What is it about overcast afternoons that make you crave hot chocolate? Just one glimpse of the gray clouds outside your window and suddenly you’re longing for a hot mug of sweet, silky cocoa. You decide today is the perfect day for a trip to Socola Chocolatier + Barista, the hybrid coffee/chocolate shop that infuses everything with Vietnamese flavors. 

You pull on your favorite knit sweater and ankle boots before leaving the house, walking east toward Folsom Street. There are other cafés closer to home, but none quite like Socola. The sister-owned shop is teeming with personality, making it feel more like your best friend’s living room than a place of business. 

The seating area is an eclectic mix of bistro tables and cushy living room furniture, inviting you sit and linger. A soft turquoise statement wall is accentuated by quirky llama throw pillows and alpaca plush toys lining the bookcase shelves. Funky decals adorn the walls and appliances, and you can just tell that everything in this room is well-loved, giving it that “lived-in” quality that makes it feel like home.   

Before ordering, you approach the glass display case to look at the truffles. One shelf contains their staple chocolates: sriracha and dark chocolate ganache truffles, durian milk chocolates, and jasmine tea-infused bon bons. Another shelf has novelty chocolate bars, like a milk chocolate bar encrusted in pretzels and potato chips, or a dark chocolate slab covered in pop rocks candy.  

Waiting your turn in line, you hear the person in front of you order a “truffogato” – an espresso poured over a truffle of his choice. You watch as the barista pours two shots of coffee over a Passion Fruit Vanilla Bean truffle, with a cloud of sweet and fragrant steam immediately rising out of the mug. 

For a split second, you consider changing your order to a truffogato as well, but Socola’s hot chocolate is too tempting. It’s made from 72 percent dark chocolate ganache and milk, topped off with a delicate, house-made chocolate marshmallow. 

Carrying the mug over to the loveseat in the seating area, you settle in just as the first raindrop strikes the window. It’s followed by a sprinkling of rain before the skies truly open up. There’s something satisfying about watching the downpour outside as you sip on your hot chocolate. Warm and dry on the comfy couch, you can think of no better way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Photo courtesy of Socola Chocolatier + Barista. Chocolate box images by Andria Lo.