Not since Willy Wonka opened his chocolate factory and terrorized countless unsavory children have so many sweets been available to those who seek them. But you don't need a golden ticket or a jerky demeanor to enter this holy house of chocolate.
Crave-worthy treats stock shelves that stretch almost impossibly from floor to ceiling and further yonder. Large chocolate bars wrapped in gleaming paper, bags of different sizes crammed full with chocolate squares and tied with a bow and a variety of rich cocoas and seasonal items line the store's walls. It's an overwhelming assortment that draws in a constant bustle of shoppers, so be prepared to wait in line.
Though chocolate is its beating, healthy heart, Ghirardelli's complements its candy with a straight-out-of-the-50s soda fountain. Traditional plain Jane shakes, floats and ice cream sodas, though offered, are outdown by ice cream masterpieces like the Foghorn sundae, made with chocolate ice cream, homemade hot fudge sauce, raspberry topping and mint chocolate chips. If you have amazing willpower, you can request a single scoop, or bypass ice cream all together in favor of hot and cold drinks like the caramel latte or frozen white mocha.
Guests can enjoy their dessert at the counter or at one of the indoor or outdoor tables. No matter where you eat, stay true to one soda fountain tradition: Visit with that special someone and ask for one dessert, two spoons.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Albrey Nuss