Among the brunch options in downtown Phoenix, Carcara's sweets stand out | Phoenix New Times

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Best Bites: When eating brunch at Carcara, don't miss this sweet standout

End your brunch on a sweet note with this can't-miss pastry at Carcara.
The interior of Carcara is anchored by a 14-foot tree.
The interior of Carcara is anchored by a 14-foot tree. Sheraton Downtown Phoenix
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Welcome to Best Bites, a series where we celebrate not a whole restaurant or menu, but one specific and amazing dish. These bites have something to say and we are listening. Keep reading for dishes that are seriously worth the trek across metro Phoenix to find. Dig in!

Weekend mornings at Carcara are abuzz with activity. Under a towering 14-foot tree strung with warm lights, hotel guests enjoy breakfast, bachelorette partiers start their morning with mimosas, and locals stop in for a peek at the glamorous hotel bar.

The restaurant opened in early 2022, replacing District American Kitchen at the massive Sheraton Phoenix Downtown hotel. The dining room sits on the corner of Van Buren and Third streets, with open floor-to-ceiling windows inviting passers-by to stop in. Fake trees laden with plastic oranges line the patio and hint at the Arizona-centric restaurant within.

The name, which comes from the cara cara orange, is also part of the theme of Arizona's five C's (cattle, copper, cotton, citrus and climate) that carries through the restaurant's decor and menu.

The breakfast and brunch options include hotel restaurant staples such as a berry parfait, oatmeal and the All American plate, a classic combo of eggs, potatoes, bacon or sausage and toast. But the restaurant also leans heavily on Southwest and Mexican-inspired regional fare.

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Brunch highlights at Carcara include the savory Pop Tart.
Tirion Boan
Highlights include the Pop Tart, a breakfast pastry that skips the usual sweet fillings for a hearty stuffing of bacon, eggs and cheddar cheese. A hint of sweetness joins the party thanks to a pepper jelly drizzled on top.

If you're sharing with friends or starting a day of bar hopping around downtown Phoenix, go for one of the Brunch Boards. These large plates come in options starring pancakes loaded with toppings; salmon, cream cheese and mini bagels to build your own lox sandwiches; or heaps of protein, including bacon, turkey sausage and ham.

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The chocolate cinnamon roll is a standout sweet at Carcara.
Tirion Boan
But no matter what else you order, make sure you leave room for the decadent, pillowy soft swirl titled Brittany's Chocolate Cinnamon Roll.

This isn't your average breakfast pastry. Rather than layers of bread with chocolate added in between, the dough itself is chocolate flavored, giving the whole roll a rich dark brown hue. The bread is light and fluffy with a strong but not overly sweet chocolate flavor. The cinnamon still shines through, and the blend of chocolate and spice is reminiscent of Mexican hot chocolate.

On top, a buttery, orange-spiked cream melts slowly into the warm roll and is studded with bright cubes of candied orange and dark chocolate shavings. The crystallized sugar crunch and bitter orange essence of the candies cut through the sweet buttercream and adds a fresh, local flavor to the dish.

Whether you enjoy dessert after a decadent breakfast complete with cocktails or just stop in for a coffee and a pastry, the cinnamon roll is sure to be the highlight of your day.

With its dining room outfitted with orange trees, terra cotta accents, copper light fixtures and a menu filled with regional specialties, Carcara celebrates local flare and gives hotel guests a taste of Arizona. From that taste, the chocolate cinnamon roll takes the cake for the best bite.


Sheraton Phoenix Downtown
340 N. Third St.
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