By Jacqueline Runice

Eating a donut is the best way to be bad. Well, ok – the second best. The circular targets of guilt have been around for centuries – you’ll even find an historic donut maker in Washington’s National Museum of American History. Like jazz, the Weber Grill and rodeos, the donut is quintessentially American and you can indulge in the pillowy pastries at these top-notch Chicago shops.

Do-Rite Donuts
 & Chicken 
233 E. Erie St.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 344-1374

The name says it all: this tiny shop does donuts so right, the throngs of health care employees from nearby Northwestern Memorial Hospital cannot stay away despite the orb’s bad nutritional rep. The original outpost in the Loop Theater District (50 W Randolph St.) has nary a seat but a perpetual line snaking out the door. What makes ’em so fantastic? Consider their pedigree: Chefs Francis Brennan and Jeff Mahin worked together at the tony Michelin star restaurant, L2O, when they bonded over a mutual love of donuts and today the shops turn out old fashioned pillows of sugar that will make you swoon. The Streeterville location also offers fluffy breakfast sandwiches and hormone-free fresh chicken marinated in pickle brine, fried golden then nestled on a brioche bun or a donut. The shops pour Chicago’s own Dark Matter coffee, so it’s all pretty perfect. A third location in Fulton Market opens late spring 2017.

Firecakes Donuts
68 W Hubbard St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 329-6500

The small batch traditional donut and coffee shop found inspiration from the family’s great grandfathers’ baking in northern Wisconsin in the early 1900’s. The family’s baking history is just one of the things setting Firecakes apart from the rest, according to owner Jonathan Fox. “We focus on ingredients first, we procure local when possible by utilizing some of the freshest products from local farms like  honey, fruits, ciders, dairy, etc.,” he says. “Our yeast raised donuts are unique in flavor and texture, they are amazingly light, while being rich in flavor.” Everything is house made, including the fresh squeezed juices, jellies, icings, glazes and gelato and you just have to try the signature Donut Gelato Sandwich the next time you need a sweet fix.

Stan’s Donuts
1560 N. Damen Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 360-7386

Stan’s Donuts & Coffee Chicago is the cake child of Chicago’s Rich Labriola and LA’s  Stan Berman who was fashioning fine donuts in the City of Angels since 1963. Labriola, known in these parts for his great bread baking, added his special stamp on donut making. The bread baker  naturally sees the dough, the base of the donut, as key and he spent several months perfecting the dough recipe for the glazed donut before the first store of six across the city opened. That regular vanilla glazed donut remains the most popular donut but many return for the Lemon Pistachio Old Fashioned and Biscoff Pockets, yeast-raised dough filled with Biscoff cookie butter before being fried – that’s God’s work right there. Wash it down with LaColombe coffee, espresso drinks, new blended frappé beverages and milkshakes that come with a little mini donut on top. Locations are in Lakeview, Streeterville, East Roosevelt, Michigan Ave,. Oakbrook and the original in Wicker Park.

Related:  Best Craft Coffee Spots In Chicago

Glazed And Infused
939 W. Armitage Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 226-5556

Chicago born and raised, Glazed and Infused not only wins for the most clever name, the shop excels by focusing on local sourcing, tried-and-true technique and quality flavors. They’re spelled “doughnuts” here and each are handmade daily from the Buttermilk Bar to the Matcha Cream. Some of the more distinctive doughnuts include the PB & J to take you back to childhood via fried dough; the Sweet Tooth covered in M & M’s; a Michigan Apple Fritter; and the Maple Bacon Long John. Find them in Lincoln Park, the Loop, Streeterville, River North and the West Loop.

Somethin’ Sweet Donuts
5112 W. Fullerton Ave.
Chicago, IL 60639
(773) 237-7588

You won’t find Mojito Mint, Pineapple Pork or Sriracha Bourbon donuts at Somethin’ Sweet Donuts, but you’ll be treated to freshly made straight ahead classic donuts that hit your sweet spot. Choose among the award-winning Red Velvet, various filled Bismarcks, apple fritters, Buttermilk Bars, cinnamon rolls, lemon, French cruller and popular yeast raised and cake versions (cherry and Devil’s Food are good bets) made via a hand-cranked donut maker. The shop also offers a couple of sandwiches, ice cream, sundaes, smoothies and lots of coffee drinks.

Related: Neighborhood Guide: Fulton Market