When a restaurant’s name is Hot Chocolate, it’s probably safe to assume they make a tasty cup of hot cocoa. But at Hot Chocolate in Chicago, they take your traditional views of hot cocoa as Hershey’s chocolate syrup and milk heated up in the microwave to a whole new level. When hot chocolate is this delicious, the recipe is considered “intellectual property”—property owned by head chef and pastry creator Mindy Segal. The waiters actually have to sign a contract stating that they won’t disclose details of the hot chocolate recipe to anyone. Every year since 2007, Chef Segal has been nominated for the prestigious James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef award. With a repertoire like hers, expectations are high—and they are met.
At Hot Chocolate, you can choose from a variety of hot chocolate flavors like malted vanilla bean, dark, chai or my personal favorite: medium, which is “milk chocolate with a touch of dark chocolate and a hint of caramel.” Each cup of hot chocolate is served in a large ceramic mug complete with a house-made marshmallow complement. It’s the type of treat that makes you want to get cozy on the couch and indulge slowly. But trust me, every sip of this rich, creamy delight makes the trip to Chicago worth it.
You can also sit down to enjoy a full meal of savory (but expensive) dishes and end with the coveted hot chocolate. Or you can save some money and make reservations for just dessert. Any restaurant that takes dessert-only reservations is my kind of place. Admittedly, the other sweet creations on the menu give the hot chocolate a run for its money. But who says you have to choose?
In addition to its delicious food, Hot Chocolate is located in Bucktown on North Damen Avenue—a street that looks like the love child of Urban Outfitters and Pottery Barn. With hipster boutiques, swanky clothing stores and other restaurants to check out, a visit to Bucktown makes for a fun afternoon. Hot Chocolate is currently closed for renovations and a menu-revamp, but it will reopen May 8 with more seating and different dishes. The amazing hot chocolate, however, will certainly remain the same.