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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day Trip: Tcho Factory Tour in San Francisco

This is a guest post from Jill Engel, awesome mom and a Bay Area native.

Photo courtesy of NiallKennedy/Flickr

Last week, my sister and I took our kids down to the San Francisco Embarcadero (Pier 17 1/2) to a young chocolate factory/store called TCHO (the phonetic spelling for the first syllable in chocolate).  What a delightful hour and a half we had at TCHO!  (please note, TCHO moved to Berkeley in March, 2014)

Our experience began with a video that told us the history of chocolate, showed us the company's various chocolate bean fields and taught us how chocolate candy is made. We then got to put on nifty hair nets so that we could walk around the factory and see the great candy machines in action. Last but totally worth waiting for...the tasting.  
Photo courtesy of Tonx/Flickr

We stood around the table and learned the importance of breaking chocolate in half and giving a sniff before you place the delicious pieces of heaven ever so gently on your tongue. As we let the chocolate melt in our mouths, we would intensely discuss the flavors we were experiencing. The kids were as into this adventure as we were.  

Photo courtesy of Ekai/Flickr

Of course we had to buy some chocolate bars to bring home, so we could teach Daddy how to properly taste this divine chocolate!  

Photo courtesy of Ekai/Flickr

TCHO was easy to get to. We drove, and parked at the Embarcadero, but there are several parking lots on the opposite side of the street from TCHO. Another option is to take BART and get off at the Embarcadero. It's about a 20 minute walk from the BART station. Don't forget to walk through the Ferry Building and enjoy all the specialty stores. We brought our lunch and sat out at cement tables and chairs and looked out at the Bay, Coit Tower, the Transamerica building and had fun people watching along one of SF's most beautiful areas. This free tour is worthwhile and a fun outing for people of all ages (note, kids must be 8+ to tour).

Tours: public TCHO tours daily at 10:30 and 2. Make sure to arrive at least 5 minutes before the tour starts, or they may release your spot. The tour lasts an hour. Here's complete TCHO tour information.
Private Tours: Private tours are $100, for groups up to 29. They run daily at noon and 3:30.
Reservations: Make a free reservation here to guarantee a spot on the public tour (there are 29 spots per tour), or just show up and take your chances.
Age: Kids must be 8+ to tour.
Additional info: Wear closed-toe shoes. You'll need to leave your bags, cell phones, jewelry, watches etc. in bins outside the factory. You'll have to wear a hair net, beard guard (if needed) and earplugs.

Where: Pier 17 at Embarcadero and Green Street
Hours: factory store hours are 9-5:30 Monday-Friday, 10-5:30 on Saturday-Sunday.
Public Transportation: MUNI or BART to Embarcadero station, walk 10-20 minutes north
Parking: Embarcadero lot, lot at Pier 17 or Pier 19
Cost: Free

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