Chicago seems to be a city most famous for food such as hot dogs, deep dish pizza, and Italian beef sandwiches. The food scene far extends beyond this delicious and greasy grub. Hell, in 2017 Chicago had 26 restaurants awarded Michelin stars this year. However, I’m not here to talk about fine dining this time around. I’m here to bring to your attention the amazing doughnut scene that Chicago has to offer. Yes Chicagoans truly go nuts for doughnuts! While there is a gold mine of places to try in and around the city, after a year of trying several doughnut shops in the city I have determined my top five. What doughnut house will claim the fried dough throne? See below to find out!
#5: Glazed and Infused (Now Closed)
It’s got to be my favorite name out of the doughnut places that I have been to. With locations in The Loop, River North, West Loop, and Lincoln Park it shouldn’t be hard to stop into a Glazed and Infused shop to grab some fried dough goodness. However, they have so many options you may be leaving with multiple. One standout is the Maple Bacon Long John which is a hand-cut raised yeast long john with real Vermont maple glaze and maple sugar candied pepper bacon which gives it a nice smoky and salty taste to compliment the sweet glaze. The other doughnut I have tried at Glazed and Infused is the Red Velvet which was tasty, but doesn’t pack the flavor that I’ve gotten out of other red velvet donuts I’ve scarfed down. Other popular choices include the Boston Cream, Happy Birthday, PB & J, and the Michigan Apple Fritter. They also have seasonal donuts such as their Matcha Cream and Bananutella Bismark offered this Spring 2017.
#4: Stan’s Donuts
Stan’s Donuts is actually not a Chicago original. It started in 1963 in Los Angeles, California by Stan Berman. Rich Labriola, president of the Labriola Baking Company, partnered with Stan Berman to eventually bring the famous doughnut shop to the Midwest. Now you can find several Stan’s Donuts locations in Wicker Park, Streeterville, East Lakeview, South Loop, and River North. The crunchy texture of Stan’s Donuts is what helps it stand out as one of the best. The texture is not to be outdone by some amazing flavors they offer such as their selection of doughnut pockets including the Nutella Pocket, Peanut Butter Banana Pocket, and Biscoff Pocket. The Biscoff Pocket is one of my favorites, modeled to taste like the European Biscoff cookies one gets when on flights on certain airlines. The pocket has a nice caramel flavor and cream center that makes for a special treat. Other standouts for me include the Double Chocolate Old Fashioned, Captain Crunch Bismark, and Lemon Pistachio Old Fashioned. The Lemon Pistachio Old Fashioned components mesh well together to pack some serious flavor, making it my favorite pistachio doughnut that I’ve ever had.
#3: Firecakes Donuts
Firecakes Donuts all have interiors with bright colors which makes the environment quite homey and inviting. They have the best looking display case of any doughnut shops I’ve been in as all their doughnuts are on display, lined up on large pan sheets behind a large plate of glass for all customers to easily see every kind they can indulge in. You can find their shops in the Lincoln Park or River North neighborhoods. Some special doughnuts they make include the Orange Poppyseed and Butterscotch Praline. One of my favorites is the Coconut Cream, which as the name suggests has a nice coconut and creamy taste. Their Pistachio doughnut is finger licking good and is just behind the Lemon Pistachio at Stan’s Donuts in terms of taste and texture. There is one award winning doughnut here that you can’t miss though. I’m not a huge vanilla fan but their Vanilla Iced doughnut is insanely good. The doughnut is glazed, has a soft texture with the most amazing vanilla icing, and is topped with vanilla crunch pieces. This amazing doughnut itself helps propel Firecakes Donuts into my number three spot.
#2: Doughnut Vault
The Doughnut Vault is a close second. If I were rating on originality and innovative doughnuts they would hands down win. Everyday their shops in River North and West Loop serve up doughnuts of the day that they announce via their twitter page, and that can depend by location. Specialty doughnuts have included the Pink Lemonade Old Fashioned, Mocha Coconut Cake, Dulce De Leche Cake, Apricot Old Fashioned, Brownie Cake, Apple Cider Old Fashioned, Keylime Pie Cake, S’mores Cake, Salted Caramel Old Fashioned, and Mexican Hot Chocolate cake. Long list right? Well that just scratches the surface. One of my favorite specialty donuts is their Chesnut Old Fashioned which is nutty and puffy, yet flaky and crispy at the same time. Sometimes you can’t go wrong with a more plain type of doughnut and, in fact, Doughnut Vault’s Buttermilk Old Fashioned is one of their best. It has a delicious glaze accompanied by a crunchy exterior and soft doughy interior that makes it the best “plain” old fashioned in the Chicago.
#1: Do-Rite Donuts
Do-Rite Donuts sell the best donuts I’ve ever had in Chicago and in the US. The consistent combination of an amazing crunchy texture, innovative flavors, and fresh ingredients wins me over. With two locations in Chicago’s Loop and Streeterville neighborhoods you will have to venture to the city center for a taste of the doughnut ecstasy. The Streetville location is larger than the one in the Loop, but try to get in early regardless of store location, as they sell out of their best doughnuts by the afternoon on many days. Favorites of mine include the Vanilla Bean Glazed Cinnamon Crunch, Valrhona Chocolate Cake, Pistachio-Meyer Lemon, and Candied Maple Bacon which has the just the right bacon to icing to dough ratio. One of their best regular doughnuts is the Chocolate Old Fashioned which has a solid serving of rich chocolate and an amazing crunch to it. Do-Rite also does right by their limited edition donuts. My favorite that I’ve had is the Pumpkin Doughnut With Cream Cheese Frosting, which has a perfect pumpkin spice flavor that pairs well with the rich cream cheese frosting housed on top and inside.
One last thing to note about Do-Rite is it’s doughnut sandwich called The Sweet Heat. It is composed of fried chicken on a glazed doughnut with maple aioli. I’ve sadly never had this sandwich but man does it sound amazing. Maybe next time!
So there you have it! My top five doughnut shops are Glazed and Infused, Stan’s Donuts, Firecakes Donuts, The Doughnut Vault, and Do-Rite Donuts. With the golden age of donuts upon the city of Chicago you “dough nut” want to miss out. Make sure to check out these spots and indulge a bit. Your taste buds will thank you later.
-Michael Averbook, Foodie Extraordinaire