Café 8 in Mesa Listens to Gluten-Free Customers
Judy Nichols The gluten-free French toast at Cafe 8 is sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with a side of bacon.
When one of the young dancers from the next-door studio wandered into Café 8 in Mesa, and announced that she couldn't eat gluten, Tracey Chaker gave her one of the gluten-free cupcakes out of the display case.
"The next day, she came back, tugged on my chef's jacket, and said, 'I never thought I could have another cupcake, and that was the best cupcake I ever had,'" Chaker said. "She said, 'Can you make me something else?' So I made chocolate-chip cookies."
Café 8, a tiny, family-owned gem with a handful of tables, wasn't envisioned as a gluten-free Mecca. But it is now.
Judy Nichols The gluten-free quiche at Cafe 8 has a crisp, flaky crust.
"I just kept getting a lot of people coming in, asking for gluten-free things, so we listened to our customers," Chaker said.
I stumbled into Café 8 when a friend and I were shopping in Mesa and wanted to grab lunch.
The first thing I saw was the bakery case with a big "Gluten-free" sign on it. It was filled with chocolate cupcakes decorated with candy corn and gluten-free "autumn" cheesecake, pumpkin with a cinnamon apple topping. Life's short; always order dessert first.
But I had to take my desserts home because, while I was there, I had gluten-free French toast, which I hadn't had at a restaurant since I was diagnosed with Celiac disease. I also had some bites from my friend's pork sandwich on gluten-free bread and tasted the gluten-free quiche with broccoli, red peppers, and Portobello mushrooms.
It was a gluten-free smorgasbord.
Chaker and her husband, Alex, also own Gilbert-based Grizzly Foods, offering homemade granola, flavored balsamic vinegars, and Sticky Monkey Bun pastries in farmers markets throughout the Valley.