As a destination for chocolate lovers, Amsterdam is sadly underrated, passed over in favor of nearby chocolate capitals like Brussels and Paris. Nestled in some of these old canal houses, however, are some of the best artisanal chocolatiers on the continent. That's not all: with an annual chocolate festival, CHOCA, each fall, and an open-access chocolate factory-cum-museum slated to open in 2013 (modeled, of course, after Willy Wonka's own chocolate factory), Amsterdam is destined to become a hot spot for chocolate fanatics. But the proof is in the product: drop into one of these favorite chocolatiers for a taste of one of Amsterdam's lesser-known specialties.
Open Sun. - Mon. 12 - 6 p.m., Tues. - Sat. 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Open Sun. - Mon. 12 - 6 p.m., Tues. - Sat. 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Who doesn't love Puccini Bomboni? (Other than dieters, that is.) Amsterdam's most celebrated chocolaterie is the place to start on a chocolate tour of the Dutch capital. Their trademark oversized bonbons are spiked with flavors from French spirits and liqueurs to Southeast Asian spices.
Open Tues. - Fri. 9:30 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sat. 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.; closed Mon. and Sun.
ArtiChoc takes the diversity of flavors to the next level, with bonbons such as caramel-pine nut, pimiento, honey-whisky, marsala and basil. Seasonal specialties, like chocolate "chestnuts", "acorns", "mushrooms" and "pumpkins" for fall, keep the assortment timely.
Open Mon. - Sat. 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.; closed Sun.
The choices are fewer but often bolder at UnlimitedDelicious, with options like tamarind sambal, pink pepper, and lemon-white beer bonbons. Also on offer are their deluxe renditions of traditional Dutch, American, French and Italian cookies, as well as cakes and ice cream.
Pompadour Chocolaterie & Tearoom
Huidenstraat 12 (Amsterdam Center)
Open Mon. - Fri. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; closed Sun.
Kerkstraat 148 (Amsterdam South)
Open daily, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Pompadour is hailed for both its chocolates and pastries, the latter of which are served -- in addition to breakfast and lunch -- in an authentic Louis XVI tearoom, with interior flourishes imported from Antwerp. Die-hard sweet tooths can relax with a tea and pastry and then take some chocolate for the road.