Tried and Tasted: We’ll drink to that!

In pursuit of the ultimate hot chocolate.

Hot chocolate 521 (photo credit: Amy Spiro)
Hot chocolate 521
(photo credit: Amy Spiro)
Hot chocolate. Two words and, ostensibly, two ingredients: Hot milk and chocolate, mixed together and emulsified into a thick, creamy liquid that is the ultimate chocolate-lover’s dream. Of course, across Jerusalem there is great variation in price, ratios, temperatures and – for those places that insist on messing with a classic – ingredients.
Though the higher-end beverages seem seriously overpriced for what they contain, the lowest-priced options were the most disappointing and likely contained no real chocolate at all. Luckily, there are still many options around the city for picking up a delicious, chocolatey drink, perfect for warming you up from the inside-out this winter.
All establishments visited are kosher or have kosher branches.
Babette: A
I had never even heard of this little place until a coworker recommended it – and boy, do I owe her! A veritable shrine to all things chocolate, Babette has a limited menu and a strong attitude about what it is and is not. It serves a variety of hot drinks, as well as Belgian waffles with a wide range of toppings. With no real tables, plates or cutlery, Babette is only for those who are not afraid to get chocolate all over their fingers. Handwritten signs adorn the restaurant stating, “Things we don’t have: Bathrooms, forks, seating upstairs or anything low fat” and “We’re open until 2 but only friendly until 1:30.” Of course, let’s not forget the main event: The hot chocolate is rich, chocolatey and so thick, it sticks to the sides of the cup. Drinking this is as close to drinking melted chocolate as you can get, and you’ll drain your cup to the very last drop. NIS 12/14
16 Shamai Street
Bleecker Bakery: A
With a cute little storefront in the center of town, Bleecker has a pretty extensive menu, but luckily it doesn’t skimp on its hot chocolate. Made with disks of milk chocolate, you stir the drink yourself to mix them with the hot milk. It arrived at the perfect temperature, not too sweet and topped with some frothed milk, which I don’t really think has a place on hot chocolate, though others may disagree. NIS 18
3 Luntz Street
Ne’eman Bakery: B+
This ubiquitous cafe wins the value-for-money award, with an uber chocolatey drink for an excellent price.
Though it’s based on powder and syrup, there is a ton of flavor and a rich texture as well. It arrived piping hot, just borderline drinkable. NIS 12 to sit/NIS 6.90 to go.
Various locations throughout Jerusalem
Cafe Hillel: B+
This large chain offers a classic hot chocolate – both regular and with white chocolate. You stir the hot milk and chocolate together yourself, resulting in a rich, chocolatey, if ultimately unmemorable, drink. NIS 18.
Various locations throughout Jerusalem
Tal Bagels: B+
Purportedly a bagel store, Tal Bagels is really more of an overpriced cafe, where a bagel and cream cheese can set you back NIS 22. So it comes as no surprise that the two hot chocolate options – shokopelet and shokochino – are both at the most expensive end of any beverages I tried. The former is a hot chocolate, and the latter is hot cocoa topped with whipped cream, both of which are tasty and indulgent choices. NIS 18
46 Emek Refaim Street
Cup o’ Joe: B+
Though it’s served in a large glass, the cup at Cup o’ Joe was still too full to adequately stir the drink, which is necessary to mix the chocolate and syrup with the hot milk. Even so, it was very rich, with a strong chocolate flavor, and needed just a minute or two to cool down to a drinkable temperature. NIS 14/18
13 Yad Harutzim Street and 38 Keren Hayesod Street
Aroma: B
Aroma is another cafe chain that serves a “stir-it-yourself” hot chocolate, but this was underwhelmingly chocolatey, a little thin and not quite hot enough. The regular hot chocolate is made with hot milk, chocolate, cocoa and frothed milk, and there is also an option to add a marshmallow. I do award them extra points for serving each drink with a small piece of chocolate next to the cup. NIS 15
Various locations throughout Jerusalem
Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf: B
For a place that boasts an impressive range of drinks both hot and cold, I had high hopes for Coffee Bean’s hot chocolate offering. Unfortunately, I was not too impressed, especially when I swallowed several lumps of undissolved cocoa powder in my drink, on top of the fact that true hot chocolate should have no powder at all. The temperature was just right, and I appreciated the low sweetness level – I’d rather add more sugar than have too much. Ultimately, the not-so-impressive drink was marred further by truly terrible service – a function of having competent but far too few wait staff. NIS 15/17
34 Jaffa Road
Big Apple Pizza: C
A pizza shop may not be the obvious place for a cup of hot chocolate, but it’s on the menu and the price is right.
Unfortunately, it was about the only thing that was right.
The hot chocolate that I received was so hot I couldn’t hold it in the paper cup for more than a few seconds, let alone drink it without burning my tongue. A full 20 minutes later (yes I timed it), the drink was still too hot to comfortably enjoy. Once it finally cooled down to a drinkable temperature, it was still a disappointment, with a fairly weak chocolate flavor and thin consistency. NIS 9
Four locations in Jerusalem
Holy Bagel: C
Another bagel store graces this list, but unfortunately this one was very much a disappointment.
The hot chocolate was very thin, without much chocolate flavor, more like hot chocolate milk than true hot chocolate.
It was only after ordering that I saw – in very small print and only in Hebrew – that it is based on powder, not chocolate. NIS 8/10
Various locations throughout Jerusalem