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BEST CUPPA HOT CHOCOLATE Phoenix 2005 - Cowboy Ciao

Cowboy Ciao

Cowboy Ciao

7133 E. Stetson Drive

Scottsdale, AZ 85251

480-946-3111

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The folks at Cowboy Ciao are good cooks and good writers. Their menu is a work of art, with funny quotes from customers ("Sprinkle my ashes over Cowboy Ciao"), thorough descriptions (the Buffalo Carpaccio is rubbed with espresso and cumin) and creative names (an octopus/spinach mix is called the Big Biceps Salad).

But no name, no description, can do justice to our favorite dessert at this cowboy-chic spot. The menu dutifully lists the ingredients of the Cuppa Red Hot Chocolate: cinnamon-spiked chocolate pot de crème with chipotle crema, ancho chile honey, and cayenne-spiked ginger cookie. But nothing will prepare you for the impossibly thick chocolate (custard, pudding, mousse? We're at a loss, but it's the richest chocolate you'll ever taste) beneath a foam of what looks like the top of a cappuccino. Put a bite in your mouth and you'll immediately taste the cinnamon, then the chocolate, then a hard kick from the chipotle.

We give up. We can't describe the experience. You'll just have to trust us. Try it, and you'll be at a loss for words yourself, trying to explain to friends and family why they absolutely must run over to Cowboy Ciao for, um, a cup of hot chocolate.

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