Best British Bakery 2023 | The Great Gadsby Bakery | Food & Drink | Phoenix

Custard trifles, mini banoffee pies, Bakewell tarts, millionaire's shortbread slices and sausage rolls are tasty treats for Americans to try. For Brits, they are an essential taste of home. Walking into The Great Gadsby Bakery in Gilbert is like a sigh of relief for those homesick for the flavors of the U.K. And the bakery isn't just serving standard versions of these hard-to-find treats. The baked goods made here are exceptional. The sausage roll has a golden, flaky, buttery pastry that envelops a rich meat filling. The caramel used in many items is cooked to the perfect point of gooey, salty toffee-flavored goodness. And the tarts are made with precision more frequently found in French patisseries. The bakery can sell out early, so we recommend getting there before lunch and ordering a box of pastries to go and a hot sausage roll to eat on the way home.

For a bread lover, Proof Bread is sourdough heaven. The current rendition of the bakery launched in 2017 when married couple Jon Przybyl and Amanda Abou-Eid bought the popular artisan brand from Jared Allen and shifted operations to their own garage in Mesa. Devotees so love their crusty, chewy sourdough creations that they flocked to contribute thousands to an online fundraising campaign that helped Proof move into a Mesa storefront in 2021. In July, the company opened a second location, this one in Phoenix's so-called Sheaborhood. Their sandwich loaf is without the puff and holes you find in typical sourdough loaves, with the butter and brown sugar used to help it rise giving it that special Proof taste. Don't fret — there are traditional sourdough loaves, too, sitting on shelves alongside a multigrain version, baguettes, muffins and buns. Nearly everything in the place has a sourdough base, even the pizza and sweet treats. Even with the storefronts, Proof stays true to its roots and still offers its baked goods at several farmers markets around the Valley.

To be sure, bagels — the traditional ones with a crusty shell and chewy inside — are the star at Bagelfeld's. But the quirky business and its owner, Brooklyn-born chef Charles Blonkenfeld, add to the experience. Blonkenfeld started boiling and baking bagels during the pandemic and gained exposure at local farmers markets and a handful of restaurants around the Valley. Local bagel aficionados took notice, often depleting his daily supply, and helped Bagelfeld's become so popular that it earned local and national accolades. The bakery and small retail area sit inside a nondescript brick building tucked at the rear of a parcel along Thomas Road. The menu boasts eight regular offerings — from plain to everything and blueberry — with a special fennel raisin bagel offered only on Saturdays. The storefront opens early at 6 a.m., yet still regularly sells out before closing time a few hours later. Your best option is to review their FAQs and then order online the day before. They don't answer the phone.

Judy Nichols

A good cookie is a powerful thing. It can transport you to your childhood or create a new happy memory. It has the power to sweeten your day. And at Urban Cookies, the baked beauties are just the right amount of sweet. A little salt joins the party to create craveable cookies that will leave you dreaming of your next visit. Make sure to try the classic chocolate chip made with milk and dark chips, the double chocolate sprinkled with big flakes of salt, the colorful confetti and the sweet and cinnamony snickerdoodle. Sugar cookies come in the format of buttery shortbread shaped into cute saguaros or seasonal snowmen. Stop in throughout the year for a selection of flavors to meet any occasion.

Jacob Tyler Dunn

Remember that saying about eating dessert first? Well, the pancakes at Otro Cafe make a strong argument for eating dessert for breakfast. These flapjacks come single or in a short stack and topped with fresh berries or chocolate chips. But the real winner is the Cajeta Flapjacks. This decadent breakfast starts with fluffy pancakes topped with fresh sliced bananas and creme fraiche. The whole thing is then drizzled with a dizzying, salty-sweet cajeta caramel and sprinkled with candied peanuts. It's rich, sweet, salty and over the top in the best way possible. Otro starts service at 8 a.m., meaning this dessert can be a very good way to start your day.

In our current age of wild, over-the-top doughnuts laden with toppings, there's something to be said for a doughnut shop that keeps it simple. At Dutch Donut Factory in east Mesa, some of the doughnuts have sprinkles. That's about it as far as bells and whistles go, but when the basic element is this good, you don't have to slap a bunch of stuff on it. All the classic varieties of doughnuts are represented here — plain, glazed, frosted — as well as other mainstays like cinnamon rolls, bear claws and apple fritters. They're excellent warm if you get there in early in the morning or later in the day, with just the right texture and sweetness.

Evie Carpenter

There's no shortage of ice cream shops in a place that sees more than 100 days over 100 degrees, but Sweet Republic's three shops continue to be where we love to cool off and indulge in inventive, sometimes surprising and savory flavors. Founded 15 years ago by Helen Yung and Jan Wichayanuparp, the ice creamery endures as a favorite with items that delight, from its Campfire S'mores Sundae to root beer floats. At the center of it all is hand-spun ice creams and sorbets. We're partial to salted caramel swirl and bananas Foster, but find ourselves coming back to try rotating seasonal flavors like sweet corn and dill pickle.

If you're fortunate enough to try authentic gelato in Italy, you'll probably spend the rest of your life looking for a similar version in your hometown. Phoenicians can stop searching, because Cool Gelato Italiano is in their backyard. Owners Alberto Della Casa and Leticia de Lucia, native Italians, began their foray into the food industry by working as consultants for various groups. They traded their desk jobs to make gelato and haven't looked back. They bring their knowledge of gelato and make it on-site. Some favorites include raspberry and Meyer lemon flavors; the sweetness isn't overpowering and the texture of the gelato is light and airy. But the fruit varieties aren't the only offering. There are choices like chocolate and hazelnut as well. The owners feature 20 varieties daily, and customers will feel like they're eating flavored clouds while sitting inside or on the outdoor patio. Try it once, and Cool Gelato Italiano will quickly become your go-to gelato spot.

From Airheads to Zotz, if you want to find candy from the current times or decades past, Sweeties probably stocks it. The size of a small supermarket at 13,000 square feet, it's a sweets superstore in which customers can find everything from elusive black licorice brands to an impressive selection of Jelly Bellys and so much more. Whether you thrill to find Necco wafers and Moon Pies or tins of Hello Kitty candies, it's all here. And if you want to make sure, you can search the website before you go and even order online. It has a robust selection of Mexican and sugar-free candy, too, and a mind-boggling lineup of sodas. In the back corner, there's an area of nostalgic toys and games that includes dozens of Pez dispensers — but don't dawdle too long there because there's so much to see in the candy aisles. Pro tip: Sweeties puts holiday-themed goods on clearance once the season has passed; check the shelves at the back.

Chris Malloy

Jim and Maureen Elitzak, owners of Zak's Chocolate, know how to turn a hobby into a successful business. Since 2015, they've been making and selling made-to-order chocolate bars, truffles, bonbons, peanut butter cups and caramel turtles. The chocolates are made with locally sourced ingredients and ethically sourced beans. Everything is done by hand, from sorting through the cacao beans to the packaging, which adds that special element to any chocolate that you choose. The products taste distinctly different from each other because the beans come from different regions, but everything is exquisitely delicious. The product line also includes items like drinking chocolate, chocolate whipped honey and cacao nibs. Zak's ships their goodies nationwide, but if you're a local customer, you'll need to put in your order online or over the phone before arriving at the shop; they're currently only open for pickup.

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