Hole Lotta Love
From Blue Star Donuts to Firecakes, the best new doughnut shops in the country
You can't keep a good doughnut down.
You can smother it with maple-glazed bacon. You can dress it up on a dainty restaurant dessert menu. You can even pervert it by crossbreeding it into a particular Franco-stein monster, about which you've heard enough by now. But you can't really improve on the righteous rightness of a ring of lighter-than-it-should-be, airy fried-osity topped with a crackly crown of pure glazed sweetness.
"I think that really everyone in the world has their own relationship to fried dough," says Michael Solomonov, the Israeli-American chef who, in addition to the spectacularly good modern Israeli restaurant Zahav runs Federal Donuts in Philadelphia. "For me, it's having doughnuts at 8 a.m. on the boardwalk. Or yeasted sufganiyot [Israeli jelly donuts] on Hannukah. These are memories I am forever trying to relive."
Federal Donuts pairs its doughnuts with twice-fried Korean chicken and Japanese pickles--which tells you everything you need to know about the moment doughnuts are having on the American dining scene right now.
Doughnut shops are popping up all over. To stop you from feeling glazed and confused, we tasted our way through the current crop. Or, for some fry porn, watch our video of Corey Cova rolling and dipping his wares at New York's newest, Dough Loco.
Put a Bird on It
The Northeast is experiencing something of a fried-chicken-and-doughnuts renaissance. In addition to Federal Donuts--which has plans to expand to other cities soon--Washington, D.C. has two new spots where you can get your sweet-and-savory fried action on: Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken and GBD, which stands for Golden, Brown Delicious and serves key lime curd-filled brioche doughnuts and bird by the bucket.
Anyone remember Spudnuts, the near extinct doughnut chain that specializes in gooey potato-flour donuts? We do, but they're hard to find outside of a few L.A. holdouts. Johnny Doughnuts in San Rafael, CA brings back some of the magic with a 1920s dough recipe using mashed potatoes. He uses it to make lemon curd bismarks and vanilla doughnuts with chocolate sprinkles. In Portland, ME, Holy Donuts uses Maine potatoes in its mix too. They've been known to do a Maine lobster doughnut--but we forgive them for that.
Choose your own toppings at Donut Friend, music producer Mark Trombino's shop in L.A., or go with inspired house suggestions like "The Spanish Bomb," a sugar-glazed doughnut filled with Manchego cheese and quince paste.
In NYC, Dough Loco serves zippy miso-maple and blood orange iterations on the Upper East Side. Chicago's Firecakes stands out in a sea of local 'nuts for quality ingredients and sophisticated versions of the classics. At Blue Star Donuts in Portland, OR, they fry brioche dough and top it with with chocolate ganache, graham cracker crumbs and homemade marshmallows. 'Nuff said.
Retro-ver the Top
Glam Doll Donuts in Minneapolis, MN, has a retro pinup girl vibe with a menu to accent those curves: see the Chart Topper (peanut butter and Sriracha) or the Girl Next Door (Provolone and Muenster cheeses). Glazed Donut Works in Dallas, TX turns out amped-up versions of classics, such as the peanut butter-and-bacon-stuffed Elvis Killer and grilled cheddar cheese doughnut sandwiches.