Where Do You Escape For A Chocolate Dessert?


There are chocolate people and there are non-chocolate people and, for most of my life, I’ve identified as a non-chocolate person. As I’ve gotten older, though, my taste for chocolate has grown–perhaps as a corollary to my taste for coffee. Both are bitter, by nature, and tempered (based on your preference) with various amounts of sugar. So when I’m craving chocolate and I’m out on the town, where do I go? I go to the following places for a cure-all-your-problems chocolate fix!

1. Jacques Torres (New York, NY)


On a cold winter’s day, back in my New York years, Craig was working at MTV and I said to him, “Why don’t you take a break and meet me for a cookie?” We had that cookie at Jacques Torres, New York’s temple of chocolate from the master French pastry chef. It was a memorable day because it was oh so very cold and Craig was oh so very miserable with work and that cookie warmed him right back up. Tip: You can get your cookie warmed for you on a warming tray. Also: if you’re really up for a chocolate fix, wash it down with the famous Jacques Torres hot chocolate.

2. Tavern (Los Angeles, CA)


I think the Snickers bar at Suzanne Goin’s Tavern (which you also see at the top of this post) is one of America’s great desserts. It takes a familiar, everyday item (the Snickers bar) and transforms it into a cause for celebration. The chocolate poured on top is of the highest quality and though the dessert has many other components besides just chocolate, it’s the chocolate that brings the whole thing together. Tip: If you dine with someone who has a peanut allergy, you can eat the whole dessert yourself.

3. Nougatine (New York, NY)


It’s said that Jean-Georges invented the molten chocolate cake, which became so popular at American restaurants it’s almost a cliche. But not at the source! If you want to experience the molten chocolate cake the way it’s meant to be experienced, you should most certainly do it here. Tip: If you go for lunch and eat at Nougatine (the restaurant in front of Jean-Georges), you can have a 3-course meal–including the molten chocolate cake–for $28. It’s really New York’s best restaurant deal.

4. Zuni Cafe (San Francisco, CA)


I know I just wrote about my return to The Zuni Cafe in a recent post, but I’m still thinking about the chocolate cake (or chocolate gateau) that I ate there for dessert. It wasn’t at all sweet; in fact, you could almost call it bravely bitter. It’s a chocolate dessert for the true chocolate lover–someone who doesn’t need to have their chocolate tamed with excess sweetness. Tip: Zuni has a lovely menu of after dinner drinks; ask your server for a suggestion to pair one with the cake.

5. Spago (Los Angeles, CA)


Sherry Yard is one of our nation’s great pastry chefs and anything that she does with chocolate is something you’re going to want to eat. Take the chocolate dessert in the above photo. I have no recollection of what it’s called. But I mean, look at it. Does it matter? No it doesn’t. You want to eat it. It has caramel corn on it. It tasted like heaven. Tip: Spago’s currently being renovated so if you go after the renovation, you’ll be dining in a newly designed restaurant.

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