Hunting for the Goods

Honey Moon Sweets Bakery offers a variety of petite desserts. Photo by Jessica Heigh.

If you have ever found yourself yearning to dig into a warm, homemade fruit pie that slides off the edges of your fork, scoop up petite desserts that are adorable and delectable, or munch on a cookie that must have fallen off the clouds of — then I know the feeling. That’s why I went on a hunt through Tempe and Phoenix to find bakeries and cafés that could steal my heart with the smell of their sweets and satisfy my cravings — and hopefully yours as well.

Here are five bakeries and cafés that I had the pleasure of visiting. Of course, Tempe and Phoenix hold other bakery treasures, but this is all my heart and stomach could handle for now and couldn’t wait to share.

Tammie Coe Cakes
I have only visited the Roosevelt Road location. I like to call it “baby” Tammie Coe, because it has barely any standing room and squeezes itself between other storefronts. But don’t let its size fool you.  They have daily lunch specials, amazing bread, treats and delicious coffee. What really takes the cake, though, is their cakes. I’ve purchased a couple for friends and family and let me tell you, not only do the cakes look incredible, with unique fondant icing creations and colors, but also the cake itself is high quality. Plus, it makes you look good for having such awesome taste.

My personal favorite is the “Zebra.” And yes, the icing is zebra print with a red ribbon wrapped around it. The inside is chocolate cake with white chocolate mousse and raspberries. (Thinking about your next birthday cake, yet?) Quality doesn’t come without a price tag, of course. Even if you get the “Itty Bitty,” which is plenty for a few people, expect to dish out $24.  Is it worth it, you ask? I don’t think that’s even be a question.

Tammie Coe Cakes – Arcadia
4140 North 40th Street, Phoenix
602-840-3644

Tammie Coe Cakes– Roosevelt
610 East Roosevelt Street, Phoenix
602-253-0829, tammiecoecakes.com

Lux Central
This is not just a once-crammed coffeehouse that has since turned casual restaurant and wine bar. It’s a powerhouse of taste. Lux Central — formerly just Lux, when it was a café about the size of a small art studio — has homemade goodies that sit there and tease you behind a thin layer of glass. 

Their coffee is infamous, too, but no matter how good that latte is, it begins to look lonely without something sweet beside it.

You may try to deny it at first, like I did the last time I went there. I ordered my hot latte that came out in a cup as grand as a soup bowl. I walked back to my table, looked at that bowl of coffee, and thought, my order is not complete.

So I walked back up to the counter, and saw a slice of pumpkin pie behind the glass giving me the eyes like a puppy at the pet store. I can’t fight it, so I get it.

“It’s good!” The man behind the counter says to me as he puts it on a plate for me.

“Oh, there’s no doubt in my mind,” I reply.

I take that puppy back to my table and my taste buds go crazy between the coffee and the pumpkin pie. I have no hesitation saying that it is the best pumpkin pie I have paid money for. (My grandmother won’t let me pay for hers).

But a piece of pie so delicious demands a price. Expect to indulge in a slice for $4 and some change.

Lux Central
4400 North Central Avenue, Phoenix
602-696-9976, luxcoffee.com

Bertha’s Café

This café is tucked away like a treasure in the corner of a plaza located on the northwest corner of Indian School Road and 32nd Street. Walk up to it, though, and you will never forget it. I happened to visit it during a lunch rush in the middle of the week. My eyes were glued to the pastry display case most of the time, but when I was able to pull my eyes away, I saw people chowing down on the sandwiches. While waiting in line, the lady ahead of me notices me holding the menu like it was a map to gold. “Do you have a favorite?” she asks. I reply, “Well, not yet — this is my first time.” Then she points to the Asparagus and Havarti Panini. I take one glance at the ingredients in this signature sandwich: oven roasted asparagus, pesto mayo, roasted red peppers, Havarti cheese, ham or chicken, then declare, “I am definitely coming back for lunch.”

But I was here on a mission: satisfying that sweet tooth. I grab a couple house-made doughnuts and a colossal chocolate peanut butter brownie. My grand total was about $4. (Now, that is sweet.)

The square-like doughnuts covered in sugar are perfect for dipping in your coffee.

And that brownie? Please, do yourself a favor and share that chunk of super-sweet melt-in-your-mouth chocolate and salty, creamy peanut butter with someone. It is thick, it is good, and it’s a sin to keep it to yourself.

Bertha’s Café
3134 East Indian School Road, Phoenix
602-955-1022, berthascafe.com

Honey Moon Sweets Bakery & Dessert Bar

Walk into this bakery and your heart will swoon. To the right is a consultation room for wedding cakes filled with cake models that will have you dreaming. Finally, you will snap out of it and step forward to the display case. There are so many petite sweets, you will have a hard time choosing one dainty treat over another. Just to name a few of these delicacies: there are cream puff swans, fresh fruit tartlets, mini cupcakes, mocha opera bars and petite cheesecakes.

I didn’t go miniature, though.  I spotted a full-size pumpkin whoopie pie, and my heart was set on it. (Yes, I am in love with fall, so pumpkin is my escape.)

A whoopie pie is a fun treat — two layers of cake with icing in the middle. Sort of the child of an ice cream sandwich and a cake.

On the bottom of the display case were nine-inch fresh-made fruit pies: apple streusel, blueberry, and more. Priced at $13 a pie, you may want to share the cost and the slices with someone, but it’s a great choice for a party or holiday.

There is something adorable about this bakery besides its petite-sized goodies, though: The owners and bakers are a couple that fell in love during culinary school, making the name as memorable as their sweets.

Honey Moon Sweets Bakery & Dessert Bar
606 West Southern Avenue, Tempe
480-517-9520, honeymoonsweets.com

Essence Bakery Cafe specializes in myriad macaroons. Photo by Jessica Heigh.

Essence Bakery Café
I happened to land in this café around noon, so I found myself in the line of another lunch rush. But I didn’t complain. How could I, when right in front of me were the most darling and delicate macarons I have ever laid eyes upon?

Because I am a chocolate maniac, I go with the French Chocolate one, appropriately nicknamed the “Chocolate Mac.”

Another perfect date for your next coffee drink, the creamy chocolate found in the middle will turn into hot, melted chocolate as you try not to consume it in one intense bite.

Another macaron that will catch your eye is the Rasberry Macaron. It is the color of Crayola’s “Tickle Me Pink” crayon and will dance in front of your eyes gorgeously.

The awesome part is you can get a small one for only $1.40 and large for $3.25. You can buy the macarons by the box too, which I suggest if you plan to eat in front of someone else.

Also, the croissants here are infamous. You can get a perfectly flaky butter, double chocolate-bar or almond-filled croissant.  And I guess you can expect that when they are made by Eugenia Theodosopoulos, who used to make them in Paris.

Essence Bakery Café
825 West University Drive, Tempe
480-966-2745, essencebakery.com

Contact reporter at mfidura@asu.edu