Sometimes a restaurant emerges with a whisper, quietly building a following without fanfare (or marketing). Sometimes, these places are worth seeking out.
Such is the case with Squarz Bakery in Tempe.
Set deep in a residential area, far from the hustle and foot traffic of Mill Avenue, this little restaurant has far more charm than a strip mall joint should have. A row of stools run along a wide window, along with a couple of two-tops inside and a scattering of patio seating.
The concept for Squarz was born in 2011. That's when Steven Gerner started selling classic British hand pies at local farmers markets. In 2015, he opened a small brick-and-mortar bakery.
Cute and casual, the sunny shop has a stack of Mason jars next to a water cooler, where you can fill your own glass. A small pastry case next to the register features his equally excellent croissant variations. Behind the registers, you can peer into the kitchen, where puff pastry is rolled and manipulated on floured surfaces.
Gerner offers a wide variety of frozen hand pies to take and bake at home. At the shop, he keeps five pies ready to cook to order.
Encased in a light, flaky, almost croissant-like crust, there is a bacon and egg pie, which is usually sold out by lunchtime, along with a spinach-feta that tastes like a giant Greek spanakopita; a homey shepherd's pie stuffed with mild minced meat, corn, and potatoes; chicken pot pie bursting with stewed chicken, peas, and carrots; and a bay-heavy chicken-mushroom.
An order comes with a good-size hand pie along with chips or fruit for $9.49, or two hand pies for $13.49.