Five spots for a hot chocolate warm-up
Angel Food Bakery (1636 W Montrose Ave, 773-728-1512)
Chef-owner Stephanie Samuels imports chocolate from Spain for her super-thick Barthelona hot chocolate (spelled that way in homage to the lispy pronunciation by locals), which is then topped with vanilla-bean whipped cream. It’s available in regular and “short” size, meaning kids can have a sweet treat without starting to bounce off the walls. (Parents can go the opposite route with the Shot In the Dark: the same hot chocolate plus a dose of espresso.)
XOCO (449 N Clark St, 312-334-3688)
Though some of Rick Bayless’s complex hot cocoas are more adult-oriented, the Classic (with two-percent milk) and Ultra (with whole milk) are like delicious chocolate soups. (Tip: Avoid lines by stopping in during wait-free breakfast, served until 10am.)
HotChocolate (1747 N Damen Ave, 773-489-1747)
Chef-owner Mindy Segal doesn’t disappoint when it comes to her restaurant’s namesake, creating seven varieties of hot chocolate, ranging from light (milk chocolate) to medium (with a dollop of caramel) to dark, and including twists like the Black and Tan, which is part hot chocolate, part hot fudge. Skip sceney dinnertime in favor of laid-back, family-friendly brunch, served Saturdays and Sundays.
Bittersweet (1114 W Belmont Ave, 773-929-1100)
Pastry maven Judy Contino extends her talents to a single kind of hot chocolate, made from melting chocolate with a barely-there touch of orange zest and cinnamon.
Julius Meinl (3601 N Southport Ave, 773-868-1857. 4363 N Lincoln Ave, 773-868-1876. 1416 W Irving Park Rd, 773-883-1864.)
Since this Austrian coffeehouse is an expert in coffee and tea, it’s no surprise it makes great hot chocolate, too, using imported cocoa and steamed milk. For a taste of the holidays, try the peppermint variation.