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Best Underground Chocolate Shop 

Barlovento Chocolates

"Underground" doesn't even cover it. From the outside, Barlovento is almost impossible to find: no signage, no windows, no indication whatsoever that this is any different from the private warehouses that line this tree-shaded street in an industrial neighborhood — even the doors are locked. This is the kind of place you'll walk past two or three or four times — double-checking the address on your phone, wondering if you're on the right street, very nearly giving up altogether — before, finally taking that leap of faith and ringing the bell. When you're finally let inside — likely by owner Peter Brydon himself, apron caked with cocoa powder, hairnet on head — the space is dark and tiny, thick with the smell of melting chocolate and cluttered with boxes; if "underground" is an understatement, "chocolate shop" is an overstatement — it's more like a chocolate factory that happens to have a display case (according to employees, the average number of walk-in customers hovers around two a day). But, holy hell, what a display it is: exquisitely detailed, densely textured, undeniably well-made truffles in flavors like chile de arbol y apricot, cardamom and honey, and cabernet, all handmade from high-quality, mostly local ingredients, many of which are culled from small farms (the chocolate is single-source Venezuelan). Barlovento Chocolates are available at the Grand Lake farmers' market, the Fourth Street Pasta Shop, and various other locations, but, truth be told, the brick-and-mortar might be most fun.

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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