Best Neighborhood Breakfast, Tempe - 2012
Essence Bakery Cafe
In a downtown jam-packed with beer, frozen yogurt, T-shirt shops, and places to get your nails done for $10, it's a relief to know a civilized breakfast awaits. Best known for her amazing French macaróns (and quickly gaining notoriety for her croissants) chef/owner Eugenia Theodosopoulos presides over a fabulous morning menu in a lovely, low-key setting. On a nice day, sit outside and pretend you're in a big city as cars whiz by the University Drive café. Order the organic granola or the brioche French toast. The French eggs are divine, and the Croque Madame (a twist on the classic with Gruyère cheese, tomato, and fried egg) is wonderful, too. The coffee is fresh and strong, and the bakery case is always stocked — so go ahead, grab a macarón to go.