Several days ago, my summer reflexes took over as my little one and I were driving on Waukegan Road in Glenview. We passed one of my favorite ice cream shops, and despite the 50-something-degree air, vanilla in a cone seemed like a really good idea. (Wouldn’t you know it, my child agreed.)
Lucky for us, three storefronts down sits one of my favorite coffee houses. We stopped in and walked out with a more seasonally appropriate treat: two cups of rich hot chocolate with perfect spoonfuls of whipped cream on top. And so began a weeklong tour of hot cocoa in the northern suburbs. Here are our top three picks, scientifically approved by both mom and kid.
989 Waukegan Road, Glenview
Choose from dark (my favorite), milk or white chocolate and enjoy this rich hot cocoa that would be perfect on a crisp autumn walk. All three variations are wonderfully sweet without being cloying. My first thought after my first sip: This just might be the quintessential hot cocoa.
Bonus: the “Lil Glen Cocoa” is just $1.99.
1348 Shermer Road, Northbrook
If you’ve seen the movie “Chocolat” with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, you might remember the scene where Judi Dench’s character stirs up some seriously sinful drinking chocolate. I’m basically absolutely certain that the hot chocolate served at Leonidas Chocolate Cafe is how the hot chocolate in the movie would taste––decadent, indulgent and almost like you should feel guilty (alas, you likely won’t). At Leonidas, hot chocolate is not a singular idea. Choose from extreme dark, triple chocolate, Mexican, java milk, java mocha, mont blanc and salted caramel. Prices range from $4.15 to $5.20 (it’s worth it).
Bonus: Pick up a few beautiful Belgian chocolates filled with everything from lemon cream to hazelnuts.
1823 Saint Johns Ave., Highland Park
This casual cafe in downtown Highland Park serves up fresh breakfast and lunch fare––just make sure you order hot chocolate to go with it. Perfectly steamed and made with the optimal amount of cocoa, it’s a delectable treat that isn’t too rich.
Bonus: Try––I dare you––to leave the place without ordering a scoop of fresh gelato, the dessert that knows just how to go from summer to winter and back again.