The Sweetest Thing

  "There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate." - Charles Dickens Chocolate...decadently delicious, heart-warming, problem-solving chocolate. It brings smiles to faces, lifts the mood, and makes the world a sweeter place. When life gets too much, chocolate always seems to be the answer. After all, what does Professor Lupin hand Harry Potter when the soul-sucking Dementors attack? Squares of chocolate, of course. While Americans don't lead the pack in chocolate consumption globally (that's the Swiss), people in the U.S. consume almost ten pounds of chocolate per year, accounting for over 22 billion dollars in sales. For National Chocolate Day on October 28, San Diego bakers, chefs and bartenders are rounding up a multitude of cocoa filled treats for locals to enjoy. Here are some of the top picks:   Chocolate for Breakfast? Yes, Please! Breakfast Republic: Everyone's favorite childhood cookie makes a comeback with the Oreo Pancakes, a heart-warming tower of three pancakes stuffed with cream and crumbles and topped with more chocolatey goodness. 2865 Sims Rd., #106, Liberty Station 619.693.5434, Farmer's Bottega: Another nostalgic favorite comes to breakfast time with the Reese's & Ice Cream Pancakes, lovingly slathered with melted Reese's chunks and vanilla ice cream. 860 W. Washington St., Mission Hills 619.458.9929,   Desserts Galore JSix: Dive into the Old School Chocolate Cake from Chef Anthony Sinsay. This seven-layer beauty is made with Valrhona chocolate, with a Valrhona Dulcey blonde chocolate ganache between each layer, and topped with a chocolate buttercream. 616 J St., East Village 619.531.8744, Cusp: Chocoholics, rejoice! Chef Ingrid Funes creates a twist on the ubiquitous candy bar with her own Chocolate Crunch Bar, made with chocolate sponge cake, peanut crunch, chocolate mousse and served with chocolate ice cream. 7955 La Jolla Shores Dr., La Jolla 858.551.3620, Cafe Gratitude: Chocolate often comes hand in hand with milk and eggs, but not at this downtown vegan hotspot. Plant-based eaters will love the worry-free Irresistible, made with coconut custard, dark chocolate swirl and a date crust. 1980 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy 619.736.5077, Pacifica Del Mar: Those who like the dark chocolate/white chocolate combo will swoon over the Mocha Semifreddo, the semi-frozen dessert with dark chocolate custard, white chocolate-espresso mousse and house-made toffee crunch. 1555 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar 858.792.0476, Pisco Rotisserie & Cevicheria: Like a little spice with chocolate? Head to this Peruvian spot in Liberty Station for the Chocolate Hazelnut Cake, served with grilled pineapple and tajin. 2401 Truxtun Rd., Ste. 102, Liberty Station 619.222.3111, Rustic Root: Combining two heavenly desserts into one, the Chocolate Creme Brulee Cheesecake is almost too good to be true. Made with an Oreo cookie crumb crust and topped with caramelized sugar and fresh berries, it's worth every calorie. 535 Fifth Ave., downtown 619.232.1747,   Chocolate Cocktails OB Surf Lodge: Just in time for Halloween, this beachy locale offers The Vampiro, a cocktail made with Ghost Chile Tequila, Chocolate Syrup, Chocolate Godiva Liquer, and coffee topped with white chocolate whipped cream and cocoa powder. 5083 Santa Monica Ave., Ste. 1F, Ocean Beach 619.955.5475, Veranda Fireside Restaurant & Lounge at Rancho Bernardo Inn: Cozy up by the fire pits and sip on the comforting Peppermint Pattie Martini made with peppermint schnapps, Godiva dark cocoa liqueur and topped with a peppermint bite on the rim. 17550 Bernardo Oaks Dr., Rancho Bernardo 888.993.1856, Cafe 21: No need for a Chunk belly dance to acquire this version of the Truffle Shuffle, a decadent cocktail with raspberry infused TRU vodka, chocolate syrup, almond orgeat and garnished with a chocolate truffle, raspberries and mint. 2736 Adams Ave., University Heights 619.640.2121,  
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