You don’t need to leave Arcadia to feel like you’re on the other side of the world. Authentic, international eateries act as portals, “teleporting” those who enter into alternate cultural dimensions that stimulate all the senses, not just the taste buds.
Although they represent cultures from opposite hemispheres, A T Oasis Coffee & Tea Shop and Sweet Land Cakes are separated by just one block near 48th Street and Thomas.
These two establishments offer distinctly different menus, but they do have things in common. Both serve as genuine communal hubs. Both have gregarious and passionate owners and both are reflections of the culture from which they derive their identity.
Sweet Land Cakes is a Puerto Rican bakery that specializes in providing cakes and pastries for weddings, quinceañeras and other events. In addition to catering, Sweet Land Cakes’ storefront location offers individual pastries, Puerto Rican groceries, Cuban sandwiches and full Puerto Rican meals on the weekends.
Among the bakery’s most popular offerings is a quesito, which is a flaky pastry with a creamy filling.
“It’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten. It’s called a ‘whoa that’s good’,” said customer Jessica Cline.
Owner Ben Charvest moved to Arizona from Puerto Rico 12 years ago in hopes of finding a more secure financial future. He worked at Costco until three years ago, at which point he decided to open his own bakery. Although he always knew he had a knack for baking, he admits that the degree of success of he’s experienced thus far at Sweet Land Cakes has surprised him.
“We are so busy. People love my cakes and pastries. I can’t believe it,” Charvest said.
Less than half a mile west on Thomas, A T Oasis Coffee & Tea shop was opened in 2013 by Aisha Tedros and her husband Abdul. Aisha moved to the U.S. from Africa in 2002 and gradually grew to miss the daily rhythm of her life back home. In Ethiopia, each day is organized around three coffee ceremonies, where friends and family relax and take time out of their day for each other.
In an effort to bring this tradition to Phoenix, Aisha opened her coffee shop and offers coffee ceremonies to a local audience that has been more than receptive.
Ginger coffee, the traditional drink of Aisha’s native Ethiopian tribe, and the chai tea are the two primary drink specialties at A T.
“I gather the spices for the chai, some from India, some from the Middle East. They are all natural and organic,” Aisha said. “The ginger is from Africa as well, but it is not like it is here, it is a unique ginger. It is different.”
The bakery’s pastry recipes come from Aisha, past and current employees as well as customers. One of the place’s most popular offerings is the “Don” scone, which is named in memoriam of the late regular who came up with the recipe.
A T Oasis and Sweet Land Cakes are both owned and operated by people who are passionate about bringing their local community the pleasures of their homeland and Arcadia has welcomed them with open arms.
A T Oasis
4613 E. Thomas Road
Sweet Land Cakes
4747 E. Thomas Road