By Kathy Montgomery | Photograph by Paul Markow
Stumbling across Paradise Point Café in Cottonwood is as surprising as finding the chewy center of a Tootsie Pop for the first time. Its owners call their restaurant “Old Town’s sweet retreat.” Patrons call it a hidden gem. And it is.
The tiny bakery and bistro lies at the end of a narrow breezeway that’s been transformed into an unexpected oasis, with a burbling fountain, glass-topped tables and fragrant jasmine vines. Inside, the café exudes a tranquil Eastern vibe with low lighting, floral cushions and dark tables. Even the restroom is concealed, behind a bookshelf that opens like a secret door — a holdover from a wine room that operated like a speakeasy.
Al and Ladonna Smith and their daughter, Eden, opened Paradise Point as a bakery in November 2014. Having recently moved from a suburb of Philadelphia, the Smiths loved the dining in Cottonwood but saw dessert lovers as an underserved market.
“So we came up with the idea of having a spot just for dessert,” Eden says. “It’s kind of evolved since then.”
The Smiths built a loyal following with their baked goods, including the café’s signature carrot cake and salted caramel apple pie, made with house-made caramel. The walnut pear coffee cake with vanilla rum glaze often sells out before noon.
Eden is gluten intolerant, and Al and Ladonna are diabetic, so they wanted to offer desserts to accommodate a variety of dietary needs. Fans from Sedona have been known to make the half-hour drive just to get a slice of the paleo German chocolate cake — made with coconut oil and coconut flour and sweetened with maple syrup. The carrot cake is gluten free. Eden sometimes tells skeptical guests that if they can tell the difference, it’s free. So far, she hasn’t given away a single slice.
The Smiths have since added savory items, including a breakfast pie, with bacon, cheddar cheese, hash browns and eggs, served with a fresh fruit and yogurt parfait. Lunch items include a strawberry spinach salad and a spinach, leek and red pepper pie.
Cheeseburger pie, the Smiths’ playful take on the American classic, began as a dish Ladonna made for the family. Al loved it, insisting she reproduce it for the café. Like a cheeseburger, it’s served with pickles, mustard and ketchup. Daily soups include gazpacho, with cucumber, basil and mint, in summer; and potato corn chowder, vegan vegetable, and apple butternut squash during colder months.
Eden contributed playful organic coffee drinks with names such as Mocha Retreat, Peanut Butter Paradise and Tropical Oasis, as decadent as desserts in their own right.
Call Paradise Point Café what you will; the one thing everyone can agree on is just how sweet it is.
Paradise Point Café is located at 1029 N. Main Street in Cottonwood. For more information, call 928-634-5901 or visit www.facebook.com/paradisepointcafe.