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by Daniel Walker
In recent years, donuts (a.k.a “doughnuts”) have expanded well beyond the standard plain-glazed golden rings of sugar and flour. Donuts have been given new life by some terrifically talented bakers all over the nation. If you’re a donut fiend, here are 10 donut shops you absolutely must add to your bucket-list:
Dough in Brooklyn, NY: Drawing inspiration from European and Latin American flavors, pastry chef Fany Gerson is proving that even doughnuts deserve the artisanal approach. You’ll want to suck down at least a dozen of these plump, airy yeast doughnuts that come to you adorned in some seriously seductive glazes…like hibiscus, lemon ginger, and chocolate with Earl Grey. But it’s probably their passionfruit glazed that most often gets Brooklyn residents out of bed and into this doughnut shop. (photo source: doughbrooklyn.com)
Blue Star Donuts in Portland, OR: More than anything else, it’s the delicate brioche dough forming the base of every Blue Star donut that truly sets them apart. In line with the food-philosophy of many other Portland eateries, you’ll find Blue Star’s donuts being assembled from sustainable flour, cage-free eggs, local whole milk, and organic fruit glazes. That’s all nice, but the bottom line is, they taste great. And did we mention they’ve got a cream-filled donut equipped with its own small syringe of injectable Cointreau orange-flavored liquor? Yes…it’s legal. We checked. (photo source: seriouseats.com)
Hypnotic Donuts in Dallas, TX: Owner James St. Peter began building his loyal following of donut lovers by making “underground” donut drop-offs at various random locations in Dallas…forming what would become known as the “Underground Donut Alliance.” But that was years ago, and his fan base has only continued to expand. Why? Because he sells the funkiest, most fun donuts in the city. Take the “Vampire Weekend,” for example, with chocolate cayenne mousse and horchata icing. And their signature, “Evil Elvis,” with peanut butter, bacon, banana, and honey is one of life’s best ways to beat the munchies. (photo source: endoedibles.com)
Doughnut Plant in New York City, NY: By now, most donut fanatics have seen Mark Israel’s face at least a time or two on any number of national TV shows…and his shop, Doughnut Plant, is arguably the most recognized name in gourmet donuts in the country. Israel’s signature square yeast donut has propelled him into near doughnut sainthood in the eyes of his devoted followers. You’ll never get bored with their regularly rotating list of exquisite seasonal flavors. But do not make a trip there without sampling their heavenly creme brûlée donut. (photo source: sweetcarolinescooking.files.wordpress.com)
Top Pot Donuts in Seattle, WA: They celebrate the art of “hand-forged,” real, honest American donuts. They promote many classic flavors (the plain glazed, sprinkles, apple fritters, and plain cake), but all done with care and precision. But they often go beyond the expected and offer up flavors that you don’t commonly see either. Try the chai spiced cake or the lemon glazed old-fashioned. You’ll be hooked. (photo source: overworkedunderfed.blogspot.com)
Gourdough’s Donuts in Austin, TX: Unlike most other donuts, Gourdough’s cranks out enormous fork-and-knife-required creations topped with incredible and purely gluttonous combinations. Their texture is a bit more like a scone than your traditional yeast donut, but it suits them well. Sweet donuts are always a safe bet (try the “Funky Monkey” with grilled banana or the “Son of a Peach” with peach filling and cake mix topping), but they even venture into the savory side with items like the “Mother Clucker” (fried chicken strips and honey butter) and the “Porkey’s” (with Canadian Bacon and jalapeño jelly). (photo source: gourdoughs.com)
Dynamo Donuts in San Francisco, CA: Located in the blossoming Mission District of San Francisco, folks line up nearly all day long to sink their teeth into Sara Spearin’s creations. Spearin began her donut experimentation in her home kitchen, tweaking and shaping her recipe for the perfect donut. Luckily, she’s nailed it. Dynamo’s donuts are seasonal with fresh ingredients…but it may be the “maple glazed bacon apple” that best typifies their flare for the non-traditional. Bacon is found on donuts everywhere these days…but Dynamo probably does it best. (photo source: justfoodphotos.com)
The Doughnut Vault in Chicago, IL: A place frying up hot donuts everyday of the week, with a donut special that changes daily. You’ll soon find ways to justify eating fried dough for breakfast every morning just to try the daily delight…things like the Orange Cream Old Fashioned, Lemon Poppyseed, Birthday Cake, or Salted Caramel with pecans. You won’t find it too difficult to convince yourself to drop by as often as possible. (photo source: jacklynlovesdonuts.tumblr.com)
Federal Donuts in Philadelphia, PA: It’s fried dough and fried chicken under one roof. Sure, it sounds like a cardiologist’s nightmare…but it’s also a donut lovers dream (moderation in all things, folks!). And while they’ve got “donuts” in their name…you’d be foolish to pass on their chicken. Donuts come in fancier, more exotic ready-made varieties, but if you’ve got the time, nab some of the “Hot & Fresh” sort. Made-to-order cake donuts, fried up and rolled in a variety of flavored sugars. It’s a nap-inducing, slightly naughty nibble that’s going to bring you back on a regular basis. (photo source: afar.com)
Round Rock Donuts in Round Rock, TX: There is nothing quite like the odd faintly phosphorescent orange glow of a hot, plain glazed donut from Round Rock Donuts. Sitting just outside of Austin, this donut shop has become more than just a simple pitstop for highway-goers…its a donut destination for folks all over the country. (photo source: rockrounddonuts.com)
Have you tried any of the donuts or shops on our list? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!
Daniel Walker is a native of Salt Lake City, but has spent his last few years obsessing over food in Dallas and Little Rock. He currently writes for the Arkansas Times reviewing restaurants and contributing to the food blog “Eat Arkansas.”