French Broad Chocolate Lounge
Locally known as "The Chocolate Lounge," FBCL has grown its business exponentially since its humble beginnings in 2008, when it opened the first location on South Lexington Avenue.
The owners, Dan and Jael Rattigan, have a story that's just as sweet as their delicious confections. The couple met a wedding in 2003, went on a trip together to Costa Rica, and then decided to drop out of graduate school and move back to Costa Rica, where they purchased an abandoned cacao farm and opened up a cafe and dessert shop called Bread and Chocolate.
They studied all-things-chocolate for a year while running their shop, then decided to head back to the States with their new knowledge. The original Lounge, shortly after opening, became notorious for its lines that snaked around the block. Dozens of people would happily wait in all forms of weather at all hours of the day, just to get inside and order a single chocolate truffle.
Now, the Chocolate Lounge is home to truffles, brownies, pot de cremes, cakes, ice cream, bars, cookies, hot and cold sipping chocolates, and more. They thrive in a bustling, light-filled space in Pack Square, serving chocolate lovers of all ages. You can even shop online.
If you want to see firsthand the artistry and science that goes into making small-batch chocolates by hand, you have to visit Chocolate Gems on Broadway. In fact, if you've stayed at the Windsor, you've already sampled their delicacies--they provide custom chocolates for our guests.
In 1996, owners Andrew and Sue met in France while they were both signed on as crew for the delivery of a catamaran from France to Texas. The following year they set sail on their own boat from Illinois and sailed out of the Great Lakes, down the St Lawrence River and on to England, which is Sue's home country.
After five years of sailing and a couple of months visiting family, they landed happily in Asheville--as most people do. Sue began to craft chocolates at home, and soon the couple opened their first location in Black Mountain, North Carolina. You will find them both in the shop early in the mornings, making chocolates. After six years, they relocated their shop to downtown Asheville.
The shop features a large open kitchen, perfect for watching how these magical confections are made. Offering a variety of delicious barks, covered fruits, truffles, and turtles, the Gems staff are delighted to show you how each batch is made and maybe even demonstrate. They're also known for the best gelato in the city. Ask for a sample and you'll have trouble walking out without a cup!
Kilwins has been "sweet in every sense since 1947." With several different locations, they're hard to miss, and trust us: you don't want to. There aren't any other spots in the city where you can get a rainbow sprinkle-topped caramel apple, or a bright cellophane treat bag of gummy alligators.
Their signature offerings include a variety of fudge (we counted eight last time we popped in), toffee, caramel and candied apples, peanut brittle, and ice cream.
It's a fun destination, especially for families, because you can watch the staff carefully making fudge, chocolate-dipped pretzels or toffee behind the clear divides. We watched one young man slowly pour a giant bronze bowl of what would eventually become peanut brittle into a sheet on a table as carefully as if he were handling fine china. Their core principles center around a high standard of craftsmanship when it comes to making their sweets.
We definitely recommend grabbing a scoop of their ice cream or picking up a candy apple to take on the road.