Courtesy of Essence Bakery
True story: A friend was in town from back east, staying at a Tempe hotel. Went to the front desk, asked for advice about where to grab breakfast. The clerk recommended a place we won't name here, but if you've lived in Tempe for more than five minutes, you are familiar with it — it's been around forever, a little grimy, attracts the natives like flies. An okay post-hangover standby, but not the place you'd send your fancy friend. As our friend tells it, he set off down University, in search of eggs. Luckily, he was headed west, and he's observant. "What's this cute-looking place?" he asked himself. "Maybe I'll stop in."Our friend was lucky, because that cute place was Essence — about as different from that other place as you can get. Essence is a real treat, and we're not just talking about the pastry case, though if you like, we could talk about the pastry case (namely, Essence's famous French macarons) all day. No, we're here to discuss breakfast. From the housemade granola to the hot breakfast cereal to the Quiche Lorraine, every dish is exquisite. Not so hungry? Grab one of Eugenia Theodosopolous' croissants, which are quickly giving the macarons a run for their money, reputation-wise. Really, you can't go wrong here, whatever you order. Just go.