Visiting a bakery is one of life's most simple pleasures. From bakeries nestled inside restaurants to huge ones that churn out what feels like an endless supply of goods, each has its charm. In addition to a warm atmosphere that's usually just the right thing to boost your mood, cookies, cakes, pies, and croissants are pretty much guaranteed to leave you feeling happy.
Lucky for us, metro Phoenix is home to some sweet spots. From bakeries that specialize in whimsical cakes to traditional Mexican desserts, every spot on this list is worth a visit.
Karl’s Quality Bakery has been in business since 1994. The long glass case at this bakery in a Sunnyslope strip mall is the stuff a sweet tooth’s dreams are made of. The building itself—with tall ceilings—feels as vast as the offerings and though the interior is basic with just a few glass cases and tables, the goods here speak for themselves. You can find pies, cookies, fritters, tarts, breads, muffins, brownies, and more goods than we have room to list in addition to the bakery’s take on Dominique Ansel's infamous Cronut. Karl's Kronuts feature a sugared and crisp doughnut with a tart lemon filling. And you don't even have to wait in an hours-long line to get one.
Tammie Coe Cakes has a prime spot right on Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix and features just a handful of chairs and tables outside. Inside, your eyes will probably be drawn to the whimsical cakes that look almost as if they’re made out of fabric instead of fondant. Owner Tammie Coe trained as a traditional pastry chef and considers herself to be part chef, part artist — an attitude you can see in her stunning cakes. But if you’re searching for a decadent dessert that’s just sinful enough, try the signature Ooey Gooey cupcake. The rich, moist cupcake comes topped with one inch of buttercream and is the perfect way to indulge. The case is also packed with brownies (our favorite includes the red velvet ones topped with bright red sprinkles) or marshmallow Krispies. Cookies of the sugar, chocolate chip, and oatmeal variety also make an appearance. Consider pairing your sugary treat with some smooth third wave Intelligentsia coffee.
When The Bakery PHX owner Lisa Levinson first attempted to bake her grandmother’s signature apple cake, the results were, in her words, “horrible.” The pie was sour all over and downright bad. The entire experience made her want to close the oven for good, but luckily for us, she kept at it. Her business has since grown from her own kitchen to a stand at the Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market to a brick and mortar location off Bethany Home Road that's been open for more than a year. The tiny shop feels quaint, modern, and homey and let's you stock up on brownies, cookies, danishes, croissants, sticky buns, or cupcakes, as well as offering a wide selection of specialty pies. Pie options rotate daily and feature classics such as banana cream, apple, key lime, blueberry, and chocolate. Take home a mini one if you don’t have the appetite for a whole or consider trying the upscale red velvet Twinkies. The chilled chocolate covering gives way to most red velvet with a cream cheese filling that puts Hostess to shame.
La Purisima Bakery
Get ready to wait for all the great goodies at La Purisima Bakery, located just on the edge of Glendale. A sign in English and Spanish on the wall will let you know that the bakery's products don’t last because all the ingredients are so fresh, not that these delicious treats would last very long in our house anyway. Purisimia feels like a baking factory that churns out a high volume of baked goods, fast. And, yes, you'll probably have to wait to be served, but not for too long. Expect traditional offerings like cakes and cookies alongside traditional Mexican sweets like pan dulce and flautas. The vanilla sweet bread, one of our personal favorites, is light, flaky and never overly sugary. Oh, and be sure to bring cash as Purisima doesn't accept cards.
Husband and wife team Tim and Joan O’Connor opened Honey Moon Sweets in 1996 and proclaim that all their goods “are baked with love.” Half wedding cake showroom (if you sit inside, be prepared to see many people coming in to inquire about or pay for wedding cakes), half retail and bakeshop, Tempe’s Honey Moon Sweets serves up more than just good cakes. Expect to find plenty of treats filled with sweet tooth-satisfying ingredients like hazelnut and chocolate. The tower—essentially a square-shaped mini cake covered with a layer of chocolate lined with hazelnuts and filled with an inner layer of peanut butter surrounded by moist chocolate cake—was a perfect single serving cake.
Essence Bakery’s light-filled space just off Indian School Road is the perfect place to spend the afternoon. Small details like a giant green stand mixer add just a touch of quirk to an otherwise elegant spot. Chef and owner Eugenia Theodospoulos trained in Paris where she learned the fine art of making like pastries, croissants, and French macarons — and the macarons are the stars of Essence’s glass case. Essence's palm-sized chocolate macaron (the bakery also offers miniature ones if you’d prefer to try a few different flavors) comes filled with a sweet chocolate center that's sandwiched in between two flaky meringue shells. The bakery's original Tempe location is also worth a visit, though its smaller and tends to get crowded during the breakfast rush.
This Scottsdale shop’s décor is just as whimsical as its signature (and nationally recognized by the likes of Martha Stewart) cakes. The black chalkboard wall behind the counter, the bright pink ceiling, and white shelf stocked with chocolate bars, baking supplies, and examples of the shop’s wedding cakes make for a dreamy setting. Not to mention the oversized faux cupcake that’s the centerpiece of the bakery. Guests searching for picture-perfect cupcakes, pies, and cakes will find that and more here. The signature small cakes topped with rosettes are darling and the Oreo-crusted pie filled with chocolate cream is one of the most decadent creations we've ever had. Seating is alfresco-only, but you’ll want to show off your delicious creation as onlookers drool as they walk by.
Half restaurant, half bakery, Casa Filipina offers a surprisingly wide selection of baked goods that are all worth the extra calories. The noteworthy cheese rolls share space in the pastry case with éclairs, cookies, chocolate mousse towers, pan de leche, and other baked goods. If you’re looking to try classic Filipino desserts, Casa Filipina has you covered. Options like the Brazo de Mercedes, a jelly roll made out of baked meringue filled with custard, or pan de coco, a roll with coconut filling in the center, are sure to wake up taste buds that have been dulled by doughnuts and cookies. The éclairs are particularly good, and with a flaky crust and sugary filling, it’s easily one of the best versions in town. You’ll also want to bring cash with you if you plan on purchasing just a baked good or two since the bakery will only take credit cards for larger purchases.
Urban Cookies is a standing room-only joint and sometimes the wait can be long, but it’s always worth it. And don’t let the name fool you: just about everything that comes out of this ten-year-old establishment is delicious, not just the cookies. The bright bakery displays cookies, Instagram-worthy cupcakes (one of which won Food Network’s Cupcake Wars), and baked donuts. The signature urban cookie is textured just right with the chocolate chips, walnuts, and oatmeal mixed together in a way that makes for one satisfying crunch each time you take a bite. And the baked doughnuts are moist and cake-like, a fun variation on a treat that can get kind of old if you eat too many too often. For a real deal, head here during happy hour on Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. and Mondays from 3 to 6 p.m. for half-priced cupcakes and cookies.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.