Amara Chocolate & Coffee – Pasadena, CA

The most essential element to life is represented by the letter ‘C’ in the periodic table – carbon.  So it seems no coincidence that Amara serves up the other 3 essential C’s – coffee, chocolate, and churros. Individually, each is a treat on its own, but being able to have all 3 in one setting is almost a dream come true.

With roots in Argentine cuisine, Amara’s churros are a bit different than what you would find from a cart at the fair or amusement park.  A bit thinner and fried quickly, they do not succumb to the greasiness that plagues the cheaper varieties.  You order them in sets of 6 (6,12,18). And if being covered in sugar was not enough there are various sauces you can select to dip them in – dulce de leche, sweetened condensed milk, guava, and melted chocolates of varying darkness. Pa’ los Vengan is the ultimate treat with 18 churros and your choice of 4 dipping sauces. I found the guava sauce to be the best as it has a nice full guava flavor that goes well with the churros.

Complete your chocoholic experience by ordering a Venzuelan hot chocolate.  These are not your lame Swiss Miss hot chocolates you may be accustomed to drinking.  Extremely thick and chocolatey, the texture resembles more of a freshly made chocolate pudding. The Mexican Authority has notes of pasilla chile and cinnamon that makes any cafe de olla pale in comparison. For women who bleach their moustaches, just be forewarned that this stuff will cling to and highlight them like a neon sign.DSC_0452

For coffee drinkers, the latte version is the Aztec XOCO Latte.  Made with Jones coffee, chocolate and a slight hint of pasilla chile, it will give you a tingling warm fuzzy feeling inside.DSC_0451

But life is about balance, so you may want to order some delicious food to accompany your sweet cravings.  Beef is the crown jewel of Argentina, and Argentines have the second largest consumption of it in the world (they lost the title to Uruguay in 2013).  Their beef production is said to be enough to produce two steaks for every person in the world. So it is no surprise that it highlights the best of their savory items. La de Pabellon is an arepa that is filled with shredded beef, white cheese, black beans, and sweet plantains. It can aptly be described as a sandwich made with masa dough.  Extremely fulfilling.DSC_0461

For something a bit lighter, you can get a bocata, which is a sandwich made with a focaccia-like bread. The M Cabrera is filled with Venezuelan slow cooked beef, brie cheese, and fresh tomato.DSC_0467

As if we didn’t have enough food already, they threw in a complimentary empanada for us to try to ensure the onset of a food coma. The Chicken Empanada is filled with shredded chicken and has a light sweetness to it. I really enjoyed the flaky crust and it is what Hot Pockets dream to be like.DSC_0464

Make no mistake, you will have an enjoyable meal here, but dessert comes first.  As an insurance policy, I would order and eat the churros before anything else. You can get creative and dunk them into your hot chocolate or coffee.  Having eaten a large amount of chocolate, I ended up leaving with a sense of euphoria that comes with the rush of endorphins.  Forget legalized marijuana, this stuff is like legalized ecstasy

Bill total = 1 large churros plate, 2 sandwiches, 2 drinks, tax, tip = about $55

Website: amarachocolate.com

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