ACKC -- Artfully Chocolate

Ice cream, Coffeehouse
$$$$ ($14 and under)
Please note: ACKC -- Artfully Chocolate is no longer a part of the Going Out Guide.
ACKC -- Artfully Chocolate photo
Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post
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Editorial Review

ACKC stands for Artfully Chocolate and Kingsbury Confections, two Alexandria stores that have collaborated on their first venture in the District. The 14th Street shop is a combination of cafe, chocolate shop and art gallery. The cafe and chocolate bar space is compact but perfect for recovering over a mug of hot chocolate.

The shop offers espresso drinks and European-style hot chocolate, made with your choice of whole, two percent or skim milk and any added flavors that you desire, but you'd be cheating yourself not to try at least one of the eight hot chocolate combinations, all named after iconic women and available in 12 or 16 ounces. My favorite was the Lucy, a spicy cup of semi-sweet chocolate with chipotle and cinnamon. My cup didn't last long. The Audrey is the classic French hot chocolate, thick and dark, while the Joan has a shot of espresso inside. The Marilyn is made with white chocolate and orange, and the Liz is quite simple with a touch of soothing lavender.

As for the shopping, ACKC sells Kingsbury chocolates, Christopher Confections and more general seasonal items like greeting cards, chocolate pasta and novelty bars. In my visits, I have had ample time to explore the tables of merchandise waiting for my hot chocolate to be whirred up. For other amusement while you wait, the walls are lined with colorful paintings. Eric Nelson, owner of Del Ray's Artfully Chocolate and Artfully Paper, is also an artist working primarily with acrylics over mylar to create a bright foil-like canvas. He also has a wall of framed bas-relief mosaics.

--Erin Hartigan