Ground Control’s cuisine reflects the cosmopolitan lifestyle of its owner, Sean, who offsets his nightly bartending with daily travels as a professional pilot. He and his wife, Tara, have also lived abroad, a sojourn that developed their taste for European dining. Now settled in Arizona, executive chef Chris Ibarra still satisfies their cravings—and those of their patrons—with scoops of house-made gelato atop stuffed crepes, short ribs braised in Guinness, and custom wood-fired pizzas crowned in ingredients such as roma tomatoes, duck, and gouda. Open for three meals a day, the eatery also anoints glasses with exotic ingredients by serving rich espresso drinks, creative cocktails, and sippy cups of water from the Fountain of Youth. Live music fills the space every Friday from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Tropical Smoothie Café whips up freshly blended fruit smoothies and wholesome café fare. Low-fat smoothies such as the Hawaiian Breeze transport landlocked taste buds to an exotic isle surrounded with a zesty blend of pineapple, orange, and nonfat yogurt. Supplement boosts populate supercharged smoothies such as the Lean Machine, which powers bodies with a mix of strawberries, banana, and weight-management and energizer supplements, plus three drams of raw horsepower.
Though she focused her early life on becoming a classically trained musician, Leiticia Rice also dabbled in airbrushing and painting at a young age. It wasn't until a birthday party in 2012, however, that she thought to channel her talent for visual art into cakes. As she faced rapidly increasing demands for her unorthodox pastries, she founded Ritzy Cakes—where today, she and her staff make cookies and cake-based treats with a focus on bold colors, quirky imagery, and accurate maps of long-lost treasures.
Leiticia tops cookies with marshmallow fondant and fondant characters, and forms red-velvet, chocolate-fudge, french-vanilla, and yellow cake pops into a range of shapes and sizes. Her most popular baked goods are her cakes, in which she blends her own imagination with the ancient symbols of the Antoinettes, a French cake-worship cult. Using 14 cake flavors—such as chocolate fudge, cream cheese, and peanut-butter fudge—she crafts multilayer confections in shapes such as silver shoes, gilded skulls, masquerade masks, and flower-covered gardens.
He spots her from across the room; a mask-clad enigma. Fellow partygoers wink in and out of focus as a strobe light pulses and he draws closer. Finally, he tears away the mask to reveal … a single tier of chocolate cake. Inspired by eccentric songstress Lady Gaga and topped with a mask ripped straight from the music video, Cakepop Couture's Poker Face cake is a prime example of the over-the-top confections that get owners Nicole and Chris's creativity flowing and partygoers hitting on inanimate objects. The cake exudes a signature flair shared by each of the shop’s cake pops.
Infused with flavors that range from traditional chocolate and red velvet to snickerdoodle and key lime pie, each dessert is baked and decorated to-order.
Deena, the woman behind Sweet Life Gluten Free Bakery, was diagnosed with celiac disease eight years ago. At first, she had difficulty finding gluten-free foods. As time passed, though, she became more skilled at interpreting labels and converting her favorite recipes into wheat-free versions.
These days, Deena prepares a variety of goods in her fully licensed home bakery, leaving out common allergens such as wheat, yeast, dairy, eggs, and peanuts. Customers can request cakes, cupcakes, cookies, scones, and other sweet treats, as well as paleo breads and granola bars or batches of egg-free pizza dough. In addition to baking, Deena can help clients with recipe conversions or shopping advice.