exploring chocolate in Vancouver

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is one sweet city. Gorgeous views and vistas at every turn. But how does it measure up on the chocolate scale? As someone who’s been scouring the world in search of the best chocolate since 2009, I felt compelled to thoroughly explore the chocolate scene in Vancouver and am pleased to report … it’s excellent!

Probably the best known chocolate company in Vancouver and through British Columbia is Purdys Chocolatier. The company was founded in Vancouver in 1907 and is still going strong, now with 84 locations across Canada the last time I checked.

canadian-chocolate

more great vancouver chocolate

Vancouver is also home to worldclass chocolatier, Thomas Haas, rated by some as Canada’s very best. I would definitely put this amazing chocolatier in the top tier in Canada.

best-vancouver-chocolate

Originally hailing from Germany, Thomas Haas has European training and experience to his credit, and combines his youth and creativity with traditional old-world flair to bring you an excellent assortment of European-style pastries as well as a scrumptious selection of chocolate bars, treats and truffles.

The bars have extremely creative packaging, taste fantastic and make an excellent gift grouped in six-packs for $33C. That’s just $5.50 a bar for quality that you’d pay $10/bar for at many of the finer chocolate houses around the world.

Now with two locations (the original at 128-998 Harbourside Drive in North Vancouver and a second location at 2539 West Broadway in Kitsilano) Thomas Haas Chocolate has a devout following that will beat you to the punch and snap up the delicious double-baked chocolate croissants if you’re not quick on the draw. I was stunned at the line-ups on a Saturday in May when I visited the North Van location – particularly as it’s in an industrial area where the rest of the surrounding buildings are not open on weekends.

vancouver-chocolate

Even if you don’t love chocolate, you will find a terrific assortment of European-style pastries at Thomas Haas Chocolates

Do call ahead or check the website when you’re visiting to be sure you’re not disappointed as Haas respects “family hours” and is not open evenings, Sundays, or Mondays in order to give his hardworking staff well-deserved time off with their families.

there are many great options for chocolate in vancouver

While you’re on the North Shore, take time to drop into two other noteworthy chocolate shops. You’ll find Cinnamon’s Chocolates at 119 East 2nd Street in North Van and Olde World Confections in the waterfront Lonsdale Quay Market, most convenient if you’re taking the seabus over to the North Shore.

Cinnamon’s has a wide array of truffles and is best known for their Martini Collection, a decadent selection of truffles spiked with flavored liquors. Olde World Confections in the Lonsdale Quay Market uses Belgian chocolate to make a variety of chocolate goodies including dark chocolate caramel pecan turtles and a lovely ginger dark chocolate bark. This post gives you a couple more chocolate options in North Vancouver.

vancouver-chocolate

Just in time for golf season – Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory brings you chocolate golf balls

You’ll find a couple noteworthy chocolate diversions in downtown Vancouver. The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory at 1017 Robson Street will sell you chocolate golf balls and a huge selection of chocolate-covered apples. The Sutton Place Hotel at 845 Burrard offers a Chocoholic Buffet in its restaurant every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening. Reservations are recommended. Be sure to arrive hungry!

For anyone looking for excellence in both creativity and quality, both Gem Chocolates at 2029 West 41st Avenue and Chocolate Arts at 1620-West 3rd Avenue are truly amazing for handmade chocolate truffles and ganaches. Gem Chocolates is the creation of chocolatier Glenn Knowles, who created a top-notch chocolate map and unique packaging for his delicious ganaches. Chocolate Arts is the creation of Maître Chocolatier Greg Hook — definitely one of Canada’s best chocolatiers — whose talent paired with superb quality, creativity, and innovative flavours offer you a selection of fine hand-crafted chocolate not to be missed when in Vancouver.

And if you’re out exploring the farmers’ markets in and around Vancouver, be sure to be on the lookout for Paul Dincer of Levni Chocolate. We encountered Dincer at the Burnaby Market last year and loved sampling his chocolates that are visually enticing and delicious on the palate. Based on all the delicious findings I had during my week of chocolate discovery in Vancouver, I’d have to say that this city is a must for any serious chocolate traveller, and is a serious contender for being one of Canada’s Top Chocolate Destinations.

Have you tried some of these chocolates? Yes, there are even more chocolate companies in greater Vancouver that I could have included in this post. There are many noteworthy creators on the chocolate scene in Vancouver and I’m continually adding them to my research. If you have a favourite that I haven’t included, please let me know!

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

40 Responses

  1. Geek Girl says:

    I love all the chocolate photos from your travels! They always look so scrumptious!
    Geek Girl recently posted…Motivational Monday Quote: 4/22My Profile

  2. Susan Cooper says:

    The list of chocolatiers is impressive and makes me want to jump on plane and visit all of them. The one the really caught my eye was the Cinnamon’s Martini Collection truffles. They sound really interesting so worth checking out..
    Susan Cooper recently posted…How I Draw On My iPad – Part 6 “Flower Vase”My Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Thanks, Cheryl and Susan for your comments.

      Yes, Susan. The Martini truffles truly are delicious. You’re fortunate that you live on the West Coast, and a trip to Vancouver is not too far flung. Make the trip. You won’t be sorry!

  3. Anna Echols says:

    Great post, Doreen. Sutton Place’s Chocoholics Buffet was the inspiration for Winnipeg’s 1st Annual Chocoholics’ Buffet held last weekend here. I had the pleasure of attending Vancouver’s buffet twice while I lived there, and I just knew that chocoholics in my new hometown would love to try the experience too. I’m planning to be in Vancouver next week and cannot wait to compare our offerings to theirs!

    And… only a true YVR chocoholic would ask Chocolate Arts create a dark chocolate groom and a milk chocolate bride to top our wedding cake ten years ago, which I hand-delivered to the Hotel Saskatchewan’s pastry chef for my wedding in Regina. Hmmm… what chocolate creation should I get for my 10th anniversary in August? We’re considering attending Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival on Sept 14-15 in San Francisco – where every chocoholic should be in September.

    • Doreen says:

      That is so funny, Anna, because I am planning to be in San Fran at the same time! I have a list of chocolate makers to interview and figured there is no better time than a Sept visit to take in a chocolate event at the same time. We’ll have to see if we can hook up while there.

      Yes, Greg at Chocolate Arts is truly a master of the trade. How cool to have that as a topping for your wedding cake! It will be interesting to see how you “top” that for your 10th anniversary.

      Thanks for dropping into the blog, for sharing your chocolate enthusiasm, and for creating the Chocoholics’ Buffet in Winnipeg. Well done!
      Doreen recently posted…exploring chocolate in VancouverMy Profile

  4. Sandra says:

    What a great idea. My son-in-law is a chocolate fanatic. I now know where to go when I travel. Do you have a stash from all over the world? Where do you keep it and how do you keep from eating it all?
    Sandra recently posted…“Sandra, can you draw?”My Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Thanks for your comment, Sandra, and for visiting the blog. I believe it is your first visit.

      Yes, I have a stash of chocolate from around the world. As we’re just coming out of 6 cold months here in Manitoba, it was no problem keeping the chocolate from melting. But if you live somewhere that it gets really hot, you do need to keep the chocolate from melting by either keeping it in an insulated bag to keep out the heat, or by keeping it in a wine cooler that is not turned up too high. Chocolate tastes much better when it’s at room temp, so be sure to let it warm up a bit if you’re keeping it chilled.

      It’s funny. I can have a huge stash of chocolate and not crave much at a time. One piece of really good artisanal chocolate equals a massive quantity of cheap, massly produced chocolate.
      Doreen recently posted…exploring chocolate in VancouverMy Profile

  5. Kelly Wade says:

    Yum, sounds like you’ve tasted some of the best chocolate in Canada. I can’t believe I’ve ever been to Canada because I live in Massachusetts. I can only imagine how these chocolates taste and all of a sudden the apple I’m eating definitely isn’t doing the trick.
    Kelly Wade recently posted…Must-Do Stability Ball MovesMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Come to Canada, Kelly! It’s such an amazing country, with so many diverse regions. Mass is not that far from the Canadian border.

      You’re right. There are times when an apple just won’t cut it. I find that if I’m craving chocolate … absolutely NOTHING else will do.

  6. satinka says:

    I have no doubt that you have tasted some of the best chocolate in Canada and in fact, the world! What a grand adventure, to have followed your heart all over the planet, tasting the finest chocolate! Doreen, I know your book will be a fabulous success! *hugs*
    satinka recently posted…Love of NatureMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Thanks for your comment and undying support, Esther. It is so very much appreciated.

      Yes, I am most fortunate to be able to travel for chocolate. It is a life I have created for myself … to be at the service of every chocolate lover on the planet. I shall travel for chocolate until I cannot travel any more. Cheers!

  7. Jon Jefferson says:

    You, as always, have uncovered part of the chocolate world I have never seen before. I love knowing that there is always more of the world I have yet to explore.

  8. Doreen says:

    Hi Jon: That’s what I love about my work. It takes me to places all over the world that I may not have otherwise visited.

    Vancouver is one of my favourite cities on the planet. It is clean and green, and has great culinary offerings including fresh seafood, wonderful BC wines (are you listening Susan Cooper?) … and great chocolate!

  9. Pat Bodman says:

    So happy to hear that Vancouver is the Top Canadian Chocolate Destination!!! Living two blocks from Cinnamon’s Chocolates has put new meaning in “Martini time”. Yum Yum!! Last week I received a hugh basket of goodies from Urban Fare that had many different chocolate treats from Rogers’ Chocolate (Victoria, B.C.) I must say that their dark chocolate was very good also. Still remember the Chocolate Croissants we had from Thomas Haas when you were here last year. Will have to get some chocolate from all the stores you mentioned when I sit down to devour your book. Can’t wait to see it/read it!!!

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Pat: Indeed, based on the quality of the chocolate I have tasted in Vancouver, and the number of amazing chocolate shops, I do feel that Vancouver should be singled out as THE place to take a chocolate vacation in Canada. There are so many reasons to love Vancouver. This is just the BEST one! (Except of course for the fact that you live there.) 🙂

  10. Jeri says:

    Now that I’m moving back to the northwest, I will finally be able to show my husband the sights in Vancouver, and when I do, I’ll be sure to keep this post in mind.
    Jeri recently posted…Work in Progress: The Inspiration for Lost Girl Road (Update #7)My Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Right on, Jeri! Vancouver has so much to discover. I’m thrilled that one of my favourite Canadian cities also has such amazing chocolate. Good luck with your move.

  11. Agness says:

    Another awesome chocolate paradise. I would love to try one of these chocolate golf balls and chocolate-covered apples. The price is also very affordable.
    Agness recently posted…Ko Phi Phi, Thailand for Less than $25My Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Thanks for your comment, Agness. Yes, I try and mix it up by including affordable choices for good quality options, as some of the fine artisanal chocolate can be quite expensive … but is oh-so-good. There’s definitely a place for “playful” chocolate. Enjoy your travels, and keep your eye open for noteworthy chocolate. 🙂

  12. John Geary says:

    Here’s a question: As an “expert” in all things chocolate, Doreen, do you know of any place in Vancouver where I can obtain sugar-free orange cream (preferably) dark chocolates? I love orange creams, but I prefer to keep the sugar levels down, for health reasons. I thought if anyone would know, you might. 🙂

    • Doreen says:

      Hi John and thanks for your comment/question!

      I would try Thomas Haas. He has a lot of baked goods and specialty items in his shop, and I believe some of it is sugar free/low sugar. If he doesn’t have them and you make a special request, I’m sure he can either point you in the right direction, or perhaps make you some. Good luck, and thanks again for dropping into the blog.
      Doreen recently posted…exploring chocolate in VancouverMy Profile

  13. Catarina says:

    The world of chocolate is huge – and delicious. Am learning so much about the abundance and variety of chocolate from you. It’s amazing how chocolate is used for all kinds of different purposes. Not to mention tastes:-)
    Catarina recently posted…Do MBAs harm the economy?My Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Catarina, and thanks for your comment. Yes, the world of chocolate is certainly a big one! That’s why I’m having to break by book into 3 volumes. It would just be too daunting a task (albeit a delicious one!) to try and cover the entire world of chocolate in just one volume. Cheers!
      Doreen recently posted…exploring chocolate in VancouverMy Profile

  14. Kristine says:

    Chocolate! I love love them! Cocoa is my most favorite, most especially when more prepared and mixed up like nutella. 🙂

  15. Emilia says:

    After reading your blog, I think I want to live now in Vancouver. I love chocolates! Thank you for sharing, now I am craving for some sweets.

  16. Salika Jay says:

    I didn’t know Vancouver offers some great chocolates so it’s really good to know. Next time I go there I will surely check it out.
    Salika Jay recently posted…Universal Studios SingaporeMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Salika ad thanks for your comment. Yes, Vancouver never ceases to amaze me. The quality of the culinary offerings (including fine chocolate!) is really quite amazing. So you’re getting eye candy with the beautiful scenery, and edible candy to satisfy your taste buds!

  17. Hi Doreen
    Great article. I shall tweet it out. Thomas Haas is expensive (as any good chocolate store is) but worth every cent (except we don’t have them anymore!). I have never tried anything from there that was not superb. In addition to chocolate they do make other things, as you said. Their double almond croissant is the best I have eaten in my life. They make seasonal chocolate products that are amazing.

    I also have a soft spot for Chocolate Arts. Their chocolates are all good too and I love the one with rice crisps in it. You have written a great overview of Vancouver’s chocolate scene. I look forward to any subsequent posts about my city. Always looking for new places to try. I also cannot wait for your book to come out.

    Susan

    • Doreen says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment, Susan. I can’t wait for the book to come out either! But first I have to finish writing it! Getting very close now, as I just have to incorporate the edits and do a bit of tweaking. Now you’ve got me thinking about those double chocolate almond croissants again. They truly are magnificent! Cheers!

  18. Vianney says:

    Chocolate!!! Yey! I love chocolates. You are one lucky sweet tooth! 🙂

  19. Arianne says:

    I love chocolate! They’re very tasty and sweet. I love it so dearly much! 🙂

  20. Dana Carmel says:

    Urgh – I was in Vancouver in December and I wish I’d known about these places before my trip! Life just wouldn’t be the same without chocolate…

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Dana: Well, you’ll just have to subscribe to the blog!

      I’ve got chocolatiers and chocolate makers listed by destination via the categories on the main page (or you can find via a “search” on the blog.

      Thanks for visiting. I hope you’ll return again soon.
      Doreen recently posted…exploring chocolate in VancouverMy Profile

  21. Your chocolate photos are all mouth watering! Makes me want to hoard all the chocolates in the supermarket. lol. Keep them coming…
    Christopher James recently posted…Nubri coming soonMy Profile

    • Hi Christopher: Thanks for your comment. The goal of Chocolatour is to get you to head to a local chocolate shop and experience artisanal chocolate. And then maybe when you travel, you will do the same in various places. My book contains an A-Z Guide for Chocolate Lovers, with entries from all around the world. Entice your taste buds with handmade artisanal chocolate. 🙂
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Chocolatour has launched!My Profile

  22. It’s really funny. I can have a huge stash of chocolate and not crave much at a time. One piece of really good chocolate equals a massive quantity of cheap, massively produced chocolate.

    • Doreen says:

      Absolutely, Albert! It only takes a small quantity of good quality dark chocolate to satisfy a chocolate craving, and you’re doing it in a healthy way. Whereas cheap, commercial grade chocolate is filled with sugar and additives and becomes quite addictive to those with a sweet tooth, just as potato chips are addictive to someone who craves salt.
      Doreen recently posted…swept away in the WAVE Interlake Artists’ TourMy Profile

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