Seems like every food has its national day—or as with the case of burgers, its own month. But when we heard June 1 was National Doughnut Day, it released an unexpected flood of nostalgia for that sticky-sweet treat. So we asked Washingtonian staffers to share where they find their favorite doughnuts. Some are local, some are, sadly for our taste buds, not—but all are guaranteed delicious. Read on to discover their tales of deep-fried, caramel-drizzled, chocolate-frosted happiness.
Jessica Voelker, online dining editor
I’m not a big doughnut fan—too heavy—so when the fried-dough fans come calling, I usually lead them to NOLA-style beignets or zeppole, a little Italian confection. I really liked the beignets I tried during a recent brunch at Acadiana, and I’m definitely going back to Graffiato come fall in hopes of finding the pumpkin zeppole “nestled in caramel.” Awesome.
Shane Harris, senior writer
My favorite doughnut isn’t actually a doughnut, and to my knowledge, they don’t exist outside the Pacific Northwest. It’s a maple bar: a rectangular “doughnut” without a hole, topped with a maple glaze. And lest you think the similar-looking pastries in East Coast doughnut shops are the same, or that a Long John is a close approximation, I assure you, the Pac-NW versions are superior. The key is that the glaze must be made with only the best maple, preferably nothing artificial, and the cake can’t have any preservatives. I grew up eating them in Portland, and they’re the first thing I look forward to when I go back.
Chris Campbell, homepage editor
Since I’m a Midwesterner from Kentucky, the church my family attended was a block from a Krispy Kreme. We would leave Sunday Mass five minutes early to make sure we beat the rest of the congregation to the “hot and fresh” doughnuts. This desire to buy the freshest krullers and glazed doughnuts during my formative years—instead of sticking around for the pastor’s “message of the week”—may have been a contributing factor to my quitting religion altogether.
Sherri Dalphonse, senior editor
If you’re a native New Englander, as I am, there’s no contest—Dunkin’ Donuts is what you think of when you think of these decadent treats. Go ahead and joke: Yes, there seems to be a DD on every corner in New England. Yes, you occasionally see a policeman pull up for a fix. But whenever I go home for a visit, I can’t resist at least one chocolate glazed.
Bill O'Sullivan, managing editor
I wish I could say the best vegan doughnuts were in Washington—but I’ve never had any here. Instead they’re at BabyCakes in New York City, a fantastic all-vegan (and largely gluten-free) bakery on the Lower East Side. You have to like cake-style doughnuts, but other than that, they’re great (regular size and miniature, unusual flavors such as cappuccino chip) no matter what your diet or preference.
Marisa M. Kashino, staff writer
I love doughnuts. Love them. My favorite childhood doughnut memory comes from beautiful Lake Chelan in the eastern part of Washington state, where my family vacations every summer. Nearly every morning, we’d walk across the street from the lake to Judy-Jane Bakery, which turned out the most delicious buttermilk doughnuts in the history of doughnuts. A few years ago, Judy-Jane became—what else?—a Starbucks, and I haven’t yet emotionally recovered.
Though I should probably be boycotting Starbucks for stealing away Judy-Jane, I’m embarrassed to admit I sort of love the chain’s apple fritters. Sometimes, on Friday mornings, I allow myself to stop in at the Starbucks between the Farragut North Metro and The Washingtonian’s office for a well-balanced breakfast of fried, frosting-covered, cinnamony goodness. (I also order a coffee, but that’s just for show. It’s the fritter I’m really after.)
And lastly, if you’re into $8 doughnuts (and I am), Graffiato’s zeppoles—little puffs of deep-fried dough drizzled in caramel sauce—are a life-changing experience.
Carol Ross Joynt, editor at large
My favorite doughnut is, admittedly, a clear case of beauty being in the eye of the beholder. It’s a bacon-maple-glazed doughnut that’s sold on Saturday mornings at Home Farm Store in Middleburg, Virginia. It does not shy away from being a bacon doughnut—not in the least. In fact, bacon appears in whole strips, nested on top of the sweet maple glazing. One bite and my mouth is alive with the taste sensations of a hearty breakfast, essentially pancakes with bacon and maple syrup . . . in doughnut form.
I grew up with doughnuts. As a child in Ohio the doughnut man came to our door every Saturday morning, proffering a big tray of the fresh-made treats. While my parents slept late, my sister, brothers, and I would make our selections. Back then I was dedicated to the cake kind with chocolate icing. Glazed, too, of course, the American classic. I didn’t go fully crazy for glazed doughnuts until moving to the Virginia suburbs. During high school, my friends and I would drive to the old Krispy Kreme factory on Route 1 in Alexandria—often late, after a night of partying—to pick a dozen “hots.” Cruising the suburban landscape, windows open to the summer night, we would devour the doughnuts before returning home, our fingers sticky with sugar, our bodies jolted by the sugar high. It was so great. Especially since at 15 and 16 we certainly weren’t thinking about calories.
Later, as an adult, I worked as a producer at ABC News This Week. Part of the Sunday morning ritual was a pre-show meeting of the anchors and producers in the top floor conference room. Yes, the meeting was to review the serious global matters that would be discussed later on the broadcast, but in truth it was also a doughnut-fest. In particular I recall having to compete with Sam Donaldson to get to the chocolate-covered cake doughnuts first. We each had our favorites, but I believe George Will abstained.
If I see a doughnut sign over a store on the side of the road I’ll generally stop in. Fresh is what I’m looking for (though I’ve gotten by on Entenmann’s powdered-sugar doughnuts on more than one occasion). Which is why when I walked into the Home Farm Store a few years ago and saw the bacon-maple doughnuts, it was, well, love at first sight. I’ve been known to drive the hour to Middleburg solely to get one of those doughnuts. And trust me, one is enough.
Got a favorite doughnut or doughnut-shaped memory? Let us know in the comments!