When Food Network producers recruited Urban Cookies for Cupcake Wars, there was one stipulation, according to the Phoenix New Times: co-founder Brady Breese had to do something about his bakery’s name. After all, the reality show pitted cupcakes, not cookies, against each other. So Breese reverted to OllieCake, the original name of his gourmet cupcake business. And as luck (or perhaps more accurately, skill) would have it, OllieCake took home the crown on its episode of Cupcake Wars. At Urban Cookies, Breese, a self-taught baker, invents all the cupcakes himself—coconut, orange blossom (a Cupcake Wars champion), and even brown velvet, which is like red velvet, except it is made without food coloring and won't attract angry bulls. But it was a dark chocolate walnut cookie that first inspired Brady and his wife Shaun to go into business. Brady had baked the so-called “Urban Cookie” for friends and family for many years to wide acclaim. With the cookie recipe as a starting point, and a pantry and fridge filled with mostly organic, local ingredients, the husband and wife team started baking in the kitchen of a local nonprofit, eventually expanding the menu to include muffins, scones, breads, pastries, and full-sized cakes by custom order. But despite their success, Brady and Shaun never forget the role the community played in their shop's early days. And so they frequently give back by supporting various area non-profits, including Kitchen on the Street, which provides meals to needy children.
Lauded as "Tucson's most celebrated chef" by the New York Times, and the Best Chef in the Southwest by the James Beard Foundation, Chef Janos Wilder has been perfecting his craft for more than 40 years, as evidenced by the simple, elegant cuisine at his latest venture, DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails. After cooking his way through high school and college, Wilder's travels whisked him to the mountains of Colorado, where a three-year residency as a chef at a historic inn propelled him into a lifelong appreciation of locally sourced ingredients. Sojourning to Bordeaux, France in the early ?80s, Janos worked among Michelin Guide Award?winning chefs, where he learned firsthand about French cuisine and techniques.
Returning to the States on a mission to put to his French experiences to work, Janos landed in Tucson. Quickly realizing that the local gardens produced chilies, beans, and squash, he explored ingredients such as prickly-pear cacti, mesquite flour, and Wily Coyotes native to the Southwest landscape. In 1983, his first restaurant, Janos, opened its doors, and there, Wilder pioneered a menu that fused southwestern ingredients with classic French dishes. Today, DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails employs some of those same techniques, drawing from other regions such as Asia to craft fish tacos drizzled with r?moulade, dark-chocolate-and-jalape?o ice-cream sundaes, and a host of imaginative cocktails.
When Angie's friends laid eyes on the extravagant themed cakes she made for her children's birthdays, they started asking her to whip up specialty creations for their own young ones. As Angie crafted more and more cakes, it became her passion and her solace. After seven years, she was finally able to quit her old job and start a Lil? Somethin? Sweet.
From its spot within the Superstition Springs Center?s food court, the bakery serves up muffins, cinnamon rolls, cake pops, and other treats to shoppers and emaciated mannequins. In addition to selling single-serving pick-me-ups, Angie sculpts 3-D and tier cakes for special occasions such as weddings, and continues to design the kids? themed cakes that first fueled her confectionary dreams. She also custom decorates cupcakes and cookie cakes that come with flavors and fillings such as peanut-butter cup and bavarian cream.
If Cork's name doesn't give you enough indication of its focus on wine, just walk inside. There, you'll see the wine wall, a 25-foot-long, climate-controlled "cellar" that spans from the floor to the ceiling in full view of the dining room. The bottles that line this wall are nothing to scoff at: Wine Spectator has given the selection its Award of Excellence for the last four years. The wine list's excess of 400 options represents just a piece of Cork’s carefully curated cuisine, however. Sommelier Robert Morris and his pastry chef wife, Danielle, join forces with executive chef Brian Peterson to create ever-rotating menus for dinner, happy hour, and dessert. Though dishes typically change with the seasons, they always represent new American cuisine with a hint of European influence. Peterson makes sure to select the freshest and most flavorful ingredients to create these dishes, rejecting any produce that comes from a can or shows its age by speaking in Shakespearean English. Cork also serves up a once-a-month, four-course themed dinner, as well as a Sunday brunch on Easter and Mother’s Day.
Named for owner Mae Collins's granddaughter, Kimberly Ann's Victorian Tea Room & Cafe sets lace-draped tables for courtly ladies of all ages with a menu of freshly baked scones, light lunch fare, and petite sandwiches. Smaller rooms throughout the café's quaint, home-like interior add coziness to teatime, such as the Grand Victorian room, which is crowned by an elegant tea-set lamp and lined with shelves displaying decorative teapots and boutique items available for sale. The lavender-drenched Garden Room makes an ideal backdrop for Sunday-brunch conversations about the growing popularity of chartreuse pantaloons, and the Princess Room is adorned with magenta-upholstered chairs and sunhats fit for little ladies.
With at least 24 hours' notice, the staff will set tables for high tea, served on elegant tiered platters, and reservations can be made for Princess High Teas—replete with tiaras, cupcakes, and goodie bags—for celebrations of girls' birthday parties. Kimberly Ann's is a favorite destination of the Red Hat Society and regularly hosts events such as an annual April Fool's Day buffet, a holiday open house, and the most elegant of arm-wrestling competitions.
From its humble beginnings in Kankakee, Illinois, in 1938, Dairy Queen has grown from a delicious experiment in soft-serve ice cream to a household name with more than 5,900 restaurants around the world. The shop's signature frozen delights are built upon a frosty foundation of creamy chocolate or vanilla soft serve, which swirls idyllically into cones, cups, overturned top hats, sundaes, Peanut Buster parfaits, and the chain's iconic Blizzard treats, blended with crumbled candy and other mix-ins. Ice-cream cakes cleverly conceal a surprise filling of fudge and chocolate crunch between layers of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, providing sweet, sliceable sustenance for birthday parties and other special occasions.
Fruit rules the roost on the other side of the slushy emporium, where Orange Julius blends its signature frothy drinks crafted from fruit juice, ice, and a "magic” powdered sweetener that explains why they disappear from most customers’ cups minutes after the first delicious sip. Real fruit purée forms the basis for the shop's smoothies, which also come in diet-friendly light versions that boast 150 calories or fewer.