10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway
Charlotte, NC 28277
The Ballantyne’s annual Hot Chocolate & Toddies event is a highlight of the holiday season. Take a seat in the hotel’s welcoming lobby, where harpist Mark Willis plays seasonal music, and enjoy a ceramic mug filled with your choice of dark or white hot chocolate, topped with homemade whipped cream and red and green sugar sprinkles. Then, if you like, add a quality liqueur—perhaps Frangelico, Baileys or Godiva—for your own toddy. Priced at $6 per mug, $9 with liqueur, your hot chocolate comes with a gingerbread man, mini marshmallows and a candy cane. Hot chocolate and toddies are available Friday to Sunday, through December 29, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Before or after your cup of chocolate, browse Gingerbread Lane, the Ballantyne’s annual gingerbread house competition, and vote for your favorite ($1 per vote) with proceeds benefiting the Levine Children’s Hospital.
The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte
201 E. Trade St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
Bar Cocoa, located in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton in Center City, is known for its delicious chocolate creations and desserts of all kinds. The Bar Cocoa café and the Lobby Lounge at the Ritz offer a variety of food and beverage choices all day and well into the evening, including hot chocolate made with Valrhona Manjari chocolate, using rare cocoa beans sourced from Madagascar, topped with house-made marshmallows. For an indulgent experience, make reservations for the Chocolate Afternoon Tea, available year-round in the Lobby Lounge ($32 for adults, $12 for children under 12; includes valet parking) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring tea sandwiches and desserts from Bar Cocoa, plus your choice of hot chocolate or teas. Through December 29, the lobby will be decked with elaborate holiday decorations, including an eight-foot French macaron holiday tree and a four-foot sugar sleigh, pulled by a team of chocolate reindeer.
4620 Piedmont Row Drive, Suite 100
Charlotte NC 28210
Located in Piedmont Town Center, the family-owned Cast Iron Waffles is a coffee shop with a difference. In addition to a full menu of espresso-based drinks made with Fair Trade and Farm Direct coffees, the shop offers Belgian Liege waffles made using an authentic recipe dating back to the 18th century. The brioche-style dough is made fresh daily, then infused with imported Belgian pearl sugar and cooked in a 100-pound cast iron waffle press, yielding a caramelized sweet unlike any other waffle around. Many customers feel the perfect accompaniment for a Belgian waffle is hot chocolate, another Belgian specialty. Owners Krista and Chris Duggan make theirs with Ghirardelli chocolate and steamed milk, topped with homemade whipped cream. A second Cast Iron Waffles is located at Cedar Walk in Ballantyne.
1235-A East Blvd.
Charlotte, NC 28209
Part of the region’s growing tribe of chocolatiers, Davidson Chocolate is a family-run affair hand-crafting truffles, turtles, fudge and other confections, all made with no fillers, paraffin or preservatives. John and Sue Elliott began making chocolates at their Davidson location, located in the Davidson Commons Shopping Center on Jetton Street, in 2008, and have since expanded with a store in the heart of Dilworth, in the Kenilworth Commons Shopping Center. At both shops, along with display cases filled with a wide variety of chocolate treats perfect for gift giving, you’ll find the Elliott’s homemade hot chocolate, a combination of milk and dark chocolates, perfect for a cold winter’s day.
2820 Selwyn Ave., Suite 160
Charlotte, NC 28209
A wine and chocolate tasting room in the heart of Myers Park, Petit Philippe is the work of husband-and-wife team Mark Meissner and Casey Hickey. Mark is in charge of the more than 1,000 different wines from around the world available for tasting, while Casey, a graduate of the Ecole Chocolat, makes the chocolates and other confections. Under the brand name Twenty Degrees Chocolates, a nod to the fact that cocoa trees only grow within 20 degrees latitude of the equator, she crafts small-batch chocolates using premium cocoas from around the world, including “single plantation” chocolate from the mountains of Peru and the finest French and Swiss blends, combining them with natural ingredients and flavors. This winter at Petit Philippe, Casey is serving a thick, full-bodied American-style hot chocolate, as well as several flavors of European-style sipping chocolate that will be made to order.
Related: Best Chocolate Cake In Charlotte
With 15 years of experience covering restaurants in Charlotte and the Carolinas, and two regional guidebooks under her belt, Renee Wright examines the dining scene with enthusiasm plus a deep knowledge of food trends and outstanding local eating ops. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.