// Written By Joy Cho //
I think I am officially obsessed with doughnuts. I cannot pass by a doughnut shop without feeling an insurmountable urge to step inside to just take a look. Every time, though, I sheepishly emerge from the shop with a fried piece of dough in hand. I’ve found that Chicago has numerous places where you can get your (daily) doughnut fix, which makes an avid fan like me pretty darn excited. Maybe too excited. I haven’t been to every single doughnut place in Chicago, but I think I’ve been to a good number of them. I thus present my personal rundown of doughnut places (feel free to disagree!):
- My number one far surpasses the rest: The Doughnut Vault. Yes, it really does live up to the hype. Get there early, especially for the specials, but don’t be dissuaded by the line. I promise, you will eventually step into the tiny, jewelry box-like storefront and find it hard to decide which doughnut (or box of doughnuts) you want. I had the chestnut glazed and the old fashioned buttermilk, both of which were excellent. The chestnut glaze was not overpowering, and the doughnut itself was big, yeasty, and fluffy–just what a good doughnut should be. The old fashioned was also impressive: soft and cakey, though it was a tad bit sweet for my taste. People tend to laud the old fashioned, and it was indeed enjoyable, but the chestnut glazed stands out in my mind. I can’t wait to go back to try their gingerbread stack or the daily specials.
- Glazed and Infused. Maybe this is because I had an intense craving for it at the time, but Glazed and Infused’s apple fritter was out of this world. I picked it up at their Wicker Park location around 9 p.m. quite on the whim (this is what doughnuts do to you), and promptly consumed it when I got back home. The fritter was loaded with chunks of apple, the dough’s sweetness level was spot on, and the doughnut was still quite soft. I’m not going to lie, I still dream of that apple fritter that I wolfed down at 11 p.m. that Saturday night…
- Do-Rite Donuts. I had wanted to try Do-Rite for a while, but I could never get there before they closed at 2 p.m. Last week, after church, my friend and I trekked to Randolph Street at 1:15 p.m. to finally give it a try. Their famous pistachio Meyer lemon donut was sold out, so I got the chocolate old fashioned. The exterior was crunchy and the inside soft and cakey, with the whole doughnut coated with a rich, chocolate glaze. I’m usually not a fan of richness, but the glaze worked really well with the old fashioned cake donut and provided a unique depth of flavor. The crunchiness also provided a nice textural contrast with the soft interior. The size was deceptive, though; it didn’t look too big, but when I ate it all, I felt like I had eaten the equivalent of three fried hunks of dough.
- Firecakes. This was one I hadn’t heard of before, but a waiter at a restaurant recommended it, and since it was only just down the street, of course I gave it a shot. Looking back, I think I didn’t pick the right doughnut to try. With Glazed and Infused’s fritter in mind, I got the apple fritter from Firecakes as well. It was good, but not great. I honestly cannot remember exactly how it tasted, which is probably an apt indication of its place on the deliciousness scale. I was left with the impression that it was just another average fritter, and also regretted not trying something else, like the Meyer lemon or coconut cream.
- Stan’s Donuts. When a friend and I visited, we learned that Stan’s had opened not even two weeks ago. Apparently, Stan’s is a Los Angeles original that just recently moved to Chicago—right across from Glazed and Infused (oh, the irony). The displays looked promising, and the staff was (almost overly) eager to help. After much deliberation, I chose the pistachio lemon old fashion donut. It was a pretty doughnut, I must say, but I wasn’t impressed with the taste. The doughnut itself had only a faint hint of lemon, and the pistachio glaze was an artificially bright green and cloyingly sweet. Now that I think about it, the glaze didn’t even taste like pistachios, and the pieces of pistachio on top of the doughnut were pretty sparse. However, the yeast-raised glazed donut that I sampled was better. I’m glad I gave Stan’s a try, but I don’t think I’ll be returning to it. I’d much rather walk across the street to Glazed and Infused to get that apple fritter.