It’s believed that some 3,500 years ago, the ancient Olmecs of Mesoamerica began harvesting cacao beans. Generations later, their knowledge was passed along to the Maya Civilization, who revered the cacao bean, as well as its final products—cocoa beans and chocolate. In the millennia since Mesoamerican civilizations thrived in South and Central America, chocolate has remained a delicacy, in addition to the ceremonial consumption of chocolate drinks. Of course, we don’t drink cacao beverages as an offering to the gods. But we do consume hot chocolate to usher in the changing of seasons. With winter just around the corner, there’s no better way to embrace the holiday season than with an age-old tradition. And lucky for you, the Garden State has some of the best hot cocoa around. From tasty family favorites to warm winter cocktails, here are 9 spots to get hot chocolate in New Jersey.
1. The Asbury Park Roastery
Asbury Park, NJ
Believe it or not, wintry weather on the Jersey Shore is a beautiful experience. The familiar sights of crashing waves and collecting seashells remind you that freezing temperatures don’t last forever. That said, there’s never a moment more appropriate to enjoy a seaside hot chocolate from The Asbury Park Roastery. This holiday season, cozy up with a cup of traditional hot cocoa, peppermint hot chocolate or hot cocoa with espresso—and top it off with marshmallows or whipped cream.
Montclair & Ridgewood, NJ
Everyone loves Raymond’s, and it’s for good reason. With locations in Montclair and Ridgewood, this local favorite is revered for its french toast, pancakes and Wednesday night fried chicken special. Nonetheless, Raymond’s hot chocolate with marshmallow—marshmallow being the operative word in this beverage—takes the cake for best item on the menu. Prepare to revel in the gooey delight of co-owner Joanne Ricci’s homemade marshmallows when you purchase one of the best hot chocolates in New Jersey.
3. Rooftop at Exchange Place & Milk Sugar Love
Jersey City, NJ
Emma Taylor, owner of the local ice cream shop Milk Sugar Love, teamed up with Rooftop at Exchange Place in 2019 to bring Jersey City residents a splendid winter cocktail. Their invention—“Local Girl Makes Good Hot Cocoa”—was a heavenly cup of hot chocolate topped with chocolate chip cookie, Madagascar vanilla bean marshmallow and fudge brownie. And for an extra kick, patron’s could add their choice of Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur, Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur or Godiva Milk Chocolate Liqueur. However, this is a seasonal menu item, so keep your fingers crossed that it makes a return this winter. That said, you can always head over to the Milk Sugar Love location for a delicious cup of hot chocolate, as well as a vanilla bean marshmallow.
4. Turning Point
Hoboken, Princeton & More, NJ
Turning Point is a New Jersey staple with 12 locations throughout the state, as well as spots in Pennsylvania and Delaware. However, each and every one of the locations has some of the tastiest hot chocolate in New Jersey. Specializing in breakfast, brunch and lunch, this eatery offers all sorts of beverages, from “shakes & smoothies” to “heavenly hot chocolates.” Dazzle the kids with s’mores hot chocolate, layered with toasted marshmallow syrup, whipped cream and crushed graham crackers. Or take a walk down memory lane with a traditional hot chocolate topped with whipped cream.
5. Ariane Kitchen & Bar
North Jersey’s Ariane Kitchen and Bar is dishing out some of the tastiest—and booziest—hot chocolate of the season. Spiked with green Chartreuse French liqueur, this cup of hot cocoa is guaranteed to warm your belly and your heart. Plus, top your cocktail off with Ariane Kitchen and Bar’s homemade whipped cream for a sugary delight.
6. The Bent Spoon
The Bent Spoon may be an artisanal ice cream shop, but it’s also one of the best spots to get hot chocolate in New Jersey. Order the classic hot chocolate, made with 61% fair trade chocolate, for a rich and creamy texture. Or, expand your palette with more adventurous flavors, such as the coconut or habanero hot chocolates. Whatever you choose, it’s bound to be delicious.
7. Carpe Diem
Seize the day with yet another boozy rendition of your favorite winter beverage. Located on Grand Street in Hoboken, this pub and restaurant is serving up a traditional cup of hot chocolate with a twist—Kahlua. With some extra chocolate flavor, and just the right amount of alcohol, Kahlua is the perfect addition to your cup of hot cocoa. Head on over to Carpe Diem for good eats and a warm winter cocktail.
Just east of Philly in the township of Collingswood, NJ is Grooveground Coffee Bar (which also doubles as a hot chocolate bar). Here, variety is everything, with “seven flavors of pure happiness” to appease your taste buds. Which one will you choose: Raspberry Cheesecake, Chestnut Praline, Peppermint Bark, Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter Cup, Mexican or S’more?
9. Toast City Diner
Montclair, Asbury Park & Red Bank, NJ
Toast may have three locations, but its mantra is simple: “Peace, Love and Pancakes.” Head on over to Montclair, Asbury Park or Red Bank to devour some dynamite red velvet pancakes and wash ‘em down with a mug of delicious hot cocoa—complete with whipped cream and a cookie. And if you’re lucky, you might just rub shoulders with Toast’s vibrant owner and local restaurateur, Amy Russo Harrigan.