If you can't imagine getting your fill of chocolate, you haven't done a chocolate tour of San Francisco. You can actually make a one-day trek of the San Francisco shops -- a great way to work off your chocolate -- although I would recommend thick soles -- and a Muni Fast Pass, just in case.
In 2007, Gourmet Walks launched a chocolate-themed tour that takes a fun and educational look at some of the city's best chocolatiers -- with stops for samples.
If you're looking for salt caramels -- a delectable balance of sweetness and salt -- stop by the Ferry Building along SF's Embarcadero for some of Michael Recchiuti's Fleur de Sel Caramels, covered in dark chocolate. The shop is known for its miniature works of edible art, along with unique box selections such as the Burgundy Box, a 32-piece gift-box filled with three layers of confections including chocolates infused with ginger, pink peppercorn, and Kona coffee.
XOX chocolates are authentic French truffles, handmade in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood. There's a truffle flavor to suit your palate, from Earl Grey to Cognac to Noisette. Created by Chef Jean-Marc Gorce (formerly of Fringale), XOX are San Francisco favorites, known for their delectable and smooth texture.
A large, global selection of chocolate beans hand-picked by the shop's world-traveling owners. Bittersweet opened its first cafe in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland, and it's a cafe and shop in one. There's chocolate displayed along counters and walls, and areas to sit and enjoy hot chocolate, coffee, brownies and other treats.
The best way to describe this Hayes Valley shop is boutique and lounge -- with a selection of artisanal and painted chocolate (hand-painted or airbrushed with cocoa butter), as well as a lounge area where you can relax with a cup of hot cocoa.
Elbow hails from Kansas City where the chocolates are still made, with his personal supervision and touch. The painted designs are unique to each flavor and style available at the shop.
Located within San Francisco's always-vibrant Union Square neighborhood, Teuscher may be best known for the house specialty -- its popular Champagne Truffles. The Zurich-based chocolatier offers more than 100 varieties that it ships worldwide. You'll also find seasonal and holiday packaging as well as special occasion varieties (such as floral and wedding package designs).
Fog City News, in the heart of the Financial District and Embarcadero areas, has one of the largest chocolate selections in the States. Enjoy hundreds of international varieties -- Swiss, Belgian, Italian, French and others -- along with an extensive selection of newspapers and magazines. The staff members at Fog City know their chocolate and are extremely helpful.
Chocolate Covered fills a unique niche at its San Francisco Noe Valley store (just south of the Castro). Owner Jack Epstein will personally create custom photo tins and boxes with any quality image you bring in. Be sure to account for adequate lead time, especially before the holidays. You can fill the gift tins with confections of your choice, and Chocolate Covered has more than enough choice in chocolate and sweets.
Handmade chocolate in small batches, from chocolatier Charles Siegel. If you suffer withdrawals when you get to the bottom of your candy box, you're a prime candidate for the Charles edible chocolate box where the packaging tastes as good as the chocolate inside. Like Recchiuti, Charles Chocolates makes a Fleur de Sel Caramel, and also triple chocolate almonds or hazelnuts, marzipan, and other confections. Sold at retail shops Bay Area-wide.
This small-batch bean to bar chocolatier has been making a splash since first opening along the Mission's Valencia Street in 2010. In 2019 it moved to a much larger location with its own cafe, retail shop, factory (which is open for guided tours) and a weekend chocolate salon that serves up breakfast and afternoon desserts, as well as a weekend prix-fixe tea and chocolate pairing. Dandelion also offers workshops in everything from making your own chocolate bar to the evolution of chocolate, talks on sourcing, and even trips to cacao farms worldwide, including Belize, Colombia, and Tanzania.
TCHO is the creation of former Space Shuttle technologist Timothy Childs, and its name stands for technology meets chocolate (it's also Childs' initials). The TCHO project began in 2005, when Childs was working as a confectioner at Oakland's Cabaret Chocolates, a company he co-founded. As he was passing out some of his own experimental chocolate at a David Byrne speech, hoping to pull together some investors interested in a new business he was planning with industry veteran Karl Bittong, his chocolate caught the taste buds of Wired co-founder Louis Rossetto, a longtime associate, who said it was the best he'd ever tasted. Soon after they formed a team, and TCHO was born. The award-winning chocolate (sold in flavors like dark chocolate "banana nut" and milk chocolate "snickerdoodle") is currently made at TCHO's factory in Berkeley, though tours of the facility are on hiatus.