{ EATERIES }

FOR THE LOVE OF CHOCOLATE

As Charles M. Schultz once said, “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” We say, why stop at a little?

By wendy lemlin  |  Photography by Roneil Chavez
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Chocolate. Did you just salivate a little reading that word? Few are those among us that can resist chocolate’s rich temptation, conjuring up as it does the tastes of luxury, love, comfort and, yes, sensuality. It’s the go-to flavor for Valentine’s Day and considered a basic food group by legions of chocoholics. Health-wise, chocolate is a delectable antidote to stress, and can produce the same chemical effects in the brain as falling in love. And cacao—the basis of chocolate—is considered an antioxidant superfood, full of nutrients and other benefits, so go ahead and splurge!

1. Americana Restaurant

Breakfast can be your favorite meal of the day when it’s all about chocolate! A plateful of yummilicious Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Pancakes are themselves worth getting up for, but add some Nutella, juicy red strawberries and a good dollop of freshly whipped cream, and we guarantee you’ll be smiling all day.

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2. Parakeet Café

Healthy meets happy on a plate of Cacao Waffles, which are not only loaded with such 100 percent organic ingredients as chia, cacao nibs, coconut shreds, fresh berries and homemade preserved fruit, but are gluten-free as well! Paired with a cup of Mayan Mocha, which tingles the tongue with a pleasant touch of cayenne and cinnamon, and it’s breakfast worth celebrating all day long.

3. Elixir Juice and Food

Can you find bliss in a smoothie? Yes, and Chocolate Bliss says it all. Organic cacao powder and cacao nibs, star ingredients of this rich and creamy shake, are not only high in antioxidants, iron, calcium and magnesium, but also bliss-enhancing neurotransmitters. The cacao is blended with house-made Almond Mylk, organic bananas and medjool dates, cashews, whey protein and vanilla for a chocolatey experience that tastes too divine to be so healthy.

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4. Harry’s Coffee Shop

Thick, dark and rich, a steaming cup of Mocha is the perfect way to start your day on a seaside winter morning, or it can give your energy level an afternoon wake-up call. It all starts with frothy, steamed milk, which is combined with a double shot of espresso and authentic Mexican chocolate, with its slightly cinnamon taste and creamy finish. Top with whipped cream, of course!

5. Pomodoro

It’s never a question of whether to order dessert when Chocolate Bread Pudding is on the menu! The answer is always “yes” for the taste extravagance of chunks of eggy bread baked into opulent, creamy custard loaded with melted dark chocolate. Served hot with a scoop of vanilla gelato slowly melting into the chocolate goodness, it’s an enticing contrast of hot and cold, dark and light.

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6. Juice Crafters

Go ahead, monkey around with a Crunchy Monkey for an organic smoothie so nutritious, delicious and satisfying that it could easily replace a meal. Get a double chocolate fix from both cacao powder and nibs, add some goji berries (another superfood!), banana, dates, walnuts and a touch of both cinnamon and vanilla, and whirl it all with almond milk. If you’d like, add some chocolate protein powder for an extra healthy boost.

7. Broken Yolk Café

There’s no waffling about the pure chocolate indulgence of a Ghirardelli® Brownie Sundae Waffle. We’re talking a super-fudgy brownie waffle topped with a scoop of silky vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and sliced almonds, and—oh lawdy—drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauces. A shareable treat, but really, why would you want to?

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8. Spice & Rice Thai Kitchen

This dessert is On Fiiiyahh!! Flaming Banana is just the dish to finish off a meal of authentic Thai food on a sweet note. The banana, encased in a coconut flake batter and drizzled with rich chocolate sauce is as dramatic as it is delicious when lightly kissed by flames when it is flambéed tableside.

There’s an old saying—When the going gets tough, the tough get chocolate! And, as a stress reliever, it’s probably no mere coincidence that “stressed” spelled backwards is “desserts.” Chocolate desserts, of course!