Both Sharon and I have a weakness for sugary delicacies. An entire section of our small pantry is, in fact, overflowing with salt water taffy from Monterey, chocolates from Europe, pastries from Taiwan, and various other sweets from shops nearby. So when we happened upon Cacao on our first visit to Portland, we regressed into two small children with the unchecked spending power of two young adults.
If Portland is a mecca for coffee lovers, than Cacao is holy ground for chocolate lovers. The shop located on 13th Street between West Burnside and SW Washington, while small, is filled with an immense assortment of artisan chocolates from all around the world. Each chocolate is elegantly packaged, and many feature fascinating descriptions about their origins and ingredients. There’s even a small chocolate bar serving a variety of intriguing chocolate concoctions—from flights of drinking chocolates to drinking chocolates spiced with chili peppers—for timid and adventurous visitors alike.
The shop’s staff are knowledgeable and quick to answer even the most obscure questions. A lot of the inventory is organic and/or uses fair market practices, and even though there is an emphasis on chocolate from the Pacific Northwest, the chocolate comes from all around the world.
Chocolate lovers beware: a visit to Cacao can easily consume an entire trip’s dining budget! Between the two of us, we’ve spent more than $100 on a dozen chocolate bars to share with family and friends per visit. (And that’s after putting several tempting bars back on the shelf.) Luckily, Cacao does provide shoppers with small samples of each chocolate to aid in what would otherwise be an excruciating decision process.
A visit to Cacao is more than purchasing a handful of premium chocolates. It’s an experience in a well-planned display of artisanal goods that are ethically sourced. The distinct aromas and the beautiful designs of each bar delight the senses and invite visitors to linger while the shop’s chocolate bar promises guests a new culinary experience.
Cacao has two locations in Portland. Each of our visits has taken us to their shop on 13th Street but we plan to visit their shop on SW Salmon Street during our next Portland getaway, which we hope is soon so we can replenish our dwindling supply of delicious chocolate from Cacao!
What are your favorite culinary destinations? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.