Finding the best hot chocolate or hot cocoa in Washington, D.C. is actually harder than you may think. While there are plenty of coffee shops across the city, not all serve hot chocolate, and if they do, it’s not always worth going out of your way to grab it.
I decided I’d spend the winter looking for the best hot chocolate near me. Naturally, I dragged my kids with me, because if anyone has an opinion about hot chocolate, it’s kids. And mine never hold back.
Finding the best hot chocolate
When looking for the best hot chocolate in D.C., we search the DC coffee shops, restaurants, ice cream shops and random hole in the walls. Store-bought hot cocoa is not a sin, and is sometimes way better than what I can make at home.
A real cup of hot chocolate uses warm milk, not hot water, combined with either a very good hot chocolate mix, melted chocolate whisked into the milk, or cocoa powder with granulated sugar and a splash of vanilla extract.
It should be creamy and hot, topped with whipped cream, chopped chocolate and/or mini marshmallows. Throw a candy cane in there during Christmas in D.C. and you have a winner.
As for flavor, it should give you that perfect chocolate taste, not going too sweet or not having enough chocolate so all you taste is warm milk. Outside of that, the sky is the limit.
Does White Chocolate Hot Chocolate count?
And yes, white hot chocolate counts too, especially for those with rosacea or cacao allergies who can only take a sip of chocolate, like me. Now you see why I can’t be greedy and why I have to bring my kids to finish all of my hot chocolates. It’s not really out of love. Ha!
Ice Cream Jubilee
- Address: multiple locations
- 1407 T St NW, Washington, DC 20009
- 301 Water St SE # 105, Washington, DC 20003
- 4238 Wilson Blvd Level C, Arlington, VA 22203
Earl Grey White Hot Chocolate– need I say more? It’s even better than it sounds and tastes exactly like an earl grey tea dipped in warm white chocolate. Weird? Yes, it sounds like it, but trust me, if you love sweets and tea, this is the the best hot cocoa for you.
For those who want the real deal and love their cacao, grab a Nutella hot cocoa or Peppermint Cocoa before you stroll around Yards Park or through the city. With three Ice Cream Jubilee locations in the city, it’s pretty easy to load up.
Boozy Eggnog is also on the menu, with nutmeg, eggnog and a splash or two of rum to keep you warm as you explore Light Yards this winter.
- Address: multiple locations
- 1405 T St NW, Washington, DC 20009
- 10 Pearl St SW, Washington, DC 20024
Empanadas are the main reason we go to Colada Shop, but in winter a churro and hot cocoa are just what my kids crave when we head down to Pearl Street on the Wharf or up to the U Street Corridor.
Order a Chocolate de la Abuela, a classic cuban hot chocolate with a large roasted marshmallow on top and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Even grownups will be excited to sip this hot beverage to stay warm.
Secret: this is probably my favorite hot chocolate with actual chocolate in it, not white chocolate, in the city. It’s very hard for me not to have more than a sip or two before handing it to my boys.
- Address: 3141 N St NW, Washington, DC 20007
Like coffee art? Then you will love Cafe Georgetown’s seasonal peppermint hot cocoa with a splash of red candy cane art on top.
While I usually pop in here for a cappuccino and piece (or three) of baklava, during the holidays, we are all over the cocoa in my house. And if chocolate isn’t your think, you can get coffee art on most of their espresso drinks. Just keep in mind that coffee art is an additional fee.
Levain Bakery- Georgetown
- Address: 3131 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007
You could settle for coffee at Levain Bakery, a popular Georgetown pastry shop, or you could order the Valrhona Hot Chocolate.
What is Valrhona chocolate? Well, it claims to be the best chocolate in the world that has been made in Tain L’Hermitage, France since 1922. Who are we to argue.
This decadent, rich chocolate is perfect for cacao aficionados.
- Address: 2032 P St NW, Washington, DC 20036
Embassy is one of my favorite places to meet clients or friends for a spot of breakfast and a latte or lavender hot chocolate. The beauty of this hot chocolate is that it comes with a floral flavor that only elevates the chocolate, and doesn’t go all soapy and distract from what you really want from your order– a chocolate kick that will keep you warm and moving the rest of the morning.
- Address: 705 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003
If you love European-style hot sipping chocolate, than you need to wander over to Souk in Capital Hill. Sister-store, the Sweet Shop, has your macarons and cupcakes, but just two blocks down you will find Souk serving up sipping chocolate in espresso cups for everyone in the family to enjoy.
House-made toasted cardamom marshmallows have us screaming for more whenever we are in Capital Hill.
Just keep in mind that kids used to sugary hot chocolate may not be as excited as you to have it this rich dark chocolate with the consistency of warm pudding.
Sweet Science Coffee
- Address: 35 N Street NE, Washington, DC 20002
Hot chocolate gets a face lift with four different kinds of hot cocoa you can go with– Goat Noir, Menthe Blanc, Spiced Chocolate and of course, the traditional dark hot chocolate. All are offered hot or iced, and you can always add a shot of espresso to make it a mocha.
But what makes these seasonal hot chocolates so special?
- Goat Noir: Black chocolate Sauce with steamed Goat Milk is less sweet, with a refreshing finish.
- Menthe Blanc: White chocolate and house-made peppermint sauce whipped into steamed coconut milk.
- Spiced Chocolate: Your choice of white or dark chocolate with house-made Cinnamon-Spiced Syrup, and your choice of whole milk, skim milk, oat or coconut milk.
- Traditional dark hot chocolate
- Address: 1201 K St NW, Washington, DC 20005
I’m allergic to mushrooms, so the idea of mushroom hot chocolate being on a menu baffled me when I stepped into Kintsugi in the Eden Hotel.
After some careful research about WHY anyone would want mushrooms in their chocolate, I did find that you can’t taste the mushrooms, and the fungi give added health benefits and enhance the flavor of the chocolate that is in the drink.
So, basically I think they are saying mushroom hot chocolate is healthy and you should be drinking more of it. If you are as intrigued as I was, go try it and let me know what you think.
- Address: 413 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20004
Pitango Gelato’s Hot Chocolate Affogato puts a decadent spin on the humble hot chocolate by pouring molten dark chocolate over ice cream, creating a creamy slurry that you can easily share between a family.
And if you need something more decadent, check out their sipping hot chocolate.
The Pretzel Bakery
- Address: 257 15th St SE, Washington, DC 20003
Born and raised in Philadelphia, I’m pretty critical of any place that sells soft pretzels. And one that has beverages? I’d never heard of such a thing!
However, the Hotella is claimed to be “world famous” by the bakery itself, and brings together two things so many love– Nutella and hot chocolate. Who are we to argue when we can get a warm side of salty goodness in a pretzel to go with it?
- Address: 501 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001
Pop into The Royal for breakfast or lunch (get the arepas!), and order up a Turmeric Hot Chocolate, a combo of turmeric spice blend, dark chocolate and steamed milk. If that’s not to your taste, grab a twist on the hot cocoa with a Warm Molé Eggnog, a combination of royal house molé, cinnamon, nutmeg, whole egg and steamed milk.
- Address: 916 G St NW, Washington, DC 20001
If choice is what you are looking for then Urban Roast has you covered. Not only do they have a winter menu of s’mores, but there are five different hot cocoa options.
Choose between your standard hot cocoa, Peppermint Hot Chocolate, Salted Caramel Chocolate, White Hot Chocolate or Coconut Hot Chocolate.
If you’d like a little espresso with your chocolate, try the Toasted Marshmallow Latte, Chocolate Peppermint Mocha or S’more Amore Mocha. All will satisfy your sweet tooth.
More Hot Chocolate in Washington, D.C.
- Address: 3221 Mount Pleasant St NW, Washington, District Of Columbia 20010
Hot chocolate with a side of coffee art is something we will never say no to, especially when at Elle with the kids. Grab your hot cocoa with a side of blueberry ginger scones or a hand pie to fill you up as you chat with friends.
The line is worth it to get in the door and order, so don’t be dissuaded.
Cafe Unido Coffee at La Cosecha
- Address: La Cosecha, 1280 4th St NE, Washington, DC 20002
I love this little coffee shop in La Cosecha, the latin food hall around the corner from Union Market, because it has a pretty basic hot chocolate that will satisfy my kids, and killer coffee creations for me.
Order an Orange Raspadura Latte. It sounds weird, but the taste is perfection. Not too sweet and not too bitter. The burst of orange zest really balances it out too.
- Address: 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003
Like everything else at Little Pearl, their hot chocolate is delicious and a must, especially if you are visiting with children. Enjoy a cup to go or linger on the patio.
Un Je Ne Sais Quoi
- Address: 1361 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
A bakery that serves up Valrhona Hot Chocolate to keep you warm on cold winter days. Just don’t forget to order pastries too!
A Baked Joint
- Address: 430 K St NW, Washington, DC 20001
If you can get past all of the bread on display, you will see hot chocolate on the menu, with a variety of milk options including soy, almond and oat.
The Wydown Coffee Bar
- Address: 1924 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Hot chocolate is on the menu, but coffee is the main attraction.
- Address: 4828 MacArthur Blvd NW, Washington, DC 20007
While Momo’s Cafe doesn’t serve the traditional hot cocoa we know and love, they do offer a cocoa milk tea that will give you the two things you crave- tea and chocolate.
- Address: 923 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
Dua Coffee serves one of the more budget-friendly hot chocolates in Washington, D.C. Alternative milks are available for an additional fee, including oat, almond and soy milks.
Three Fifty Bakery and Coffee Bar
- Address: 1926 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
I’ve been popping into Three Fifty Bakery before I get my haircut in Adams Morgan ever since I moved to DC. I always grab a coffee or hot chocolate and a slice of their perfect banana bread. I am very picky about my banana bread, since I have a killer recipe, and theirs comes very close.
Check out the rest of the pastry section, as almost anything in there will satisfy your hunger while you warm up with a hot beverage.
- Address: 201 F St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Locals (and visitors) flock to Ebenezers for the honey lavender latte, but have no fear, this DC coffee shop has hot chocolate, frozen hot chocolate and white chocolate steamers.
No matter what you order, we are sure you will go away with a caffeine buzz, or a sugar high.
- Address: multiple locations
- 1333 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
- 82 I St SE, Washington, DC 20003
Breakfast tacos and smoked salmon toast may be what draws you in, but the hot chocolate made with dark chocolate from TCHO in San Francisco and steamed milk is what will keep you warm long after you walk out the door.
Pssst… it goes well with their brown-butter chocolate chip cookies too.
- Address: Multiple locations
- 1710 I St NW, Washington, DC 20006
- La Colombe Coffee Roasters, 1346 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009
- 201 M St NE, Washington, DC 20002
- 924 Blagden Alley NW, Washington, DC 20001
- 900 6th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
The Philadelphia coffee chain doesn’t forget about its chocolate lovers. You can grab a hot cocoa at La Colombe, but if you love coffee, go for that instead.
- Address: multiple locations
- 1309 5th St NE, Washington, DC 20002
- 660 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003
Like La Colombe, Peregrine’s main game is coffee, but they do make a lovely hot chocolate if you need one in a pinch.
Washington, D.C. Chocolate Shops to Grab Hot Cocoa
- Address: Union Station, 50 Massachusetts Ave NE, Ste 18, Washington, DC 20002
If you are running through Union Station, or have a little time to wander, make sure you stop into the Hotel Chocolate.
Not only do they give out free samples, but they also serve hot chocolate in a few flavors you might not see anywhere else. Make sure to ask what your options are before you blindly order “a small hot chocolate” to go.
- Address: 1280 4th St NE, Washington, DC 20002
This DC chocolate shop is better known for their chocolate bars, truffles and bon bons, but those in the know will tell you that there is a hot chocolate machine constantly churning their decadent liquid cocoa so you can pop in for a cup to go.
One review on Yelp even said that “it tasted like a liquid chocolate bar! I was in heaven.”
Make your own Washington DC Hot Chocolate at Home
Sometimes you just can’t get out but still want that taste of a Washington DC chocolate shop at home. Here are just a few of the best chocolate shops in Washington, D.C. that sell hot cocoa mix in their store and online.
- The Chocolate House
- Address: 1904 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
- Chocolate Chocolate
- Address:1130 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
- L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates
- Address: 1319 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007