Never Go into a Dunkin Again: The Best Donut Shops in the United States
Fried dough, sugary glaze, and endless topping options — what’s not to love about a donut? These sweet pastries are the most universal treats in the world. Almost every culture has its own. Regardless of whether they’re called paczki, sufganiyot, oliebollen, or malasadas, they’re all delicious.
There are lots of commercial options around the United States like Dunkin and Krispy Kreme. Unfortunately, they can’t replicate the love and care that goes into donuts made entirely from scratch. Today, we’re going to explore some of the best traditional donut shops around the United States.
Da Vinci’s Donuts – Atlanta
Located in Atlanta, Georgia, Da Vinci’s Donuts made a name for themselves with their unbelievably light and delicious cake donuts. These fried donuts are made with dense cake flour and without additional leavening from yeast. While Da Vinci’s donuts have a good amount of height, they’re on the smaller side. This gives customers a hearty amount of exterior crunch without the guilt of eating a massive donut.
Da Vinci’s Donuts’ most popular varieties are maple bacon, French toast, and salted caramel. However, they offer unique, Italian-inspired flavors like cassata and cannoli. Even better, you can design your own donut and watch as they hand-dip it for you right at the front counter.
Voodoo Doughnut – Portland, Oregon
There’s a real rivalry in Portland over the city’s favorite dessert, the humble donut. Old standbys like Voodoo Doughnut definitely have a distinct edge since they’ve been in operation for 15 years and always have lines out the front door.
Voodoo’s specialty is donuts topped with unique combinations of toppings like their Old Dirty Bastard (a yeast donut with chocolate frosting, Oreo cookie crumbles, and peanut butter drizzle) and the Grape Ape (a yeast donut with vanilla frosting, grape dust, and lavender sprinkles). They also carry R-rated donuts clearly designed for Instagram that are shaped like male genitalia and joints.
California Donuts – Los Angeles
Although this Koreatown shop is blowing up on Instagram, it’s not fair to say that the people at California Donuts are relying only on their looks. The delicious flavors they churn out every day are made with fresh dough and scratch-made glazes. Their more Insta-friendly varieties include an adorable Oreo-flavored Panda donut and the Croissant Donut, topped with a swirl of ombre frosting.
District Donuts – New Orleans
Beignets used to reign supreme in Louisiana. These deep-fried dough pockets were a Creole staple, eaten with rich, dark coffees in restaurants all over the city.
Recently, the Big Easy has expanded its donut game. As such, District Donuts has opened up a few locations in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and surrounding areas. District makes all their donuts and toppings from scratch — including the sprinkles! In fact, they bake up seven different types of donuts every day. Plus, their restaurant has a full menu that includes savory and sweet donut sandwiches like the Croque-Nut (a Croque Monsieur or Madame sandwich made on a grilled donut).
Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken – Chicago
Known for both their incredible donuts and delicious fried chicken, Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken has four locations across the city. Often, this Chicago donut shop combines its two specialties in sandwiches like the Sweet Heat, which is made with a piece of crunchy fried chicken on a glazed donut with spicy maple aioli.
Do-Rite makes yeast donuts, cake donuts, classic fritters, and Danish-donut hybrids filled with sweet cheese. Some of their most popular flavors are the Pistachio-Meyer Lemon and Valrhona Chocolate Cake. For those with dietary restrictions, they carry gluten-free and vegan donuts.
The Doughnut Project – New York City
Located in New York City’s West Village, The Doughnut Project carries some of the country’s most innovative flavors. Some of their current flavors include Punkin & Pecan Crumble, Those Beetz Are Dope (stuffed with ricotta and topped with beet glaze), and The Everything Doughnut, which is a savory donut topped with cream cheese glaze, garlic, and sesame and poppy seeds. Perhaps their most unique is the Bone Marrow, which is only available on weekends and made with bone marrow and chocolate pastry cream and clementine glaze.
General Porpoise Doughnuts – Seattle
Although it’s Portland that’s known as the home of the Pacific Northwest’s best donuts, General Porpoise Doughnuts in nearby Seattle is giving them a run for their money. They make European-style yeast donuts that are all rolled in plain sugar and stuffed with a variety of scratch-made custards, jellies, jams, and creams.
General Porpoise has four locations across the city, which are regularly churning out delicious varieties like Honeycrisp Apple Jam, Lemon Curd, and Chocolate Marshmallow. In addition to donuts, they carry a wide variety of locally roasted coffee.
The Holy Donut – Portland, Maine
The donuts from The Holy Donut in Portland, Maine, are made with a secret ingredient: potatoes. The potato-enriched dough makes a much denser, more richly flavored cake donut that’s a perfect vessel for unusual flavors like coffee brandy and pomegranate. The chef also makes a variety that includes chocolate mixed right into the dough. Topped with plain glaze and sea salt, it’s the most popular variety in the store.
Then there’s the sweet potato donut. It’s made with real roasted sweet potato folded into the regular potato dough and sprinkled with ginger-infused sugar or glaze.
Holey Moley – Milwaukee
Billing itself as Milwaukee’s only craft donut shop, Holey Moley opened in 2014 and immediately wowed the city with their huge variety of innovative fried dough offerings. Every day, they have over a dozen different varieties, including vegan and gluten-free donuts. They offer both cake and yeast donuts, as well as seasonal fritters, which are probably their most popular choice.
They’re open every day and make all of the donuts in their kitchen from scratch.
New Palace Bakery – Hamtramck
Located in the Detroit suburb of Hamtramck, New Palace Bakery offers delicious Polish donuts made with New World ingredients. Based on the traditional Polish paczki, the donuts from New Palace are left to rise until pillowy and soft, then fried, rolled in sugar, and stuffed with an absolutely obscene amount of jelly, jam, or custard.
You can get authentic Polish flavors like rosehip jam. They also carry updated flavors like cherry-chocolate and Boston cream. In addition to paczki, they bake up tons of other Polish delicacies like poppyseed horns and plum danishes.
Sidecar Doughnuts – Santa Monica
Sidecar Doughnuts, which came to Santa Monica in 2012, is a gourmet donut shop run by two creative minds who never stop innovating new flavors. Their offerings are fried in small batches every hour, which means that you’ll never get a sad, cold donut.
Their flavors are fun and more complex than usual. If you go, make sure to check out Chocolate Hazelnut Silk Pie, made with a dark chocolate cake donut coated in hazelnut praline glaze and topped with a dollop of marshmallow meringue.
Sidecar also offers savory donut sandwiches. One such sandwich is made with a Hawaiian malasada-style donut cut in half and filled with a poached egg, sliced ham, and basil hollandaise sauce.