gresham and has since relocated to Beverly. In addition to a popular food menu (think short-rib grilled cheese) and strong coffee, the cafe also features silky cups of hot chocolate in a variety of milk options and topped with chocolate drizzle.
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