Chinatown was a hip part of the city even before the arrival of new restaurants like Lucky Belly (ramen), Livestock Tavern (seasonal New American), The Pig and the Lady (modern Vietnamese) and Grondin (French-Latin). It remains a diverse and fun place to visit with its mix of old-school Asian eateries and grocers, lei stands, chic cocktail bars, design boutiques and studios, vintage stores, and even a local chocolatier.
We found Madre Chocolate’s wares everywhere from farmers’ markets to health-food stores and specialty shops, so we had to visit its downtown store, located next to the exquisite local gift boutique Owens & Co. Madre Chocolate started four years ago, and these little chocolate bars are pricey (between $6.50 and $12 a bar) but worth it. Available in a range of unique flavors (Peruvian purple corn, passion fruit, hibiscus, and coconut milk and caramelized ginger, for example), each bar features both the cacao percentage and an illustration of the area from which the cacao is sourced; some even comes from the Hawaiian islands. I have so many favorites, from the tart lilikoi (passion fruit) to the nutty roasted rice of the genmaicha. You can’t go wrong, and there’s even a discount if you buy three or five bars: You get $2 or $5 off, respectively.