Valentine’s Day is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can be fun and romantic. On the other hand, it can be stressful and expensive. What do you get for your significant other? Flowers? A fancy dinner? Theatre tickets?
While none of those are bad options, I’m a firm believer in the simple power of chocolate. It’s one of those timeless gifts that never fails to please. And it’s possible to find something really impressive without going broke in the process.
And, lucky for you, New York City has some of the best chocolatiers in the world (Suck it, Paris!)
What follows, in no particular order, are a few of my favorites.
484 Broome Street
212-925-6999 ext 1
Maribel Lieberman’s flagship chocolate boutique in Soho produces some of the highest quality chocolate not just in the city but in the world. She’s garnered accolades from the likes of Oprah Winfrey, who included Maribel’s confections in one of her “Oprah’s Favorite Things” giveaways. The shop on Broome Street is strikingly beautiful as are the delicate chocolates it offers. The 10 Piece Chocolate Ganache set sells for only $16 and perennial (and personal) favorite the New York Caramel Collection is a mere $32.
40 8th Avenue at Jane Street
Professing to be New York’s oldest chocolate house, Li-Lac has moved around some in the past few years. But that’s done nothing to affect the superb quality of the confections they produce. They have multiple locations but walking into their shop in the West Village is a special treat. The smell hits you even before you’re over the threshold and, before you can say cocoa, your wallet is empty and your stomach is full. But you won’t be complaining! The Chocolate Break Up is perfect for sharing, the Legendary Fudge lives up to its name and the specialty molds are jaw dropping. You can get an 8-inch Empire State Building for $20 or pick up A Statue of Liberty for $28.
103-02 Metropolitan Ave
The Aigner family is the embodiment of just how sweet the American Dream can really be. They immigrated here in the 1950’s and have been operating their chocolate shop in the beautiful Forest Hills neighborhood for more than 80 years. Are they old school? Yes. Is that a good thing? Hell. Yes! The whole store is a thrilling, nostalgic romp through your childhood dreams of what the perfect candy store would look like.
I’m a big fan of their chocolate covered pretzels and peanut butter cups (Reese’s has nothing on this family). But you can eat your way through one of their vintage display cases and still have a hard time picking just one or two favorites. So, bring your appetite and, as the German saying goes, “Schokoladenseite zeigen” (“Show your chocolate side”)!
Jacques Torres Chocolate
66 Water Street
You can’t have a conversation about NYC chocolatiers and not mention Jacques Torres. They call him Mr. Chocolate for a reason, after all. While there are multiple locations around the city, the flagship store on the Brooklyn waterfront is the one devotees flock to like famished pilgrims. And the place doesn’t disappoint. Calling it magical might seem hyperbolic, but only if you’ve never been there. The candies are legendary, the monstrous cookies melt in your mouth and the hot chocolate might be the best in the world. And it almost goes without saying that a heart shaped box of hand crafted chocolates from Jacques Torres is the quintessential NYC Valentine.