Don’t Worry, Chocolate Is Good For You
If you have a serious love for chocolate, meaning real, high cocoa percentage, artisanal chocolate, then Portland is the place for you. With so many great small-batch chocolatiers in one little city, it’s a wonder the world’s chocolate-loving hoards haven’t overrun us yet. For now, you can relax and take a short tour through seven of the city’s best artisan chocolatiers.
1 – Alma
Alma, a relative newcomer to the Portland chocolate scene, operates out of a shop on Northeast Twenty-Eighth Avenue, next to iconic Portland bar Beulahland. Helmed by Sarah Hart, a “Rising Star” as named by the Next Generation Chocolatier Awards back in 2006, Alma has established itself as the best of the best that Portland has to offer serious chocolate lovers.
2 – Moonstruck
Pioneers of the local fancy chocolate scene, Moonstruck Chocolate Company built their reputation on truffles and with three retail locations in Portland: 608 Southwest Alder in the Pioneer Place Mall, on North Baltimore in St. Johns, and at Beaverton Town Square on Beaverton Hillsdale Highway, they are still going strong decades later.
3 – Cacao
Cacao, downtown on the corner of SW 13th and Stark, was established in 2006 as more of a retail shop than a chocolate producer. But, whatever, the curated selection of chocolate from around the world that greats you upon entering is absolutely mindblowing and includes many of the world’s best premium chocolate bars as well as house-made drinking chocolate and hot chocolate.
4 – Pitch Dark
The dark horse of the group, located well off the beaten path, just up the hill from the Laurelwood Public House on Northeast Sandy, Pitch Dark manages every aspect of their chocolate crafting process to insure that they are both tops in quality and cutting edge in their offerings.
5 – Creo Chocolate
Another off the beaten path shop, Creo Chocolate on Northeast Broadway between Grand and the Coliseum is more chocolate factory than chocolate shop, offering tours that allow patrons to make their own chocolate bar and relax in the factory’s café.
6 – Woodblock Chocolate
Wife and husband team Jessica and Charley Weelock had a dream that they would one day open a small artisan chocolate company on a side street in Southeast Portland, a dream they didn’t even know they had (according to their website). You can taste the fruits of that misplaced dream on the corner of Southeast Oak and Thirteenth, a block North of Revolution Hall.
7 – Xocolatl de David
Named one of the best chocolatiers in the United States by Bon Appetite, Portland’s own Xocolatl de David has been featured in multiple periodicals as well as a handful of foodie television shows. Known for pairing high percentage chocolate with other fantastic ingredients like bacon and marcona almonds, this chocolatier concentrates on creating and leaves the retailing to other folks like Cheese Bar, The City Market, Pine State Biscuits, Salt & Straw, and others in the area. Or you can just buy online.
Chocolate in the City of Roses
Portland and chocolate have not always been the best of friends. A town known first for salmon, second for wine, third for beer, and eventually for everything “foodie” had to come around someday, though. And now we live during the infancy of Portland’s chocolate scene, with a handful of dedicated artisans turning out fantastic product.
One imagines the market will flood with others trying to pursue the same dream, and the market (and Portland’s peevishness) will weed out those who have no business representing the city. The remainders will likely include many we’ve listed above and some glorious newcomers that we can’t wait to taste.
Until then, we still have more than we did twenty or so years ago when Moonstruck opened their first shop (now closed) on Northwest Twenty-Third Avenue, and with any luck, many more to come!