Thai-spiced hot chocolate from Alma

For the Purists 

Courier Coffee Roasters

In this supremely eccentric coffee shop, a posse of disarmingly friendly, bike-riding baristas sweat the details of Portland’s defining hot chocolate. Some swirl, others stir. Head honcho Joel Domreis frets about “the turbulence of the milk.” The preoccupations pay off, as the combination of preheated cups, made-to-order rigor, and piercing Grand Cru Felchlin chocolate morph into a drink that balances ingredients like a Tom Wolfe sentence—each sip is light but deep, with only a back note of sweetness.

Most Creative Menu

Alma Chocolate

Alma anticipates your various chocolaty needs with multifaceted drink options. You can wallow in a shot of pure melted chocolate, revel in warm spices, add a nutty blaze of homemade hazelnut paste, or chomp through a chunky, cinnamon-fuming sea of chocolate and chopped almonds. In Alma’s world, even jasmine tea meditates in a mug of drinking chocolate. The sweet shop’s Thai Coconut Cup is the life-changer: it bundles the spicy glow of Pok Pok’s wings with the joy of a candy bar in a steamy paradise of coconut milk, dark Bolivian chocolate, milk chocolate ganache, chile kick, lime, and ginger insanity. 

Pure, Lip-Tingling Luxury

Xico’s Habanero Caramel Drinking Chocolate

On the road to engineering the year’s most wickedly delicious sip, Xico pastry chef Mindy Keith recruited an unlikely cast of ingredients: smoked chocolate from Woodblock’s R&D lab, local hot peppers pummeled into ear-warming glory, and caramel sauce cooked to the razor’s edge of darkness. They all meet in a heady cup of chocolate craft, impressively nuanced, and more intense than Christian Bale. Each sip is a bilevel experience—warm heat below, a cool drift of cream barely whipped to a sensuous lather on top. The whole thing is a contradictory pleasure, rustic and high-minded, hot and cold; a deep satisfaction. Find the recipe, including the mezcal-spiked version, right here

Best Argument to Sip Your Dessert

Cacao’s Drinking Chocolate Pour-Over (with Salt & Straw Olive Oil Ice Cream)

At last, a drink that embodies the Portland food dream: ice cream revered like the Buddha, small-batch candied cocoa nibs, and drinking chocolate that pierces the deepest pleasure centers. It’s your own private buffet of decadence, as imagined only by a first-rate chocolate shop. Pour Cacao’s churned chocolate all over Salt & Straw’s suave olive oil ice cream, then pile on the “Craque”—glazed clusters of cocoa nibs from playful Portland chocolatier Cocanu. The sensation is fantastically rich, bitter, and crackling all at once. Or spoon a little ice cream into your demitasse and alternate sips with munches of Craque, like a happier version of happy hour’s booze and peanuts. 

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Salt & Straw Ice Cream

$ Dessert Multiple Locations

Cousins Kim and Tyler Malek tapped the local spirit of craft, collaboration, and crazy flavors to challenge expectations of what an ice cream parlor might lo...

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Cacao

$ Dessert Multiple Locations

Drink a little bit of heaven at this decadent chocolate shop in Portland's West End on SW 13th Ave, serving steamy mugs of hot cocoa, drinking chocolate, and the city's widest selection of craft chocolate bars.

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Xico

$$$ Mexican 3715 SE Division St

Oaxaca is represented at Xico—but so is Oregon: playful notes, purist notions, and fresh-ground masa fill out a room that feels like a beach hut with pearls....

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Pok Pok

$$ Thai 3226 SE Division

From its bare-bones beginning as a takeout shack, Pok Pok has grown into a full-on eating experience, while owner Andy Ricker has earned a reputation as the ...

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Alma Chocolate

$ Dessert, Market Multiple Locations

Sure, habanero is another entry in the flavored-caramel trend, but owner Sarah Hart’s version mixes hot and cool—literally—with chiles and cream. A former gr...

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Courier Coffee Roasters

$ Bakery, Coffee 923 SW Oak

Simple but powerful pour-over coffee from some of the best beans in the city are the main feature at this no-frills coffee shop on SW Oak St.