With this many chocolate makers in town, the Big Apple could be renamed the Big Bonbon. Many sweet shops now turn out homemade chocolates that are so good, the stores, like four-star restaurants, are bona fide destinations.
What I like best about Jacques Torres Chocolates—besides the fact that Jacques Torres is a dashingly handsome Frenchman who likes to cook (making him every woman’s dream guy)—is its owner’s willingness to blend common ingredients with splendid chocolates. He does this, for example, with two breakfast cereals—plain bran flakes and Cheerios—and the results are exquisite. You’ll also want to pick up a can of his rich hot chocolate (the “Wicked” version is slightly spicy), which puts Hershey’s to shame. The chain has 7 locations, including one in Grand Central Terminal (http://mrchocolate.com).
Just east of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the Madison Avenue incarnation of the Paris import La Maison du Chocolat, 1018 Madison Ave., at 78th St. (www.lamaisonduchocolat.us; tel. 212/744-7117). This boutique takes its handiwork very seriously, and avoids any bitterness in its chocolate by using nothing stronger than 65% cocoa. The chain has other locations in Rockefeller Center, The Plaza Food Hall and several other locations.
Also from across the pond, Venchi Chocolate, 861 Broadway, at 18th St. (www.venchichocolate.com; tel. 646/448-8663) opened its first NYC store in late 2018 and made a splash, quite literally, with in-store chocolate waterfalls. Venchi was founded in Turin, Italy in 1848, and is famous for its hazelnut chocolates, and its gelato (made on-site and served with a dollop of hazelnut/chocolate sauce on top).
One of the oldest chocolate shops in the city, the 1923-established Li-Lac Chocolates, 40 Eighth Ave. at Jane St. (www.li-lacchocolates.com; tel. 212/924-2280) is home to new batches of handmade fudge daily. What better souvenir to bring home than an edible Statue of Liberty or Empire State Building? Stores also in Grand Central Market, Hudson Yards, Chelsea Market, Industry City and at 162 Bleeker St.
Brooklyn’s most famous chocolatier is Mast Brothers, 111 N. 3rd St. (in Williamsburg; www.mastbrothers.com) run by two bearded bros. They were embroiled in scandal in 2015, when a number of reports surfaced claiming their goods weren’t “bean to bar” but instead remelted French chocolate, mixed with their ingredients. I don’t think allegations are true (I’ve seen the chocolate being made at their factory/store), but does it matter? Their goods are really tasty, their packaging is gift-worthy, and they hold fun factory tours ($10) during the warm weather months.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.