The Best Hot Chocolate in Dallas

As the weather gets colder and coffee shops get warmer, there is one drink on the beverage menu that doesn't get as much attention as it deserves— hot chocolate. As someone who has never liked coffee and didn't become a tea drinker until several years ago, I've drank a lot of hot chocolate in my life. The richness, viscosity, and presentation can vary greatly, so first, let's take a look at what makes a good cup.

The Pearl Cup Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate at The Pearl Cup

Like many Americans, I grew up on the idea of hot chocolate being made from hot water or milk mixed with a powder that comes from Hershey's or Nesquik. Unfortunately, this is not actually hot chocolate. Actual hot chocolate consists of two core ingredients:

  1. Cream (whipped or liquid, i.e. milk)
  2. Melted chocolate

In the purest form of the words "hot" and "chocolate", solid dark chocolate is melted with a touch of cream to keep it smooth. This is what I was served this past Spring at a Paris tea salon, La Maison Angelina. Founded in 1903, Angelina is world famous for their "Chocolat L'Africain" hot chocolate recipe, which is so thick it starts to chunk back into a solid state as it cools. I took a video so you can see what I mean.

A melted chocolate and cream drink is a rare find in the United States (Dallas has two!), but I found it everywhere in Paris from their most famous tea salon, La Duree (founded 1862), down to the common street corner brasserie. Check out the six different hot chocolates I had in Paris and note what they have in common:

Parisian Hot Chocolate

Most French hot chocolate is a much darker (purer) chocolate color than the Dallas photos you'll see below. The French also usually serve hot chocolate with the two core ingredients in separate containers, thus allowing you to mix your desired ratio of cream to chocolate. I haven't found this presentation yet in the U.S.

I've learned that the key to finding a good hot chocolate in the United States is to ask what kind of chocolate they use to make it. Ideally the answer would be "melted chocolate", but if the answer is: "I don't know", "Hershey's", or "chocolate syrup", then I don't order it. "Powder" is okay as long as it's a decent brand of cocoa powder, which is likely to be Godiva or Ghiradelli, unless you're at a chocolatier shop.

Now that you know what I look for, here is my list of best hot chocolates in Dallas. Click to jump to your favorite place or scroll to read them all. You can also follow this list on Foursquare and save my tips to your to-do list: Best Hot Chocolate in Dallas on Foursquare.

Also:

Dude, Sweet Chocolate: A+

Dude Sweet Hot Chocolate

The most ugly, tiny cup in town is the most delicious one. Hands down, this is the best, thickest, darkest hot chocolate in Dallas; very similar to the French hot chocolates above. It's also topped with the most unique topping—frothed white chocolate (that's why you can't see the lovely dark chocolate color underneath). And don't balk at the tiny cup, because your body won't want to consume more pure chocolate than this cup can hold! Tweet @DUDESWEETDALLAS

La Duni: A

La Duni French Hot Chocolate
La Duni offers two hot chocolate varieties, both made with melted Belgium chocolate. Their "French" hot chocolate is made with half-and-half, while their "Latin" hot chocolate is made with whole milk. They also offer "Viennese Truffle Iced Chocolate Milk", which is the French version served over ice.

Pictured above is La Duni's French hot chocolate. It's wonderfully frothed on top, with a very good, rich chocolate flavor that tastes similar to Parisian hot chocolate. The chocolate is slightly bitter and was served with a container of sugar packets in case you want to sweeten yours. The only reason why this hot chocolate didn't get an A+ is because of that whipped cream on the side. Unfortunately, it tastes more like pure whipped butter than whipped cream. Someone needs to go easy on the mixer. Tweet @LaDuniLove

Paciugo: A

Paciugo Hot Chocolate & Gelato

Going off the purist's path, I thought hot chocolate with 2–3 scoops of gelato sounded like a good idea, and it was. They call it Cioccolata Affogato. Most surprising to me, the gelato didn't melt much before the hot chocolate turned into a cold chocolate drink with scoops of gelato still frozen in it. Luckily, they started with a good, thick, Italian hot chocolate, or else when it went cold I don't think it would have tasted as good. Tweet @PaciugoGelato

Rise No. 1: A-

Rise No. 1 Hot Chocolate

At this French soufflé restaurant you will find the only hot chocolate set up in Dallas that looks like the trays of hot chocolate they serve in Paris. Alas, the ingredients here are already mostly mixed for you. Further departing from an authentic French presentation, this hot chocolate is served table side in a French Press, which never happened to me in Paris. The hot chocolate flavor is slightly bitter, a bit liquidy, and therefore not as flavorful as La Duni and Dude, Sweet. The whipped cream is also very sweet, reminiscent of ReddiWhip, although I'm sure they whip their own cream here. It's an exciting French presentation that falls short of it's perceived authenticity, but for Dallas, this is still a very good cup of hot chocolate. On the menu you'll be looking for "Chocolat Chaud en Chapeau", where "chaud" is French for "hot". Tweet @risesouffle

The Old Monk: A-

The Old Monk Hot Chocolate with Butterscotch SchnappsThe "Knox Chox" is hot chocolate with butterscotch schnapps, which is quite delicious. Served with a tiny bit of whipped cream on top, the base hot chocolate was not over or under chocolatey, and the alcohol couldn't be tasted (dangerous!). Note to servers: straws are not for hot beverages. Tweet @OldMonkDallas

The Pearl Cup: A-

The Pearl Cup Latte Designs

With a Mexican spiced and regular hot chocolate to choose from, you can see above I've had several hot chocolates here. Depending on who makes it, the regular cup is middle-of-the-road to slightly watery in terms of chocolate richness. The layer of froth on top is thin, but still appreciated. The Mexican version is spiced with nutmeg, hazelnut, cinnamon and other spices, which I love. Sometimes they put a latte design on top, sometimes not, and sometimes the design is made with cocoa, cinnamon, or chocolate syrup. For people who like their dose of chocolate one level below the thick, dark chocolate French versions, this may be your A+ cup of hot chocolate in Dallas. Tweet @The_Pearl_Cup

The Crooked Tree: B

Crooked Tree Hot Chocolate
A most luscious layer of hot chocolate froth can totally negate the need for whipped cream, and Crooked Tree delivers on this, but only sometimes. On one occasion (photo on left) I was served whipped cream and chocolate syrup; on another occasion (photo on right) there was just a thick layer of froth on top. The chocolate syrup on top tastes more like real melted chocolate than Hershey's syrup, but the hot chocolate itself is average, tending towards a watery consistency. Minor bonus for the homey variety of mugs. Tweet @crookedtree

Starbucks: B-

Starbucks Hot Chocolate
For times when you can't get to the cool coffee shops and chocolatiers, there is always Starbucks. I'm willing to close my eyes and try to discern whether franchised food is distinguishable from an independent coffee shop, and Starbucks hot chocolate is not that bad. It has a decent chocolatey flavor and more sugar than the rest, but at least they ask in advance if you want whipped cream. The main benefit here is that you can order your hot chocolate upside-down and sideways, just like any other drink on their menu, so go crazy with a nonfat sugar free vanilla grande hot chocolate. Tweet @Starbucks

The Great and Terrible

In seeking the best of any food, I always try the item more than once in the same place to check for consistency. These two places have served me both the best and worst hot chocolates I've had in Dallas, so I don't know what grade to give them.

Bread Winners Cafe

Bread Winners Hot Chocolate

In years past, I recall having "A" level hot chocolates here, but when I went to photograph them for this article, myself and a friend were served the most thin, milky hot chocolates I've had in Dallas. On the left is their regular hot chocolate and on the right is right is Mexican spiced hot chocolate. Both tasted more like milk than chocolate (note the milk color of the regular one). The Mexican spice smelled marvelously like cinnamon and nutmeg from two feet away, but the chocolate flavor wasn't really there. In the past, their hot chocolate was served with a spoonful of homemade whipped cream floating on top, but that didn't happen this time. Tweet @Bread_Winners

Oddfellows

Oddfellows Hot Chocolate

The first time I had hot chocolate here (top photo), I watched the barista make it with something that looked like a chocolate paste, which he said was Zooma brand chocolate mix. It tasted full of dark chocolate flavor, yet without being too rich, too thick, or too watery. I was impressed. The barista wasn't happy with his latte design though, so I went back two weeks later to check their consistency and get a better photo. Unfortunately, this second hot chocolate was awfully thin on the chocolate, tasting nothing like the first one, but with a better latte design. Tweet @OddfellowsOC

Tasted, But Not This Season

Seattle's Best Coffee

The only reason I didn't re-evaluate this one is because I haven't seen a Seattle's Best Coffee shop since the Borders in West Village closed. I remember their hot chocolate wasn't called "hot chocolate" on the menu, but I don't remember what they code named it. I do recall it had a thick chocolate consistency, a rich chocolate flavor, whipped cream on top, and a drizzle of chocolate syrup straight out of a Hershey's bottle. I'd order it again (sans Hershey's syrup) if I happen to find a Seattle's Best Coffee shop again.

Dream Cafe

I didn't re-evaluate their hot chocolate this season because I've already ordered it more times than I would have liked. The three or four hot chocolates I've been served here were always 1.) so piping hot that it didn't cool enough to drink until I was done with my entire meal and ready to leave, 2.) served in an actual glass, which I couldn't pick up because it was so hot (see #1), and 3.) didn't taste as delicious as these other places. However, there is a small possibility that I burnt off my taste buds in finding out that it was ridiculously hot.

Chocolate Secrets

Chocolate Secrets Hot ChocolateAbout two years ago they made hot chocolate from your choice of two or three different cocoa powders, but I haven't had their hot chocolate in too long to grade it.

Need to Taste

If you know of a hot chocolate from a chocolatier, bakery, independent cafe, or barista who knows how to manipulate chocolate into a divine beverage, please leave a comment to let me know. I'll get this list started with a Bishop Arts chocolatier who tweeted me an invite to taste their hot chocolate on the day I had to close my research for this article:

32 Responses to “The Best Hot Chocolate in Dallas”

  1. Thanks for this! I can appreciate a good cup of almost anything...but chocolate is certainly a prime suspect.

    1. You're welcome Miguel! Thanks for the feedback.

  2. Dude, I'm headed to the Bishop Arts District tomorrow to get me some of that yum, yum.

    1. Buy some of their marshmallows. I've heard from everyone they are to die for!

  3. What a great suggestion! Who doesn't like a cup of hot chocolate? I know what I want next time I'm in Dallas. :)

  4. Have you tried the drinking chocolate with homemade marshmallows from Sprinkles cupcakes? It is very good!

  5. Creme de la Cookie is serving hot chocolate (at least during the cold months), and I've heard it's really good.

  6. You should tastethe hot chocolate at shoemaker and hardt. there's one in Dallas and one in wylie, and I've been drinking their coffee for years.

  7. What you had in France is called "drinking chocolate" its not the same as thing as hot chocolate. You would know that if you knew anything about food or chocolate.

  8. Thanks for the suggestions!
    Brooke, you are correct that some hot chocolate is called "drinking chocolate". There are about 5 different terms I've seen used for hot chocolate drinks. I felt the article was already very long, so I left out terminology, history and other European variations.

    1. Did you try Sublime Chocolate in Allen? It is worth the drive. Liquid joy. Like a drinkable Godiva truffle.

      1. I haven't been to their shop, but I know I've tried their chocolate at an event, probably the Chocolate Conference that was in Addison this year. I had a drinking chocolate there that may have been theirs, but I don't remember for sure now. It was a good one though!

  9. It was not a suggestion it is a fact. You are arrogant and dont know what you are talking about as usual. Drinking chocolate is not the same thing as hot chocolate. They are apples and oranges.

  10. Brooke is actually correct, drinking chocolate goes back to the Mayans, it was melted and served warm in its pure state. They believed it had medicinal properties. Sweetners and cream were served on the side because bittersweet chocolate can be tart.

    Hot chocolate is an Americanized version of the drink. But it is not the same, it is prepared in a totally different way. Hot chocolate is steeped in milk or water and sugar before it is served.

    Drinking chocolate is pure melted chocolate it is served hot all over the world with cream, sugar, or sometimes honey orin the side, but it is not the same as hot chocolate. It the same as comparing a steak to a hamburger.

  11. Brooke, I think you may have misinterpreted my comment. I thanked the others for their suggestions first, then separately addressed your comment and agreed drinking chocolate is different. The problem with hot chocolate terminology is that I have seen it applied inconsistently, both in this country and France. I tried to compensate for this by establishing a broad definition at the beginning, thus allowing me to include drinking chocolate, schnapps and gelato. I hope you can see I wasn't attempting to compare apples to apples.

  12. I have seen you write in different places like D magazine's blog. You are just as moronic here as you were there. How many of these people are clients, or better stated, how many are you trying to woo as clients. Your reputation is quite terrible in this city. Fat, smug and uninformed is hardly a way to go through life. Merry Christmas!

    1. Carla, please read the disclaimer in my bio on the top left of this page and reread the statement from Nancy at D. She later added more to the story to more accurately describe what happened, although her side is still not entirely accurate, unfortunately. Merry Christmas!

  13. Yes the terms are widely misused, but if you are an expert qualified to judge, you should know the difference and use the proper terminology. Chunk back is not what it is called when chocolate cools and hardens. Hot chocolate froth is not made from hot chocolate, it is milk that has been frothed in a cappuccino steamer. Your ignorance to this subject is glaring throughout the article.

    You continued making the same mistake in your response because you don't know what you are talking about. Drinking chocolate is pure melted chocolate the accoutrements are on the side because they are condiments. Hot chocolate is prepared by steeping the chocolate in milk, cream or water.

    It is the same as comparing a steak to a hamburger.

    1. Brooke, I have tasted the difference, and I've researched the history of hot chocolate, terminology, chocolate origins and processing, etc. but these topics could fill a whole other article. I appreciate you bringing up the differences, but please don't interpret my decision to use a broad definition and laymen's terms as a lack of knowledge.

      1. This all sounds like bullsh*t to me. I think you have no clue as you did when hundreds of people called you out at D. You made a lot of people mad and you lost all of your clients (I work for one you lost). You are a child that has never been involved in the food industry except for stuffing her chubby cheeks with bad hamburgers and free motel lobby food. Go ahead and answer to this and make yourself look even more unprofessional.

      2. But none of that makes you qualified to grade food or judge a place of business. You are a "foodie" not a professional food critic! Do you have any education in culinary arts or have you ever even worked in a kitchen? I have. Please don't insult my intelligence and my degree saying you're using laymen terms and broad definitions. Much of what you wrote was inaccurate other things were completely wrong, but you keep insisting you know more about it than you do. I can't believe I've wasted more than 5 minutes of my time on this. Good luck

  14. Thinking your suggestion sounded great, I headed off to Dude, Sweet to try the hot chocolate. Needless to say, I was a bit pissed to get there, find them open and staffed, but to have them say: oh, we didn't make any today.. sorry!. Dude... if you're there and you're open... then MAKE some... not good customer service to send someone away

    1. That sucks! I know they didn't know I was going to write an article about them, but I did tweet them the link yesterday. I haven't gotten a reply yet, so maybe they still don't know. Did you happen to tell them?

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  16. Whoa, apparently this insighted some intense emotions in people! Regardless, I think it was a very nice article highlighting some of Dallas' closest attempts at real "drinking chocolate." There are a few places in NYC I used to go to that serve authentic Parisian drinking chocolate (I'm having brain fog, but I think one was Chocolate by the Bald Man-Max Brenner, and another, Jacques Torres?). When I make it at home, I go the authentic drinking chocolate route...I die for a cup of thick, molten chocolate heaven!!
    I can't go to many of the places around here, because most don't know the origin of their chocolate, and I am allergic to nuts...a lot of chocolates are manufactured on the same lines as nuts, especially "premium" chocolates:( The places I used to go to in NYC, one of them a small boutiquey place, actually made their own chocolate right from the cacao bean!

    1. Mishi, NYC sounds like a great place for hot chocolate! About your allergies… Have you heard of Askinosie chocolate? I heard their owner speak at the Chocolate Conference in Addison this year, and he went into detail about how he sources his chocolate from hand-selected farmers, which he personally visits in their countries. He gets them to process their beans a certain way and then he finishes the process at his factory in the U.S. I bet he would know if nuts touch his chocolate. Last I saw, his bars were sold in Dallas at Scardello Cheese, and I think Whole Foods and/or Central Market. http://www.askinosie.com

  17. Also, just to comment on some of above responses, this is a blog...a blog where she describes herself as a "foodie," not a food expert. People are allowed to share their views and experiences with others. That's the beauty of freedom of speech;) There are plenty of ways to intelligently dispute or debate differences in opinion...berating and verbal attacking only diminish your points of contention to no more than nasty, unvalidated rants...even if they may have held some merit. If you don't like it or disagree with the opinions expressed on this site, either don't read it or better yet, use your self-proclaimed expertise and write your own reviews!

    1. Thank you for posting what I've been thinking.

  18. [...] The Best Hot Chocolate in Dallas [...]

  19. I enjoyed the article very much, so thank you. I'm appalled at some of the comments, however.

  20. I too enjoyed this article, and would have enjoyed some of the further, detailed information supplied by self-declared experts (no negativity there--I'm happy for people to share their expertise, though it helps if they cite their credentials or background), if that information had not been delivered with such inappropriately nasty, vitriolic flavor. We're talking about chocolate, for goodness' sake!--generally not poisonous. I really do appreciate a depth of knowledge and passion on a subject as seemingly inconsequential as drinkable chocolate, and I understand aficionados or experts wanting things to be correct in an article or discussion about it, but corrections, disagreements and further points can be made with a civilized (even, dare we hope, a polite) tone and manner. Perhaps there is some negative personal or professional history seeping in here, like a rotten odor; whatever it is, it's off-putting, and certainly doesn't incline this reader to seek out more writings or opinions from BrookeK or Carla Jennings, however correct they might be in their assessments. So, they do their opinions and possible expertise no favors. A shame, really.

  21. Well, I guess I'm a few years late on my comments, but had to do so anyway after reading the rude ones above. Chocolat chaud, drinking chocolate, whatever... It's about a heated form of chocolate drink and even in France everyone does it a bit different.
    I think it was an informative article/blog and it sure helped me in researching best hot chocolates for my article! Going to taste Dude Sweet right away! Sublime is a good one as well.

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