Although “the American Dream” takes a different shape for everyone, Dandelion Chocolate seems to be exactly that for partners Todd Masonis and Cameron Ring. Described as “a small-batch bean-to-bar craft chocolate maker,” Dandelion Chocolate is the result of a lifetime love of cocoa by owners. Opened after selling a technology startup called Plaxo to Comcast for a rumored sum of nearly $200 million in 2008, the brand got its start in 2010 and has never looked back.
Now operating out of a 28,000 square-foot production facility in San Francisco’s Mission district, there is no doubt that Dandelion has gained a lot of fans over the years by doing things right. Dandelion debuted a Tokyo location in 2016, and by opening at The Venetian Resort Hotel Las Vegas on Dec. 7, 2019, the company’s focus on ethically sourcing and artisan production looks to take on its third city.
Technically located in The Grand Canal Shoppes, but actually adjacent The Venetian’s well-appointed front desk, Dandelion Chocolate’s boutique offers everything fans have learned to love. On entry, guests will notice a coffee bar to the right and seating left, plus several styles of chocolate ranging from bars to bon-bons and truffles lining the shelves. Open from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m., and offering the resort’s free Wi-Fi, Dandelion invites guests to grab and go, or sit down after browsing to indulge.
Not cutting any corners, workers at the Mission factory roast, winnow, grind and temper small batches of responsibly sourced cocoa before molding and packaging each bar by hand. Dandelion sells these out of the ground-floor storefront, where guests will also find a variety of pastries and beverages, including Sin City’s first source of Ritual Roasters Coffee.
The highly educated staff is led by General Manager Adrian Danciu, and their extensive training in San Francisco is evidenced by each employee’s knowledge of Dandelion Chocolate’s history and process. They invite shoppers to taste varieties ranging from Costa Rica to Sierra Leone with each batch harboring its own flavor. For fruit fanciers, consider Maya Mountain Belize 70% dark chocolate or for a more balanced flavor look to the bright cinnamon notes that present early from Gola Rainforest beans.
An ideal location for morning coffee, Dandelion does not stop there in the quest to quench customer’s thirst. Expectedly serving hot chocolate, the European variety with Housemade Marshmallows extra thick, those unable to decide between coffee and cocoa are strongly encouraged to order a dazzling Iced Mocha. For those seeking something a little different, do consider the “Nibby Horchata,” chocolate chai or cacao fruit smoothie.
Every drink is served with a bite-size treat, and this is merely a glimpse of the quality found inside Dandelion’s Chocolate Chip Cookie. Featuring 70% Camino Verde chocolate, Dandelion’s take on a classic treats patrons to a crisp rim and soft center. Gluten-free diners won’t feel left out, either, with an oatmeal round made from almond flour packed with cocoa, coconut and dried cranberries.
Dandelion Chocolate currently bakes eleven pastries from a commissary kitchen. From brownies to banana bread many items offer rustic recipes made from top tier ingredients. For those seeking something more unique, there is also a passionfruit éclair, or the divine brown butter blondie with walnuts, chocolate and the subtle saltiness of miso.
Other menu standouts include canelé (a rarity in Sin City that Dandelion makes fudgy at its custard-like center), and those looking for added decadence should not pass-up a s’more that is torched-to-order. Featuring handmade marshmallows, this campfire classic finds an added dimension of flavor from a honey cinnamon graham cracker and rich chocolate ganache. For added texture, they’ve added a dash of Maldon salt to make the flavors pop.
Dandelion also collaborates with other artisans on truffles, Brazilian brigadeiro and caramels, and if one inquires nicely a sample of most items can be provided. For guests looking to take something home, be sure to ask a knowledgeable sales associate for guidance. If you ask us? Choose at least one bar after a bit of sampling, and either a “Two-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cup,” “Black Sesame Seed Toffee Brittle” or both.
Dandelion Chocolate is located near the front desk of The Venetian at 3355 South Las Vegas Blvd. Open daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. 1-415-349-0942.