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Map: The Best Hot Chocolate in Chicago

When the cold winter months roll around all you want to do is curl up by the fire and fill yourself with warm comforting foods. Hot chocolate is definitely a staple in the winter months, but where did this idea of drinking chocolate come from?


You can thank the Mayans for coming up with the idea of grinding cocoa seeds into a paste and mixing it with water, cornmeal, chili peppers, and other ingredients. However, this chocolate was very bitter.

When Cortes defeated the Mayans, he brought the cocoa beans to Spain and it slowly gained popularity. Once King Charles V adopted this drink it became very popular among the wealthy- cacao beans were only made in South America making it expensive.

Hot chocolate was then spread to Europe and the Netherlands and eventually to the United States.

Hot Cocoa or Hot Chocolate?

Have you ever been confused about whether to say hot chocolate or hot cocoa? Are they the same thing?

Most Americans use these terms interchangeably, but in fact they are two different things.

Hot cocoa is made from the powder of the cocoa beans in which the cocoa butter is removed. Hot chocolate is made from solid chocolate which has sugar and cocoa butter in it. Thus, hot chocolate is typically higher in fat than its counterpart hot cocoa.


Although chocolate has been given a bad reputation in the United States, a study by Cornell University found that hot chocolate could actually be beneficial to your health.
The study found that hot chocolate actually contains more antioxidants than both wine and tea-helping to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Best Hot Chocolate in Chicago

If you are looking to lead a healthier life or simply indulge in the essence of the season, hot chocolate is for you. Don’t rely on a measly mix to give you the same warm and comforting feeling that a great cup of chocolate can give you.

Laura Taff, an employee for the Chicago Trolley Tours and self-proclaimed “chocoholic”, says her favorite spots for hot chocolate in the city are “definitely Vosges or the Ritz. I like a more upscale, fancier kind of hot chocolate and those two places really hit the spot- only if you’re willing to spend a little more!”

If she had to pick five different hot chocolate spots in the city she would also recommend Mindy’s, XOCO, or Ghirardelli.

When asked why she favors Vosges and the Ritz over those three and she insisted, “because of the experience and the feelings each place gives you as well as the taste.”

Here are the best places to find hot chocolate in the city:

Vosges Haut-Chocolat

At this boutique style chocolate store, you will find rich and smooth drinking chocolate. The store is also equipped with a full chocolate bar in the back. Just make sure you bring some water!

Ritz Carlton

If you are looking to find a more upscale experience for hot chocolate the Ritz Carlton is calling your name. The hot chocolate is served “French Style” in a bowl and with words like “ganache” and “heavy cream” in the recipe, it is definitely a winner.


Employee at Ghirardelli, Katie Johnson, says that, “Ghirardelli is definitely the best place for traditional hot chocolate.” She is completely correct. With tons of choices on the menu, this San Francisco staple will not disappoint you in your search for a great cup of hot chocolate.

Mindy’s Hot Chocolate

With an award winning chef’s name in the title of the restaurant you know you are in for a treat. Mindy Segal put her amazing pastry and dessert skills into her restaurant. With the homemade marshmallow you get with your cocoa, you will be talking about it for days.


Famous chef Rick Bayless owns this refined Mexican street food restaurant. Along with the famous spicy hot chocolate you can also get churros. The fried cinnamon sugar pastry is paired perfectly with the cocoa.

Click around the map to see more descriptions and the locations of these places:

View Best Hot Chocolate in Chicago in a larger map

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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.