The Spot: Tea & Toast (Desoto Central Market)
Grand Avenue 602-252-8283
Desoto has high ceilings and ample seating. Scrappy steel, scuffy wood, and worn concrete dominate the airy space, creating a charming industrial atmosphere. Melodious tunes ranging from tasteful top 40 to Paul Simon play. When you open a door to the market from the street, its vibe hits you like a wave.
After ordering, you take your number to a table or bar, and wait. Not many people come in before lunch during the week. During the brunch hour on the weekend, the market gets more bustle and noise. Then, more of the food hall's eateries are open. The main bar even serves a monster Bloody Mary with, immersed in the murky depths and teetering over the rim, a whopping three courses of greasy food.
On weekday mornings, things are quiet. Coffee grinders whir at long intervals. Cars swoosh past, visible through plate-glass windows facing east onto North Central. Carlos Santana's guitar wails, recasting your attention and your mood. Scattered eaters linger, a few out on the patio.
Tea options shift with the months. This one, you'll also find an Oolong Arnold Palmer mixed with strawberry and mint, green tea with peach, and a chamomile Arnold Palmer.
Hot-tea options include more than your plain loose-leaf teas. Tea & Toast can make all kinds of frothy tea-based creations that usually belong to coffee's domain. A green tea latte. A black tea cappuccino.
Toast options are good for a quick breakfast. Yes, there's standard avocado toast. But a handful of more interesting toasts are built on the same crisp, chewy base of inch-thick Noble bread. One toast features mashed banana, chocolate, and toasted hazelnut. Another, ricotta and melon. The most decadent toast is the slice spread with bacon jam and mounded with chopped bacon, a lacy fried egg quivering on top. This one is direct journey to the heart of umami and will bludgeon your appetite in a single piece. It's not a bad way to start a big day.
The Bottom Line: Tea & Toast in Desoto Market is a solid place to get high on caffeine and vibes, and then linger to crank out work, read, or chill before busy life begins again.
Hours: Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Coffee Options: Xanadu, right down the road in Evans Churchill, provides the beans. Tea & Toast uses these beans to make all of your standard coffees and espresso-based specialties.
Juice: It's all about the tea and coffee here.
Drinking Before Noon: The neighboring bar should have what you need.