Jewel's Bakery & Cafe
Judy Nichols

Even people who aren't concerned about whether their cupcakes contain wheat flour are flocking to this bakery, because Jewel's baked goods are so good. Not over-sugared, like so many dessert items tend to be, Jewel's gluten-free, sugar-free, corn-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegan, and organic treats are magic on a plate.

Check out Mom Moreno's candied bacon cinnamon roll, a combination of sweet syrup and salty bacon that tastes surprisingly like the real thing. Jewel's scones offer a rare mix of dense cakiness and flaky softness, without being dry or crumbly. And pastry chef Julie Moreno's sticky buns don't taste anything-free: moist, sticky-sweet, dripped with tart icing, they're better than most made with wheat flour. We're not thinking about gluten when we eat Moreno's cheesecake, rich with toasted coconut, mini chocolate chips, and a moist, dark chocolate crust, slathered in a caramel glaze that doesn't obscure a smooth and slightly tart tower of sweet, cheesy filling. Don't leave without a carrot cake cupcake, moist and carroty and smeared with cream cheese frosting.

Barb's Bakery
Diana Martinez

Normally, we reserve eating cake for special occasions. But the chocolate cake at Barb's Bakery is so good that we regularly bust out a whole one for events as mundane as Sunday night dinner. And that's not the only irresistible sweet we love from Barb's. The case is always full of the bakery's award-winning decorated iced sugar cookies and cupcakes in a diverse array of flavors including carrot, orange, and classic chocolate. Oh, and did we mention that Barb's carries bread made from local micro-bakery Noble Bread? Sure, the Central Phoenix bakery isn't the fanciest of digs, but that's only because they let the top-quality baked goods speak for themselves.

La Grande Orange Grocery
Courtesy of La Grande Orange

We've said it before and we'll say it again: There is no better English muffin this side of Great Britain — dense and sour, yet still somehow light. La Grande Orange knows how to make the baked good that's become one of its signature staples. Trends come and go (you can now get kombucha on tap or cold brew to go with your buttered bread), but we hope LGO's English muffin never goes out of style.

Baking good bread isn't the kind of thing that can be rushed, and that's something Jason Raducha and Claudio Urciuoli understand. The duo is responsible for Noble Bread, a small-scale bakery that brings Old World techniques to diners. Last year, Urciuoli left his executive chef post at Noca to join forces with Raducha, who had launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $20,000 for a wood-fired mobile bread oven.

Now, they use the oven to make hundreds of loaves a week, none of which are touched by modern machines. The pair goes the extra mile to source heritage and alternative grains from a traditional hydroelectric-powered miller in Northern California. It's not the easiest route, and the process takes three days from start to finish, but for this duo, it's the only way worth baking.

Merci French Cafe and Pastisserie
Heather Hoch

When Duc and Noelle Liao's Scratch French Café closed, our hearts sank like a poorly made soufflé. Luckily, word of Merci followed shortly after. While the décor may have changed, the location and, more importantly, Liao's pastries remained the same.

With all the finesse you'd expect from legit French pastry, the Liaos create whimsical flavor combinations that blend bitter and sweet, aromatic and floral, and bright and dark elements to keep you guessing. Have a croque madame, escargot, or stuffed crepes to start, but make sure you finish your meal by perusing the pastry case, where you'll find raspberry rose parfait, lemon meringue tartes, three-chocolate mousse, baba rhum, and more. The presentation itself is a pleasure, but the decadent yet delicate execution will leave you feeling like French royalty. Bon appetit!

Urban Cookies and Bakeshop
Judy Nichols

In the world of baked goods, one thing is certain: Not all cupcakes are created equal. From fancy chains to casual supermarkets, it seems everyone's offering cupcakes. And often you take a bite at your own risk. Not so at Urban Cookies, where award-winning baker Brady Breese offers an eclectic, creative assortment of cupcakes with one thing in common: They are all delicious. Whether you go for classic chocolate topped with a dark ganache or the out-of-the-box Arnold Palmer (lemon cake with tea-infused icing), you can't go wrong. Waffles and doughnuts may be the new flavors on the block, but we hope Urban Cookies never stops making cupcakes.

Super Chunk Sweets and Treats
Natalie Miranda

Since opening late last year, Super Chunk Sweets and Treats has wasted no time winning us — and our sweet tooth — over with its ever-growing selection of handmade candies and desserts. Owner and confectionary mastermind Country Velador brings sophistication to the idea of a classic candy store by offering one-of-a-kind flavors that appeal to the taste buds of grownups and little ones alike. We love the rich, savory flavor of Velador's blue cheese and fig caramels, as well as the botanical aromas of her black licorice chews. For lighter, sweeter options, try the lemon verbena hard candies or a hand-pulled taffy, which come in a rainbow of flavors and colors that change from week to week. On any given visit, you might catch Velador in the middle of breaking up sheets of delicate honeycomb candy or mixing batches of her signature caramel popcorns. And if you're lucky, she might even give you a sneak peek of what she's working on next.

RaspadoRico
Lauren Saria

As shaved ice replaces frozen yogurt as the de rigueur cold treat, we are on the hunt for creative ways to eat it. If you can dream it, chances are RaspadoRico can make it. The bright shop stocks a rainbow of fresh fruits, chili powders, sweet condensed milk, and ice cream. There are raspados, or Mexican shaved ice (topped with fresh fruits, of course) and even milkshakes, but the bigger draw is the exotic drinks. Think Diablito, or shaved ice with bright red chili powder and chunks of pineapple. We like topping a typical fruity raspado with a scoop of creamy ice cream.

The Stand
Evie Carpenter

There aren't many decisions to make when you're dining at The Stand, the Arcadia burger and taco joint. The menu keeps it short and sweet, just a small selection of tacos and a burger you can customize with toppings. The only real choice you're going to have to make is whether or not to add one of the spot's milkshakes to your order — and if you're as weak-willed as us, the answer is almost always, "Yes." The Stand's salted dulce de leche milkshake is a particular favorite. The über-thick treat is rich with caramel flavor and spiked with pieces of salt. Best of all, it comes with a double-wide straw to maximize your slurping experience.

Doc's Artisan Ice Creams
Lauren Saria

Usually, we're too busy stuffing our faces with ice cream to stop and wonder what's actually in a pint of mint chocolate chip. Fortunately, one chat with Doc Brown of Doc's Artisan Ice Cream changed all that. Brown, a former police officer with a serious love for all things frozen and sweet, started Doc's Artisan Ice Cream with the intention of going big or going home. To Brown, that meant investing the time and money in becoming the state's first small-batch ice creamery, so rather than sourcing his dairy ice cream base from someone else, Brown's able to pasteurize it himself. It gives the ice cream chef total control over every single ingredient that goes into his ice creams, which often also include locally sourced ingredients such as Arizona peaches. The end result is a product that's as transparent as they come. Still don't believe it? Swing by his Tempe space, where he can show you just how the complex machinery works.

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