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Where to Find the Best Mexican Hot Chocolate in L.A. this Winter

Photo by Virali Dave.

[dropcap size=big]H[/dropcap]ot chocolate season is upon us friends, and the watery “cocoa” from your local grocery store or café just won’t do. We’re feeling a bit more spice this season, and in our quests to stay warm, we also want to satisfy our taste buds with cups of hot chocolate that do the season justice. Lucky for us, in Southern California, options abound well beyond dry packets of Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate mix. 

In search of said options, we tried Mexican hot chocolates around the city, specifically Oaxacan hot chocolates when we could find some. Traditionally, Oaxacan hot chocolate is made with more than just sugar, chocolate, and milk; there’s plenty of cinnamon added in and then a molinillo works its magic to turn the whole concoction into a frothy cup of joy. You might also find some toasted almonds for your hot chocolate base. While you’re very much able to find the traditional version in L.A., there are variants that deviate from the norm and include vanilla, cardamom, and if you’re lucky, a pinch of cayenne as well.


Photo by Virali Dave.
Photo by Virali Dave.

At Guelaguetza, an L.A. classic, hot chocolate is made with milk or water and mixed with tablets imported from Oaxaca. You’ll notice the taste of sugar, cinnamon, and almonds in your cup. Co-owner Bricia Lopez points out that the Chocolate de Agua, which is more traditional, allows the taste of the chocolate to shine through a bit more, but the Chocolate de Leche has a creaminess that works best for cold days. Cups are frothy and made at your table.

3014 W Olympic Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90006.

Gish Bac

Another L.A. staple, Gish Bac sticks to the script and makes their hot chocolate with milk, cinnamon, and chocolate, offering chocolate de agua instead of chocolate de leche for those looking for a lactose-free option. As all good hot chocolate tends to be, your cup will be warm and satisfying.

4163 W Washington Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90018. 

Cacao Mexicatessen

Photo courtesy of Cacao Mexicatessen.
Photo courtesy of Cacao Mexicatessen.

What better place for hot chocolate than a spot called Cacao? Cacao’s hot chocolate is also straight-forward in terms of spice, but is much frothier, thicker, and creamier than the hot chocolate at Gish Bac or Guelaguetza, and includes toasted almonds on top. Folks looking for more oomph can order Abuelita’s Mocha Latte, also made with Oaxacan chocolate.

1576 Colorado Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90041.

La Monarca

Photo courtesy of La Monarca.
Photo courtesy of La Monarca.

La Monarca, which has a dozen locations in and around L.A., is probably best known for their delicious pastries and cafe and olla, but their hot chocolates are worth a try too. The Mexican Hot Chocolate is made with brown sugar and cinnamon, and the blended iced version is perfect for warmer days.

Various locations.

La Terraza CaféPhoto courtesy of La Terraza.La Terrraza pre-makes their Oaxacan hot chocolate mix, allowing for spices to steep longer and the result is a cup that with a strong and indulgent flavor. The cafe makes their Oaxacan hot chocolate with whole milk that is high in fat, so drink it quickly as the drink tends to thicken a little unpleasantly as it cools, with fat rising to the top. But as hot as the cup may be, it’ll be hard not to drink quickly; La Terraza’s hot chocolate is best I’ve tried, perfectly sweetened with cinnamon and plenty of cayenne to add a kick to the back of your throat. And if you're lucky, your barista might throw in a stick of cinnamon into your cup, too.

4017 City Terrace Dr. Los Angeles, CA 90063.

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