Don’t be that Valentine. You know, the one who rushes to the pharmacy at 5:30 on February 14, desperately hoping there’s a heart-shaped box of something left on the shelves. It’s not a good look. Instead, head (early-ish) to one of these chocolate shops around town and pick up some sweets as special as your special someone.
2003 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; 703-635-7917; 506 John Carlyle St., Alexandria; 703-575-8686
You can get plenty of handmade truffles and caramels from owner-artist Eric Nelson and chocolatier Rob Kingsbury in the Alexandria and Del Ray locations of this shop. Flavors include creative French Champagne and tiramisu as well as classic truffles and sugar cremes. For a more interactive chocolate gift, choose the Alexandria location’s chocolate-and-wine-pairing class (the next one is February 21), which is purchasable as a gift ($60 per person).
Price: $24 for a 12-piece box.
1025 N. Fillmore St., Arlington; 703-524-0007
Local chocolatier Jason Adelman creates colorful confections your modern-art-loving valentine will adore. Truffles in flavors such as port wine and fig and salted butter caramel (our favorite) are decorated in bright colors and groovy designs. Note for all the amorous allergy folks out there: Most items are gluten-free, and there are some vegan options.
Price: $18 for a nine-piece box (with a pick-your-own option).
1130 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-466-2190
This doubly named downtown shop has been helping Washington pick out Valentine’s chocolates since the shop opened more than 25 years ago. Treats from well-known chocolatiers such as Neuhaus and Lake Champlain arrive in festive wrapping; you can also profess monumental affection with a series of Capitol Dome or Lincoln Memorial treats. Old-school chocolate lovers will appreciate the shop’s classic collections, which include rich buttercreams, pecan turtles, and mint meltaways.
Price: Varies by producer.
929 F St., NW; 202-347-4265
This chocolate-themed Penn Quarter lounge and attached boutique go way beyond the chocolate bar (though plenty of those can be found, too). Seasonal items like cocoa Champagne corks filled with Perrier Jouet, strips of chocolate-covered bacon, and his-and-hers heart-shaped boxes filled with artisanal treats are among the many finds.
Price: $40 for a 16-piece box.
1904 18th St., NW; 202-328-1506
You’ll find close to 100 varieties of truffles and chocolates from a variety of acclaimed producers such as Michel Cluizel and Vosges as well as locally based chocolatiers including Co Co. Sala and Artisan Confections. Feeling a bit lost with all the choices? Another gift option is one of the chocolate-tasting workshops, which range from beginner to master.
Price: Varies by producer.
Cordial Fine Wine
1309 Fifth St., NE, Unit 2
Pair chocolate and vino at this boutique wine shop, the newest addition to Union Market. Founder Eric Rohleder specially selected a red, white, and sweet Italian wine to pair with truffle gift boxes from MC2 Confections; get a 5 percent discount on the bottle when you purchase both. Two themed chocolate collections—Je T’aime and Passione—feature four truffles in flavors like ganache infused with tart cherries or sweet red wine from Piedmont.
Price: $9.25 for a box of four truffles.
3235 P St., NW; 724 Jefferson St., Alexandria; 202-465-4368
Husband-and-wife team Ashley Hubbard and Robert Ludlow are behind the sister chocolate boutiques in Georgetown and Alexandria, where truffle flavors range from classic (raspberry) to exotic (lavender-Shiraz). Have a honey who hails from elsewhere? Regionally themed chocolate bars, like the hickory-caramel-and-bacon-studded South Bar, make fun and thoughtful gifts.
Price: $7.50 for bars; $18 for a nine-piece box.
1781 Florida Ave., NW; 202-518-2570
There’s more going on in this cafe than just chocolate (consider including breakfast or lunch in your shopping spree), but there’s plenty of that, too. Pastry chef Niel Piferoen, a Citronelle vet, and wife Ada offer an array of treats to go, including Belgian-style truffles, bars, and passionfruit, pistachio, coffee, and other flavored chocolates.
Price: $20 and up for a 12-piece box of chocolates.
1781 Florida Ave., NW; 202-558-5224
If your valentine loves drinking chocolate, head to the new shop from the Pleasant Pops food truck guys for “hot chocolate pops” in flavors such as Mexican chocolate and salted caramel (just swirl them in warm milk and you have a dreamy beverage). The shop also carries a variety of locally made products, like cocoa bars and boxes of truffles from Arlington-based Double Premium Confections.
Price: $4.50 for two pops; $9.50 for a box of five truffles.
4611 Sangamore Rd., Bethesda; 301-229-8180
You can pick up more sweets than just chocolates at this bakery and cafe, also known for its cakes, fruit tarts, and cookies. For a traditional gift, customizable boxes are available to fill with colorful Key lime, raspberry, salted almond caramel, and exotic-fruit-filled chocolates.
Price: $17 for a 12-piece box.
2461 S. Clark St., Arlington; 703-418-2000
There are branches of this chocolate shop around the country, but all the chocolates are made on the premises at the Crystal City shop. Piece together your own box with more than 70 varieties of chocolates, which include flavors like cheesecake, orange truffle, and Jamaican rum. Special dietary options include kosher, vegan, sugar-free, and low-carb sweets; there’s also chocolate body paint, if that’s what you’re into.
Price: $16 for a 15-piece box.
2118 14th St., NW; 202-986-7332
The Pennsylvania farm store carries old-school boxes of chocolates, and we don’t mean retro like a Spud Bar. Containers filled with the likes of salted caramels and peanut-butter-filled chocolates arrive from Miesse Candies in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which has been operating since 1875 and still utilizes a number of old timey techniques and equipment.
Price: $11.99 for a half-pound box (around 15 pieces).
1743 L St., NW; 202-463-0992
“Serving weirdly sophisticated Washingtonians” is the slogan on the website of this 35-year-old gift gallery, which is a fantastic one-stop shop for those looking to pick up a card, a funky gift—anything from jewelry and DC-themed cufflinks to marijuana-shaped potholders (get it?)—and chocolates from producers such as Vosges and Leonidas. A sweet favorite is chewy chocolate turtles.
Price: $18 for a pound of turtles.