140 NE 28th Ave., 517-0262, almachocolate.com. 11 am-6 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-7 pm Friday-Saturday, noon-4 pm Sunday.
[CHOCOLATE] Nestled between well-known eateries along bustling Northeast 28th Avenue, this charming little chocolatier's boutique is your palate's sensual delight and dentist's worst nightmare (though the good doctor would understand after one visit). Rose-water caramel sauce, ginger-almond toffee, Mexican truffles, Thai peanut butter cups and a thick habanero caramel drinking chocolate that will banish those rainy-day blues—these are only a few of the rich temptations that await. Proprietor Sarah Hart started out five years ago by creating gold-painted chocolate molds of spiritual icons, and you can still find a shelf dedicated to edible renditions of La Virgen de Guadalupe, Shakyamuni Buddha and Sheela na Gig in a corner of the shop. Burnt-sugar cocoa almonds and "Alma boo boos" (delicious mistakes in a discounted bag) are up for grabs, too. (NB)
Shopping list: Imported salt, 6 ounces of cacao nibs, a habanero caramel crown and a tin of Spanish pimentón.
414 SW 13th Ave., 241-0656, cacaodrinkchocolate.com, 9 am-8 pm Monday-Thursday, 9 am-10 pm Friday-Saturday, 11 am-6 pm Sunday.
[CHOCOLATE] By the age of 3, my grandmother had taught me to gleefully parrot the phrase "I'm a chocoholic!" For chocolate fiends like me, Cacao is heaven—an entire store devoted to this food of the gods, overflowing with bars labeled with their cocoa percentages and plantations of origin. In addition to the three mouthwatering varieties of drinking chocolate, Cacao offers treats from local chocolatiers Sahagún, Cocanú, and Xocolatl de Davíd, as well as high-end baking chocolate, cacao nibs and powder. It even sells chocolate-flavored caramels and chocolate-scented perfume! For those new to gourmet chocolate, the Michel Cluizel sampler is a great introduction to single-origin chocolates and is the perfect size for hosting a cozy chocolate-tasting party. (MHW)
Shopping list: Pralus Brut de São Tomé bar, Dolfin Earl Grey bar, Fran's sea salt caramels, Michel Cluizel sampler.
4246 SE Belmont St., 971-279-2249, chocolabpdx.com. 11 am-6 pm Wednesday-Friday, 10 am-4 pm Saturday-Sunday.
[CHOCOLATE] Don't let the labels that read "specimen" fool you—this cute little chocolate boutique with its glittery confections and sparkly chandeliers is more Sex and the City than sci-fi laboratory, with a delightful, if somewhat pricey, rotating assortment of truffles, bonbons, caramels and marshmallow goodies all made on site. Unusual flavors of chocolates abound: Peruvian pepper, rosemary, Guinness stout. Some, like the Meyer lemon and curry truffle, may take some getting used to, but the raspberry Marsala truffle is heavenly. Try the liquid chocolate "truffle sips," a small bit of which packs a huge wallop. If you take home a pretty mix of sweets to a chocolate-loving partner, you're sure to be heavily rewarded. (DC)
Shopping list: Edible chocolate modeling clay, chocolate soda, handmade chocolates that appeal to the eye as much as the palate.
740 NW 23rd Ave., 360-1350, nwsweets.com. 11 am-7 pm Wednesday-Monday.
[CANDY SHOPPE] The brainchild of confectioner Steve Gazda, this delightful shop looks like something out of a dream, as the all-white space sets off bookshelves full of your grandparents' favorite candy bars, gums and sweets. The assortment is ever-changing, and Gazda will happily tell you the history of most any item he carries. In addition to nostalgic favorites like Idaho Spuds and Necco-brand Skybars, Gazda has crafted his own caramels, chocolate truffles, palm-sized lollipops and other whimsies. Grab some candy buttons for yourself or a Cherry Mash for a nostalgic family member. As to Gazda's original creations, stick to the soft caramels, meltaways and uniquely flavored marshmallows unless you want to wreck your dental work. (MHW)
Shopping list: Valomilk, candy cigarettes, vanilla-bean orange-blossom caramels and handcrafted marshmallows (recent flavor options included key lime, coconut or vanilla).