A cup of molten chocolaty goodness is one of the best ways to thaw out and warm up—in fact, it's one of the best things about winter in NYC. We took on the heinous job of running around Manhattan taste-testing hot chocolate (don't say we've never done anything for you) and narrowed it down to 14 of our favorites. These spots are definitely worth the brief trip out into the cold, so read on for our recommendations for cafes and restaurants that have turned hot cocoa sipping into a not-to-be-missed experience.
Find more great eats and sweets in our NYC Restaurant Guide for Families. If you'd rather stay in, we've got another treat: Follow this recipe for how to make hot chocolate bombs in five easy steps.
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80 Spring Street at Crosby Street
Balthazar Bakery offers good, basic hot chocolate to-go, and it’s not so hot that it can’t be downed quickly. The serving sizes are generous, so there is plenty to share, but it's a no-frills, whipped-cream-free cup.
17 East 27th Street
From the maker of the Cronut comes hot chocolate that is almost too pretty to drink. The Blossoming Hot Chocolate is as delicious as it is Instagram-worthy, as a flower-shaped marshmallow "blooms" once it's placed in the hot drink. Be forewarned: It's hard to resist the treats in the pastry case when you stop in!
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Thick rich hot cocoa at L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates will keep visitors coming back for more. Photo courtesy of L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates
156 Prince Street
Step into the cafe at the back of this chocolate shop for a rich cup of drinking chocolate, available in white, milk, or dark varieties. If mom and dad need a pick-me-up, have it brewed over a shot of espresso.
1226 Lexington Avenue at 83rd Street
Get your hot chocolate with a side of nostalgia. Sit at the counter for a real old-New-York experience your children will love. The cocoa itself is plain old Nestlé, but this stop is more about the atmosphere.
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MarieBelle dishes out rich hot cocoa in exquisite china. Photo courtesy of MarieBelle
484 Broome Street between Wooster Street and Broadway
Warm up in the beautiful Cacao Bar and Tea Salon at MarieBelle. Single-origin South American cacao beans are brewed with water or milk to form a batter-like texture. The milk chocolate-banana blend appeals to kids, while adults can choose from a variety of chocolate styles—including the Aztec Hot Chocolate, one of Oprah's Favorite Things—each one a luxurious and decadent treat.
Nothing says comfort like a Hugmug full of Max Brenner's hot cocoa.
841 Broadway between 13th and 14th Streets
Indulge in a whimsical chocolate fantasy! Whirring machines spin melted chocolate alongside the dining tables. Tubes carrying chocolate crisscross the ceiling. Everything imaginable that can be done with chocolate is done here. There are lots of cocoa varieties to choose from, including Mexican and mocha, and kids can even build their own drink.
85 Avenue A between 5th and 6th Streets
This fun, hip little place makes some of the best juices around is also a great place for fresh and zingy Mexican hot chocolate. Get it to go as there's absolutely no sitting room at either location.
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Hot chocolate made with an ice cream base is an indulgent treat at Sugar Hill Creamery. Photo by Evi Abeler/courtesy of the shop
Hot Chocolate Shops With Multiple NYC Locations
This Harlem ice cream spot is no one-trick pony. Stop in for a truly indulgent hot chocolate that's made with the shop's signature vanilla ice cream base, heated to creamy perfection, and topped with a homemade marshmallow fluff torched on the spot. It's an impressive presentation—and indulgently delicious. Kids (and adults) will get a kick out of the names of the ice cream flavors that include the A$ASP Rocky Road, The Unicorn, and Sweet Socialism, among others.
The elegant and chic Lady M is famous for its meticulously crafted cakes, but it makes great hot chocolate, too. Just a warning: You'll probably find it tough to escape without buying cake!
The granddaddy of chocolate shops serves a luscious cup. Both the semisweet and very dark blends are amazing without a touch of bitterness in the silky, smooth, creamy chocolate. An entirely luxurious experience.
Belgian chocolate is my favorite for eating, and it sure makes a mean hot drink. Sit in the front bakery or a back communal table to enjoy the light, frothy, creamy blend made with your choice of organic milk.
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A Jacques Torres Hot Chocolate is quintessential New York. Photo courtesy of Jacques Torres
Our very own Mr. Chocolate, the lovable Jacques Torres, serves his famous drinking chocolates at this factory. It's so intensely rich and thick that I usually can’t finish my cup, but the kids never seem to have a problem downing theirs! It's particularly fun to visit when the machines are in operation. For full indulgence, add one of his famous chocolate chip cookies to your plate. They're huge, so split one with the kids!
If it's a dairy-free cup of molten chocolate you desire, this is the place for you. Sant Ambroeus serves a dark chocolate concoction that is nothing more than straight, melted chocolaty goodness along with a side of almond, soy, or cow's milk so you can adjust the consistency to your liking...or not!
Snowdays mug of chocolaty goodness practically overflows with marshmallows!
The shaved ice cream is a big hit at this sweet spot, which has locations and Bay Ridge and the Lower East Side. But during the colder months, it's all about the hot chocolate that comes in traditional, peanut butter, matcha, or vegan versions.
A version of this article was first published in December 2009, but is updated annually.