Whenever I read lists of top Donut Shops in the U.S. I find some that overlap with my favorites and others that I love are all too often omitted.
I thought it was time to put together my own Top 5 list.
1. Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop
727 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn (Greenpoint), New York
This donut shop from the 1950s is owned by Donna and Christos Siafakas. Each day they offer an array of fresh, handmade donuts ranging from classic cake and raised donuts with frosting and sprinkles, the best marble donut I’ve found, Honey Dip, Sour Cream, cream filled, crullers, eclairs, spice donuts, toasted coconut, as well as newer varieties like red velvet and the ice cream donut sandwich. The hand-painted glass menus above the donut cases, and the Formica w-shaped counter with stools that spin makes it all that one could hope for in a classic donut shop. People who’ve lived in Greenpoint all of their life sit on stools next to hipsters. It’s a donut shop dream come true.
2. Round Rock Donuts
106 W Liberty Ave Round Rock, Texas
The first time I had a donut here I thought there was melted cheese on my bag, but instead it was the distinctive orange-yellow glaze of their donuts. But don’t let that description scare you, these are delicious donuts. Their Texas-size donuts (think toliet-seat size) are epic and a bargain at $5.99. The chocolate frosted one can’t be beat. Soft and chewy donut with a delicious, slightly grainy frosting. The regular size ones are good too but not quite as amazing. About twenty-five minutes past Austin, it’s definitely worth the drive if you’re near. Their website says three Austin stores also sell their donuts. Open since 1926, it’s a piece of Texas history and worth landmark-status.
3. Britt’s Donuts
11 Boardwalk, Carolina Beach, North Carolina
I never thought of donuts and the beach going together but Britt’s Donuts is a tradition for so many visitors to Carolina Beach and it should become one for everyone. Glazed donuts are the only variety they make, but when you’ve hit on perfection there’s no need to experiment beyond that. In late March they open for the season with weekend hours through Memorial Day before shifting to a 7-days a week schedule through late September (I believe). In operation since 1939 this is how donuts were meant to be consumed, hot and fresh, with more being made before your eyes.
4. Sweetwater’s Donut Mill
2807 Capital Ave, Battle Creek, Michigan
2138 Sprinkle Rd, Kalamazoo, Michigan
3333 Stadium Dr, Kalamazoo, Michigan
With 24-hour drive-throughs you can get these delicious donuts whenever you want. An impressive rotating menu of flavors includes chocolate cream-filled long johns and variations on Oreo Cookies and Reese’s peanut butter cups. Fancies, yeast raised donuts, and cake, Sweetwater’s got them all. Their 1980s style donut shops pick up the mid-century donut tradition fantastically.
5. Doughnut Plant
Mark Isreal has been a leader in the newer gourmet donut trend with the innovative flavors he’s developed using fresh ingredients including fruits and nuts. But the recipe behind it all comes from his Grandfather who made donuts in Burlington and Greensboro, North Carolina. In New York Isreal first started delivering donuts by bike before opening the first Doughnut Plant shop on the Lower East Side in 2000 and a second location on the ground floor of the Chelsea Hotel in 2011. With seasonal and holiday flavors Isreal sets a wonderful example for what gourmet donuts can be. Coconut Creme and Tres Leches are two of my favorites along with the Chocolate Hazelnut-filled Doughseed.
While these are my top five donut shops, there are so many other donut purveyors out there making wonderful donuts. So try these but also seek out new shops. Who knows, the best donut shop may be one we haven’t even found yet.