10 Great Places to Eat Dessert in Tucson

Tucson is home to a fairly robust selection of neighborhood coffee shops and dessert spots. Whether you're looking for a relaxed college town hang-out or a sophisticated cafe, Tucson offers some great spots for discriminating coffee-drinkers and dessert enthusiasts.

Cafe Marcel, located in the artsy Fourth Avenue Shopping District near downtown, continues to be a local favorite that specializes in crepes, those delicious European-style pancakes stuffed with a variety of fillings. The menu changes frequently, which only adds to the novelty of the cafe.

Another solid Fourth Avenue spot is Chocolate Iguana, a colorful cafe that is part candy store, part bakery and part lunch shop.

A long-time Tucson favorite is Beyond Bread. This local chain specializes in fresh, homemade sandwiches, soups and desserts. You won't want to miss the pastry counter. Don't miss The Back Dough, an indispensable spot for fresh-baked pie. It's located at the Speedway location of the bakery micro-chain.

If you're serious about your Mexican pastries, head over to La Estrella Bakery on the south side, where you can fill up on all kinds of sugary pan dulce, including fresh conchas and fruit-filled empanadas.


HUB Restaurant and Ice Creamery has quickly become a popular downtown Tucson dining destination. The menu is eclectic, fun and always fresh. Starters include a fresh calamari, jumbo lump crab cakes, and pei mussels. The Mac & Cheese is a house favorite. Choose from three varieties on the American comfort food staple: classic, bacon and lobster. Stand-out main dishes include the corned beef hash, made with red potatoes, caramelized onions, bell peppers, asparagus, swiss cheese, two fried eggs--all served with toasted bread. There is also an extensive draft beer, wine and cocktail menu. And for the dessert, try a soft serve treat from the creamery side of the restaurant.

Dolce Pastello Cakes, situated in the newly energized Mercado San Agustin on Tucson's historic west side, specializes in cakes. And, boy are there cakes. The marquee attraction is the homemade pastel de tres leches, a gorgeously moist three-milk cake that is available in several varieties. Aside from an impressive selection of cakes â€" including cakes sold by the slice â€" Dolce Pastello also sells handmade Mexican sweets and tamales. For visitors to Tucson seeking a regionally-inspired dessert, make time on your eating itinerary for a trip to Mercado San Agustin.

La Estrella Bakery is a south Tucson staple, famous as an indispensable source of freshly made flour and corn tortillas. Apart from tortillas, though, the bakery is also a fine source for high quality Mexican pan dulce. The selection runs the gamut from old-fashioned gingerbread cochinitos to brightly colored conchas, and freshly glazed empanadas filled with all manner of fresh fruit. The bakery also takes cake orders, and of course, you can find a nice selection of desserts-to-go. While the 12th Avenue location remains a favorite, the family-owned bakery also has a satellite location at the San Agustin Mercado on Tucson's historic west side.


Brushfire Ice Creamery is Tucson's destination for ice cream treats that go beyond the basic ice cream cone. The shop, which is located next door to the popular Brushfire BBQ Co., features ice cream cones, shakes and malts, ice cream sandwiches, root beer floats, banana splits, and the house creation, Brushfire stackers. There are 24 different flavors available, along with 25 toppings, so you can create your dream ice cream dessert creation. Come here for unusual and thoroughly indulgent flavors like apple cobbler, brownie batter and bourbon candied pecan. The ice cream shop frequently makes seasonal ice cream treats, too.

This excellent creperie and espresso bar serves Tucson's bustling university neighborhood. The cafe is one of the best places in Tucson to enjoy European traditional crepes, crafted with all sorts of fillings and toppings. These scrumptious European-style pancakes are stuffed with your choice of sweet or savory fillings. All sweet crepes are topped with fresh berries, powdered sugar and whipped cream. The menu is always changing, with new fillings introduced all the time. However, you can always count on great ambiance. Cafe Marcel has a peaceful patio, free Wi-Fi and a great espresso bar. The cafe is also a good destination for coffee and espresso.

This unique sweets shop, espresso bar and cafe is located on bustling Fourth Avenue near downtown Tucson. The charming restaurant is home to delicious espresso drinks, specialty sandwiches, and a counter brimming with sweet treats. Come here when you need to get your nostalgic candy fix. There are also fresh baked goods daily. Try the homemade scones, always a delight. For lunch, try the Herby Albacore sandwich, made with an albacore tuna mix featuring celery and low-fat may, then topped with slivered almonds, tomatoes and sprouts. The Chocolate Iguana also features unique gifts and cards, as well as a sunny patio for people-watching.

North Tucson

For a quick bite on your way to work or a day of sightseeing, bypass all those fast food chains and stop at Beyond Bread. The cinnamon raisin French toast is unbeatable, but if you like protein in the morning, try a made-to-order omelette, stuffed full of your choice of meats, cheese and veggies. Lighter appetites might prefer a simple croissant, muffin or scone. Later in the day, opt for a cleverly named sandwich or salad, a slice of dark chocolate cake or a massive cookie. Breads range from specials like Ancho-Chipotle-White Cheddar and Brie-Scallion-Chive to more traditional varieties such as challah and baguettes there are more than 30 breads in the regular schedule, about half of which are available on any given day.

Pie Bird Bakery & Cafe, which is located on the ground floor of the TransAmerica building in downtown Tucson, is a welcome addition to the downtown financial dining and coffee scene. This bakery cafe is a charming throwback to the classic American diner, where you can enjoy salads, sandwiches, a rotating selection of freshly made quiches, soup and a lovely bakery display filled with an assortment of home-baked goodies. Come here for treats like a sweet wedge of pecan pie, homemade bagels and cinnamon buns. The cafe is also one of your best bets for gourmet coffee and espresso in downtown.

This charming downtown cafe, located at the historic Stevens House at the Museum of Art, offers an assortment of breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Fine art hangs on the walls, providing the perfect ambiance for enjoying the down-home breakfast plates and lunch options. The coffee is excellent. Try the house macchiato, or for something slightly different, the lachino (a wet cappuccino with less foam and more milk) is great. Salads, sandwiches and artistan breads are also on the eclectic menu. Don't leave without trying one of the cafe's famous desserts, which include plenty of gluten free options. There is a great brick patio for al fresco dining.

Ice cream flight, anyone? If ice cream is your go-to dessert, a trip The Screamery HandCrafted Ice Cream is pretty much mandatory. As you may have gathered from the shop's name, this is a great destination for homemade ice cream, which is made on-site and doesn't use any artificial ingredients (the shop even boasts the title of first ice cream pasteurizers in the state of Arizona). You'll find all the classic flavors, but the shop's selection of madcap modern blends are what make The Screamery such a, well, scream. There is not really a bad flavor in the house, but some of the shop's signature ice creams include the Bee's Knees (sweet cream and lavender with a fresh honey swirl) and the Cowboy Cookie (a sweet cream base swirled with caramel, oatmeal cookies, walnuts and chocolate chips).


Meet Patricia Escarcega

Patricia Escarcega works as a writer and editor in Phoenix.