Ah, the doughnut: manna to children, beat officers and Monday morning office meetings around the globe. As the cupcake craze cries its last buttercream breaths, the fried orb takes its rightful place on the throne of guilty pleasures. You can’t go wrong at these Chicago cottages of doughnut heaven.
68 W. Hubbard St.
Chicago, IL 60654
Some people are overachievers in ways that benefit everyone. Take Executive Chef/Proprietor Jonathan Fox, for example, who turns out perfect thin-crust pizzas and oxtail ravioli at La Madia and now has turned his culinary laser vision to doughnuts. The doughnuts at Firecakes, priced at $2-$3 each, are based on an heirloom recipe that a relative created in the early 1900s and modernized with interesting textures and surprising flavors. The made-from-scratch, small-batch (yeast and cake) doughnuts include honey glazed, buttermilk old fashioned, triple Valrhona chocolate, lemon verbena meringue, chocolate hazelnut long john, butterscotch praline and a classic jelly-filled, among others. Firecakes opens at 7:30 a.m (8:30 a.m. Sunday) until the doughnuts are sold out.
Do-Rite Donuts & Coffee
50 W. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601
Do-Rite doughnuts are made in small batches, never more than 36 at a time, so to say the odds are you’re getting a fresh one (or three), is an understatement. Expect seasonally inspired flavors like Meyer lemon in the winter and fraise des bois in the spring and top-notch ingredients in all doughnuts from Valrhona chocolate to freshly ground Sri Lankan Ceylon cinnamon. Choose among a dozen varieties a day including gluten-free and vegan options and daily specialties like caramel creme brulee and s’mores. Do-Rite will run doughnuts, priced between $1.95-$2.95, to your car and delivery is available to nearby locations.
3329 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657
In its 91st year, Dinkel’s is nothing new on Lincoln Avenue. Third and fourth generations of the Dinkel family are turning out traditional German baked goods and tons of doughnuts, yeast and cake versions, fried daily in-house. If you prefer yeast-raised, snag chocolate bismarcks filled with custard, apple fritters, cinnamon twists and glazed long johns, among others. Heartier cake doughnuts include old fashioned sour creme, cinnamon sugar, white fudge with toasted coconut and maple with bacon (Saturdays only). Prices range from $1.09 to $2.09 and the Wednesday special, going on for years, is four doughnuts for $3.99.
The Doughnut Vault
401 1/2 N. Franklin St.
Chicago, IL 60654
Tiny and tucked away by The Merchandise Mart, The Doughnut Vault serves pillowy and sizable doughnuts Tuesday through Friday starting at 8 a.m. and Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. You never know what’s in store since the vault keepers rely on incorporating seasonal ingredients: it could be lemon poppy seed, chocolate almond glazed or colorful birthday cake doughnuts in addition to the usual suspects. They cost $3 each but size and taste warrant the purchase price.
Related: New York’s Best Bagels… In Chicago
Glazed and Infused
813 W. Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
Certainly the most cleverly named shop in town specializing in sugar rings, Glazed and Infused seems to take it over the top in the most delicious way. Your classic jelly filled? The shop will feature a bismark filled with an orange Creamsicle flavor one day and peach ice tea renditions the next. It’s hard to resist the strawberry shortcake doughnut filled with vanilla cream and spilling with fresh strawberry and lavender compote, dusted with powdered sugar. Yes, there’s the obligatory maple bacon but you’ll also find weirdly wonderful doughnuts like the Bar Snack (yeast raised ring with caramel glaze, pretzels, M&Ms, peanuts and potato chips) and classics dressed up better than before like the raised ring with Madagascar vanilla bean glaze. Other locations include Wicker Park, Streeterville and Lincoln Park.
Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.