Jewel's Bakery and Cafe: Go for the Baked Goods Not the Cafe

Anyone who's been meaning to check out Jewel's Bakery and Café might make haste. Not because there's no better place than this East Thomas Road diner for gluten-free breakfast and lunch fare, but because it's hard to believe this place is going to be open much longer. The service and the food (baked goods aside) at this place are so dreadful, it's a wonder they've managed to stay open at all, these past six months.

The brainchild of Jewel's Cupcake Shop owner Julie Moreno, the bistro grew out of that Internet-only bakery. Moreno opened her cozy, neatly decorated cafe in December; her daughter Justine, whose gluten allergies inspired Moreno to learn to bake without wheat flour, is the chef and restaurant manager.

"When I needed to go gluten-free for my daughter, I thought, 'Why should she have to eat stuff that tastes weird or the texture is off?'" Julie Moreno tells me. "Also, I've got six kids. I needed to figure out how to cook and bake so that I was just making one thing for everybody, not something special for each one. My challenge was, how do I cook but not hear them say, 'Ew! Is this gluten free?' I wanted them to say nothing but 'Thank you.'"

Breakfast at Jewel's!
Jackie Mercandetti
Breakfast at Jewel's!

Location Info

Map

Jewel's Bakery & Cafe

4041 E. Thomas Road
Phoenix, AZ 85018

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: East Phoenix

Details

Jewel's Bakery and Café 
4041 East Thomas Road
602-714-5243
www.jewelsbakeryandcafe.com
Hours: 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Berries 'n' Baby Lettuce Salad: $9
Southwest chicken salad: $8
Thai flatbread: $10
Grilled cheese sandwich: $6
Jewel's Bakery and Café

That desire led Moreno to creating, as she put it, "a restaurant that was something other than a place where people with allergies could go to eat their weird food."

Julie's baked goods are wonderful. But Justine has been less successful than her mother at making "weird food" taste better. Her less-successful menu of gluten-free and vegan lunch and breakfast items falls mostly flat. While it's nice that people with food allergies have a place to go for lunch, I — a person who can digest wheat flour just fine — would return only for Jewel's cupcakes and cookies, which are excellent and not over-sugared, like so many altered dessert items tend to be.

I've enjoyed Mom Moreno's candied bacon cinnamon roll, a perfect combination of sweet syrup and salty bacon that tastes surprisingly like the real thing. Her scones offer that rare mix of dense cakiness and flaky softness, without being dry or too crumbly. And her sticky buns sure don't taste anything-free: moist, sticky-sweet, dripped with slightly tart icing, they're better than most I've tasted made with wheat flour.

Justine Moreno may not be the best, but she's a smart businessperson: Her mom's delicious desserts are displayed in a gleaming chrome case next to which all counter-service orders are taken. A larger display case next to this suggests that Moreno plans to sell something else (Rice milk? Gluten-free yogurt?), but every time I visited, the case was empty.

So was the restaurant, for the most part, when I recently stopped in for breakfast. Local businesspeople came for to-go orders of coffee and sweets, but I stayed for Biscuit Plates and Hash, a confusing description for what appeared to be biscuits and gravy. Bland gravy, and leaden biscuits, as it turned out. I asked the young man who took my order how the side of hash made from bacon, sausage, and chorizo was gluten-free — was it made from turkey or maybe gluten-free pork? He wasn't sure, which was discouraging in a place that specializes in such specific fare. Regardless of what it was made of, the hash was spicy and filling. And cold.

All was not lost: The wheat-free pancakes were fluffy and light, with a nutty flavor and a nice dollop of warm apple-cinnamon compote. The cinnamon raisin roll was moist and cakey and went well with a hot, black cup of Cartel coffee.

On a second visit, I ordered the BLT, but I can't tell you how it was because I was served instead a limp and greasy grilled cheese sandwich. I suppose it's possible that gluten-free bread doesn't grill well, but can one blame celiac disease for limp slices of flax? A nicely roasted red pepper added a pleasant kick, but it was plopped into the center of a melted mélange of cheddar, mozzarella, and havarti, so I only got to taste it in one or two bites. Better were the tissue-paper-thin potato chips, too many of which were smothered by the slippery sandwich plopped on top of them. Those I rescued were light, crispy, and perfectly salted.

The Berries 'n' Baby Lettuce Salad was notable only because it combined so many different things — strawberries, raspberries, organic beets, and scoops of soft goat cheese, served with a side of balsamic — and yet was somehow so flavorless.

The cheesecake I ordered for dessert was also crowded with ingredients — toasted coconut; mini chocolate chips; a moist, dark chocolate crust; all slathered in a caramel glaze — that obscured a smooth and slightly tart tower of sweet, cheesy filling. The carrot cake cupcake was a success: moist and carroty and smeared with a generous dollop of tart cream cheese frosting.

My third and final visit was also a fiasco. After my companion and I ordered a flatbread pizza and a pair of salads, the young fellow manning the cash register told us the credit card machine was broken, and he could take only cash. Who carries cash? Companion and I were able to rustle up the almost 30 bucks between us, but when our food was delivered, there was only one salad. Our waiter the cashier headed back to the kitchen to find our mislaid kale Caesar, and when he returned, he announced that he hadn't rung up a second salad, and because he still couldn't accept credit cards, we'd have to give him another $14 in cash. I thought for a moment about heading out in search of an ATM to pay for still more disappointing food, but didn't.

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22 comments
wendydoc
wendydoc

Sunflower   GREAT points!!!!

I had posted another comment yesterday that seems to have disappeared.......

Of course it was a positive one in regards to this wonderful cafe.   It sure makes you wonder....

Isnt it AMAZING  that NOT ONE person has agreed with your snarly review?????

Chicabelle
Chicabelle

For a minute there, I thought perhaps you, Mr. Critic,  had partnered with Miley Cyrus.  (I came at you like a wrecking ball).  As the song plays in my mind, I'm wondering if you actually went to Jewel's, or did someone relay second hand information to you? I ask only because you got so many facts wrong.  No, Justine is not celiac, but another member of their family is.  I won't reiterate on the other errors, because others already have.


I know that Jewel's is totally committed to providing good, safe food for those who are celiac or gluten intolerant.  They do hundreds of hours of research on ingredients, knowing that every single little ingredient that they use has to be gluten free.  Out of the injustice of having had a family member diagnosed as celiac, sprang a strong desire to develop delicious recipes this family member couldn't have otherwise.  This, in turn, grew into a desire to help others with the same condition.  And so, Jewel's Bakery & Cafe became a reality.


Mr. Critic, have you been there when a customer cried at learning that he or she could eat anything on the menu without getting sick?  Have you been there to see the hundreds of happy, satisfied customers?  Or when someone takes their first bite and exclaims, "This is so good, it can't be gluten free!"  Invariably, when I eat there, customers start up a conversation with me just to say how happy they are that Jewel's has opened.  So Jewel's must be doing something right.


It's a given that not all dishes come out of the kitchen perfectly, in any food establishment.  But I've been witness to how Jewel's handles the situation to the customer's advantage.  As the serious minded, fledgeling food establishment that they are, they do everything possible to please the customer.  


All things said, I give you some credit for recognizing the superiority of Jewel's baked goods.  At least you didn't throw the baby out with the bath water with your wrecking ball.  This alone might grant you absolution, and maybe they'll even tolerate you on another visit in the future.  From what I hear, they're still working on their summer menu.  It's true, they're always working on getting even better.


Ciao for now.  I'm off to Jewel's Bakery & Cafe for one of their delicious salmon sandwiches, and who knows what else.  I can't wait!


Sunflower410
Sunflower410

Upon reading this review by Robrt (is that how your name is REALLY spelled on the birth certificate, or is this an attempt at being "cool") of JBC, I had to sit back and laugh. The writer's attempt at being a food critic and investigative journalist falls short. His 2nd mistake was getting Justine's name incorrect. Anyone reading up on the other (rave) reviews or understanding the importance of stating facts, would have known the mother- daughter duo do not share the same surname. 


Anyone would be proud of a 23 year old who has taken a route of responsibility. Instead of frequenting frat parties at ASU, being featured on ABC15's trashy weekend photos of Scottsdale happenings or expecting mommy and daddy to pay her bills- Justine has worked side by side for the last four years with her mom in various aspects of the business. She has aspired to attend a professional culinary school, but cannot afford it and refuses to take out loans or have her family pay for her education. Justine painstakingly plans menus for family gatherings, friendly cook- outs and this business endeavor. These are HER creations alone- tested out on family and friends who would AND have provide honest feedback. I have to wonder what qualifies "Robrt" as a food critic. Did he just wake up one morning and decide that he would never achieve the Pulitzer, so instead he would combine his disdain for people with the desire to crush others' dreams? And the stupid comment about never carrying cash? OMG! The credit card machine wasn't working! Are you telling me, RobErt, that when all you need at Circle K is a $.79 Thirstbuster, you pay by credit card? You must also be the guy who leaves a $5.44 tip on a $44.56 at a restaurant. You also complain about the "waiter". For someone who has been there three times- the critic is clueless. Jewel's is a fast casual establishment. You walk up, order your food, pay, go sit down and as an added bonus, someone brings you your food. 


Then the critic comments that it was slow all three times. Was he there the weekend of Pat's Run when there was a 40 minute wait out the door? Was he there during lunch on the Tuesday I was there and struggled to find a table? Was he there the weekend I took out of town visitors and people were steadily streaming in and out? Is everyone expected to just pop a squat before work to drink their coffee? No? Okay then. I have looked at this author's other writings and he is essentially a negative person on all his reviews. Maybe the problem is YOU. Because you are the common denominator in all these complaints.

Aaron Wood
Aaron Wood

Wow what a horrible fucking review. Does this reviewer even know the difference between his elbow and asshole when it comes to gluten free food? Jesus fucking Christ this article is like watching a monkey wipe his ass while dancing to Justin Beiber. I can't believe this hack actually got paid for this article. Send someone else who knows what gluten free food is all about and send this reviewer hack back to elementary school.

Sara Bissell
Sara Bissell

Obviously you have no idea how allergy tests work. They do stick tests on different areas of your body with the allergen on the needle. Most people who think they have gluten allergies just eat really crappy to begin with. True celiac disease is actually not common at all.

Jennifer Koury
Jennifer Koury

Eat here often & love all the food- from bakery & cafe. Also they were just voted top 5 places to eat in Acadia by New Times???

Nikki Robinson Matcuk
Nikki Robinson Matcuk

Why get tested if you know something you eat makes you feel shitty? And if you never eat it...they can't test it wont give correct results. Jewels is awesome for at least trying, and they have the best rosemary bread ever! Better than gluten filled stuff. :-)

mommytoo5kids
mommytoo5kids

My son has celiac and I am gluten intolerant.  We have eaten at Jewels several times and have not been disappointed EVER.  Both the meals and the desserts are superb!  To be able to eat in a cafe and not worry about cross contamination is a God-send.  To have it tastely splendidly on top of that is a dream come true.  Keep up the great work, Julie and Justine and the entire crew!

Sara Bissell
Sara Bissell

The writer gave them 3 chances. I agree with almost everything the writer said(we didn't get a chance to try their baked goods so I have no opinion on them). We went there once. Service was terrible, layout was badly planned, wrong order was served, when the right order was sent out it was cold. Food was overcooked and undercooked on two different orders. I understand the need for gluten free food(although most people who say they have a gluten allergy haven't actually been tested for it) but just overall this place is not good. Sorry jewels but we won't be returning and neither will any of our friends.

csthomp36
csthomp36

My family and I ate at Jewel's Bakery and Cafe in the latter part of January of this year. My daughter has Celiac Disease and there are not a lot of choices for her to pick in which to dine at in the Phoenix metro area. We ate breakfast and it was awesome. The food was fresh and hot, a genuine delight in which we were excited to partake. The service was excellent, the staff friendly and knowledgeable, and the dining experience outside on the patio was nice and private as we were the only ones seated outside for the longest time. I would recommend Jewel's Bakery and Cafe. I don't think you will be disappointed. I really hope her business continues to flourish and grow through the years as she is so deserving of this.

tallredhead3
tallredhead3

WOW!  I eat here a lot.  And by a lot I mean a lot.  I would say that Mr. Pena seems to have a bit of an issue with Justine.  I know her personally and she does not have celiac!  Her sister does.  So right there is an error in this article.

The next thing that I don't understand is WHY a gluten free person, you know, someone who HAS to eat gluten free, didn't do this assignment.  There are a few thousand eating establishments that he could review.  

I would not say that Jewel's is perfect but I will say that I have taken several gluten abled people there who really enjoyed the food.  I will say that being one of the only gf ONLY places in the entire state, that Jewel's is better by FAR than it's only competition.  And I have eaten at both companies.

I will say that there may be some inconsistencies but I think that it takes a while for established restauranteurs to get a new establishment going.  So for first timers I am quite in awe of Julie's family.

 I have been a customer of hers for over three years.  I have taken cooking classes from her (so I know the quality level of ingredients she uses), and have partaken of the most amazing baked goods which stand up, and surpass, to the old gluten filled ones I've consumed in the past.


The baked potato flatbread is divine.  The in house made chorizo is amazing. The places that she gets her ingredients from are the same vendors that are used in the very upscale "farm to table" restaurants around town that charge significantly more than she's doing. I've had her Greek chicken salad sandwich and I find the chicken very flavorful.  I've had most things on her menu actually and will hopefully be eating them for the foreseeable future!


Since this is one of the few places in the entire metro area that I feel SAFE eating in, I pray she does very well and I will do my part to ensure this.  I feel that the author of the article either was upset that he had to do this story or was having some sort of personal issue here.........regardless I feel bad for Justine and Julie to be portrayed in this light.


They are good people and they are trying to offer those with gluten issues a safe environment.  I will continue to support them in every way. Oh, and the Kale Caesar he quotes as being $14?  That's only if you add salmon for $6.  You can add chicken for $2 and the salad itself is $8.  So, really?



wendydoc
wendydoc

WOW!!!  This is timely!!!  I was there for the first time on Sunday and I couldn't have been more delighted with EVERYTHING - the service was quick and very friendly, the food was to die for. The wait was minimal.  My lemon ricotta crepes with strwberries were more delicious than I had  imagined they could have been.  I also had 2 cookies that were unique in their flavors - one an horchata and a blueberry macaroon that were flaky and so yummy!!!  I also took some muffins home and was so glad i did!!! My satisfaction extended to one more day.  :-)     The cafe's ambience is so eclectic and comforting.  I absolutley adored the mismatched chairs and custom woodwork throughout.   The bathroom was extremely clean. 

I am just in shock as to how someone could have seen this fabulous place with such  bitter eyes...

I used to be a waitress WAY back when and waited on a food critic who turned out to be a fat, angry man... Could this be the same type of thing??

hilaryalane
hilaryalane

I'm glad the writer has no problem digesting gluten, but for those of us who can't a place like Jewels is a Godsend. I've dined there on several occasions and the food was great. ALL restaurants have hits and misses. I'm sorry this writer decided to take such a negative tone in this article.


If you could do us all a favor and stop going to Jewels that would be appreciated. Since you are lucky enough to be able to eat wherever you'd like on a whim there are plenty of options to choose from! Those of us with Celiac disease and gluten intolerance will be happy to continue to support them. :)

celiacandthebeast
celiacandthebeast

I disagree so much that my head is spinning right now! Then again, I am slightly biased because I have celiac disease (as does 1:133 people in the world, and a large GF community in Phoenix) and I adore a DEDICATED gluten-free restaurant (incredibly hard to find in the country). But I love the actual cafe food at Jewel's and I can tell that the same heart that went into making the cupcakes went into making the food. They use fresh ingredients from local businesses. Also, every time I go in - especially if you go early in the morning, during lunch time, or on the weekends for brunch, it is packed. I can only hope that you are wrong and Julie and her restaurant stay open for many years to come. Every time I post about it on Instagram, celiacs from far and wide are SO jealous that we have a place like Jewel's to eat at safely. I can only hope that the gluten-free community in Phoenix will rally around this restaurant and keep it open for years! 

connieidd
connieidd

your comment on the hash..........why would you ask how sausage, bacon and chorizo could be gluten free? They are meat not wheat! Are you concerned that the animals may have eaten wheat?

tallredhead3
tallredhead3

@Sunflower410 You got that right!  I researched him as well and it seems that up until 2012, he did mostly Theater reviews.  I think he must have been told he HAD to write restaurant reviews as well and isn't happy about it.  Nailed it!


tallredhead3
tallredhead3

That's not the only way nor the correct way to test for celiac.  It's a basic blood test not skin test followed by a biopsy or in the case of DH, skin biopsy.  Celiac affects approx. 1 in133 but gluten intolerance is much higher.  Oh, and eating Gf also helps most people who suffer from most AI's (that's Auto Immune disease for those who don't know)  Including but not limited to:  Thyroid disease, Addisons, Crohns, celiac, lupus, Diabetes type 1, DH, GBS, Psoriasis, Raynauds, Sarcoidosis, and the list goes on.........but feel free to spout what you know.

tallredhead3
tallredhead3

Glad that you feel able to know everyone's medical status.  Don't frequent the place if you didn't like it.  We'll be fine!

celiacandthebeast
celiacandthebeast

@connieidd Manufacturers will often use WHEAT or gluten (wheat, rye, or barley) as a filler in products. Yes, deli meat, sausages, etc. can often have gluten in them. 

 
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