Don’t let the fact that this place is located in the corner of a strip mall steer you away. It has a unique atmosphere with beautiful artwork and a dark floral wallpaper that you don’t want to miss. Dark Hall Coffee (same owners as The Coronado PHX) specializes in plant-based drinks and pastries. Lattes, cortados and cappuccinos are all dairy-free. They use a milk blend made from cashews and other nuts. They have quite a variety of vegan pasties as well. Lavender & pistachio cakes, macarons, salted chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon rolls and shortbread drizzled with chocolate are just some examples of the yumminess that they make up daily. My favorite are the galettes. I’ve seen fig apple, peach and blueberry. I love the fruity gelatinous center of the pastry and it pairs well with my coffee. This isn’t the largest place so maybe plan on getting your order to go. Dark Hall is definitely worth a stop in if you are in the area.
I am such a fan of the Phoenix location and St. Francis that I was pretty stoked to hear that chef Aaron Chamberlin was putting a location in the East Valley (closer to home for me). I thought the decision to put a location in a quiet residential part of southern Tempe with no restaurants within a mile was pretty bold for them. They are essentially sending a message that they are going to own this area and be a cafe for the surrounding neighborhoods. I’ll be honest that my first couple of visits during opening month had its issues. The lines were super long and the customer service was working through many kinks. But after a few months, Tempe Public Market is quietly settling in and becoming a staple in this area. The patio area is dog friendly and very spacious. They have plenty of misters for the hot summers and a killer fireplace for the colder winter evenings. I like that beverages (non-alcoholic) are self-serve. They have counter service for ordering your food and seating is open. These are some of those things that makes this place feel like home. So far I’ve had breakfast and dinner here now. The Blue Corn Pancake is fantastic. It’s pretty large but not too filling for a pancake. The Steel Cut Oats are good but a little on the pricey side for me for oatmeal. They also do a community night for dinner on some nights. It’s a 3-course dinner for around $13 that includes salad, entree and dessert. Overall I can see this as a regular stop for me (especially in the mornings on that patio). I love the Farmer’s Market at the Phoenix location and hope that is something that gets incorporated here someday.
If you want anything bread, Great Harvest Bread Co. is the place to go. They cater, take online orders or you can just visit the shop itself and grab a bite. Great Harvest handcrafts bread daily using only pure and simple ingredients and never uses any chemicals, preservatives, conditioners or additives. This place is family owned (Ward and Leslie Walston) and has been serving the East Valley for some time now. I stumbled upon this place awhile back after visiting my dentist next door and ordered a pumpkin roll for a Fall party. Now I stop in regularly here and there for coffee and a pastry (they have a coffee and latte bar). The staff is very friendly and they have little store up front where you can pick up various items like jelly, bread mixes, etc.
I love hanging at 8th Day Coffee & Culture. It’s one of my favorite coffee shops in town. They have great art and great coffee. But what makes them so awesome is their baristas. I’ve gotten to know many of them personally and appreciate how welcoming they are. I had a short stint as a barista and know what it takes to take care of your customers. Shane, Bruce, Amber, Daniel, Juliana, Charith and Elijah – they are all amazing people and I’m thankful for having them in my life. You make my experience at 8th Day unique and rewarding.
Our amazing night wasn’t over. After proposing to Christin, we headed down to Gilbert to have some dessert at Liberty Market. They happened to be closed, so we went to Romeo’s Euro Cafe instead. They had quite a variety of desserts to choose from. We had a delicious chocolate cake and lemon pie with a latte. What a perfect ending to the most amazing night of my life!