For years you've been able to head to Tempe's Essence Bakery to taste a little piece of Paris.
And not just some amateur's version of French pastry -- a 100 percent authentic French croissant, baked fresh every morning just the way chef Eugenia Theodosopoulos learned from her mentor, master baker Jean-Louis Clément.
In addition to being known for those near-perfect pillows of dough, Essence has earned a reputation as a favorite spot for a light, healthy breakfast, brunch, or lunch. Serving dishes like individually sized quiche Lorraine along with Greek spanakopita and a delicious lemon basil and chicken salad, the ever-busy café has flourished.
So years ago, when Essence fans found out Theodosopoulos and her husband and partner, Gilles Combes, were looking at a second location in Central Phoenix, to say people were excited is putting it mildly. Back then the neighborhood around 40th Street and Indian School was just beginning to become a hot spot of the local food scene, but these days, it's easily one of the fastest-developing areas (at least, food-wise) in the Valley.
Alas, the wait would be a long one. The restaurant opened a few weeks ago and has been packed since the start.
"We already have regulars," Theodosopoulos says with a smile as she finishes greeting a pair of them.
Of course, some have followed her (and her food) from the Tempe location, but it's an impressive feat nonetheless.