Yes, Valentine's Day is a holiday invented to sell candy and cards and flowers and teddy bears. But we don't need an excuse to eat chocolate or cookies. Neither should you. So whether you're looking for something sweet for yourself or for your sweetie, we've found a few of our favorite chocolate shops and cookie spots. They're perfect for a special occasion or no occasion at all.
When you want a classic, heart-shaped box of chocolates, there's no better choice than See's Candies, which might be the tastiest business Canadian immigrants ever launched in the US. With Charles See peddling candy made by his widowed mother, Mary, the first outpost of the candy company opened in 1921 at 135 Western Avenue North. (A decade later, El Cholo would open on the same street, only a couple miles south.) Although the company has been owned by Berkshire Hathaway since 1972 (Warren Buffet is a fan of its profit margins and its peanut brittle), the chocolate is still high-quality and delicious. The packaging is still old school. And the candy is still a crowd-pleaser, cutting across every demographic. Even if the rigamarole around V-Day gives you hives, gifting a box of See's Nuts and Chews remains a supreme act of love.
Do you ever want to spend the day laying in bed eating bon bons with your love, your BFF or by yourself? Look no further than Milla Chocolates. Founded by Christine Sarioz in 2016, minimalist luxury is the vibe.
9414 Venice Blvd., Culver City.
76 gas station - Century City
At this 76 across the street from the Century City mall, the decor is nicer and the fuel, more expensive than at most gas stations. Locals know. What's less well-known is that this gas station stocks an impressive variety of British candies — Violet Crumble, Aero, Smarties, Flake, Crunchie, Twirl, Curly Wurly, Picnic, etc. — probably because there's a BBC office located next door. Know a Brit who's aching for Cadbury? This gas station is your friend.
10385 Santa Monica Blvd., Century City.
Is Valerie Confections better known for its cakes or its chocolates? Hard to say but it hardly matters because both are great. Truffles might be filled with liquid caramel or flavored with rose petals and passion fruit. Or they might be straight-up dark chocolate. Whichever you choose, their quality is superb, they look gorgeous and they taste fantastic.
1936 W. Glenoaks Blvd., Glendale.
1665 Echo Park Ave., Echo Park.
Patricia Tsai used to be an accountant. But in 2009, she launched a farmers market stand selling chocolate made from stone-ground cacao nibs. She doesn't go for wacky flavor pairings, which is fine since ChocoVivo's dark bars are ideal for aficionados who like their chocolate simple but exceptional.
12469 Washington Blvd., Culver City.
If chocolate were fashion, Compartes would be a flashy, coveted luxury brand. Jonathan Grahm makes some of the prettiest chocolates around. His exquisite bars and truffles taste every bit as good as they look, and they're perfect for impressing the poshest person you know or indulging yourself.
5735 W. Adams Blvd., West Adams.
CAR Artisan Chocolate
In the summer of 2019, Harris Car and his wife took a trip to Peru where he discovered the pleasures of bean-to-bar chocolate. He loved the methodical nature of chocolate production. Since then, CAR Artisan Chocolate has been producing small batch chocolate from top-notch cacao. He has also become an excellent croissant-maker, using his own batons in his pain au chocolat.
1009 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena.
More great spots to get chocolate candy:
Albert's Petite Sweets
456 Elm Ave., Long Beach.
9548 Brighton Way, Beverly Hills.
12448 Oxnard St., Valley Glen.
5264 Tujunga Ave., North Hollywood.
Cocoa & Candy
4375 1/2 Tujunga Ave., Studio City.
Diane Krön Chocolatier
9606 Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills.
444 N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills.
225 26th St., Santa Monica.
John Kelly Chocolates
1508 N. Sierra Bonita Ave., Hollywood.
1111 1/2 Montana Ave., Santa Monica.
Läderach Chocolatier Suisse
270 Los Cerritos Ctr., Cerritos.
2835 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverlywood.
1321 Post Ave., Torrance.
936 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale.
6 E. Holly St., Pasadena.
Is the gas station the new strip mall of Southern California dining, a locale bubbling with culinary entrepreneurship and hidden gems? Zooie's Cookies, located inside a gas station convenience store near the corner of National and Robertson, makes a strong case for the theory. These are thick, soft, extremely rich cookies sometimes dolloped with cream cheese frosting, salted caramel or toasted marshmallow, making them even richer. Owner Arezou Appel's creative flavors also make them a standout. The Baklava cookie, flavored with cardamom and rosewater, shows off Appel's Iranian heritage while the Apple Tarte Tatin, topped with an apple jam, successfully infuses apple flavor into a cookie. Yes, the standard chocolate chip cookie is also great.
9815 National Blvd., Cheviot Hills.
Levain, which debuted in 1995 in New York City, recently opened its first bakery in LA, serving its famous XXL cookies. These things are so thick and massive, one is hard to eat in a single sitting. (If they were mass-produced candy, they'd be dubbed "sharing size.") The dark chocolate peanut butter chip cookie is maybe the best sweet-savory/choco-PB combo around. The caramel coconut chocolate chip crams in so many fillings, it's a wonder it stays together. Even the vegan and gluten-free chocolate chip cookie is worth trying.
227 N. Larchmont Blvd., Larchmont.
Friends & Family
There's a reason Nancy Silverton says Roxana Jullapat's peanut butter cookie changed her life. Jullapat is a damn fine baker whose passion for ancient grains imbues everything she touches with a subtle, sometimes surprising oomph. At Friends & Family, her cookies are slender and elegant, in the manner of classy bakeries. Although her official chocolate chip cookie recipe (which she shared with us in 2022) calls for sorghum flour, it can be made with rye, buckwheat or several other grains. If you're worried your homemade version won't turn out as well, let Friends & Family do the work while you sip a glass of milk and enjoy the spoils.
5150 Hollywood Blvd., East Hollywood.
For those who prefer a thin chocolate chip cookie, this should be one of your top destinations. Like everything at Proof, the cookies are chic and perfect — crisp and light at the edges, gooey in the middle and delicious throughout.
3156 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village.
These cookies have been a favorite among UCLA students for as long as anyone can remember and with good reason. They're tasty! They also happen to be affordable. A Diddy Riese cookie isn't as thin as some of the gourmet options on this list nor is it as hefty as the chunk-monsters we've cited. This is a cookie that walks a solid middle line. It's medium-size and medium-thick, with plenty of chips or nuts. And it's a perfect base for one of Diddy's ice cream sandwiches, which sometimes lead to lines down the block on busy nights.
926 Broxton Ave., Westwood.
Retro is the name of the game at Cake Monkey where traditional cakes share space with cookies, cakewiches, mini layer cakes, hand pies and fancified versions of Hostess snack cakes, among other treats. The Cinnadoodle amps up a classic snickerdoodle by adding cinnamon bun filling while the Wake Monkey slathers coffee buttercream between two gluten-free chocolate pecan sandwich cookies. The cookies are playful but they aren't playing when it comes to flavor.
7807 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax.
10844 Chandler Blvd., North Hollywood.
A couple spots for gluten-free treats:
More great spots to get cookies:
727 N. Broadway, Chinatown.
18450 Clark St., Tarzana.
Fat & Flour
317 S. Broadway, Downtown LA.
11739 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City
2715 Whittier Blvd., Boyle Heights.
8588 Washington Blvd, Culver City.
11918 Washington Blvd., Culver City.
8532 W. Pico Blvd., Pico-Robertson.
20929 Ventura Blvd. #22, Woodland Hills.
624 S. La Brea Ave., Hancock Park.
Southern Girl Desserts
3650 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw.
The Very Best Cookie in the Whole Wide World
2625 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverlywood.