Nothing beats a doughnut. Just ask Homer Simpson. The deep-fried discs have risen from humble beginnings to become one of the most iconic foods on the planet. Almost every culture in the world has a fried dough dessert – from Greek loukoumades and Italian bomboloni to French beignet and Portuguese malasada. Here are a dozen next level restaurant doughnuts to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Doughnut Wheel at Charlie Palmer Steak, New York, New York
We ‘wheely’ love this bonanza of blazed bangles. This brunch-time special features plain, chocolate iced, and almond topped yeast doughnuts, plus bonus churros. As if that weren’t enough, there is a trio of dipping sauces: chocolate, caramel, and raspberry. Make a reservation at Charlie Palmer Steak.
Cereal Milk Filled Doughnut at Pacific Standard Coastal Kitchen, San Diego, California
Now you don’t need a spoon to eat your cereal. Pastry chef Kaitlyn Dashnaw packs the puffy round with cereal milk cream and then tops it off with marshmallow and a kaleidoscopic shower of Fruity Pebbles. It’s breakfast and dessert all at once. Make a reservation at Pacific Standard Kitchen.
Nutella Doughnuts at Loosie’s Kitchen, Williamsburg, New York
Just look at that picture. How could you say no to that doughnut? Served warm and bursting with Nutella, it’s a chocolatey, hazelnutty treat of epic proportions. The restaurant also serves them as Nutella-filled beignets, which come drizzled with more Nutella, dusted with powdered sugar, and finished off with whipped cream. Make a reservation at Loosie’s Kitchen.
Unicorn Doughnut at Fremont, Chicago, Illinois
This may be the most Instagrammable doughnut of all time. So it’s totally okay to spend five minutes trying to get the perfect pic of it before you take your first bite. The ‘likes’ are worth the wait. Make a reservation at Fremont.
Bomboloni at Tessa, New York, New York
Pastry chef Yarisis Jacobo fries up batches of the Italian favorite to order. Piped full of vanilla cream or simply glazed, they arrive with pear puree for dipping. Truly magnifico and delizioso. Make a reservation at Tessa.
Beignets at The Blvd, Beverly Hills, California
Executive pastry chef Chris Ford is our spirit animal because desserts never fail to delight. A perfect example is his beignets, which hide a hint of orange blossom extract. Don’t forget to dip — the sauce is a decadent mix of hazelnut chocolate and butterscotch made with Macallan 18-year-old scotch. Make a reservation at the Blvd.
Warm Apple Fritters at Halifax, Hoboken, New Jersey
The just-frizzled balls are rolled in cinnamon sugar and redolent with apples and warming spices. Even if you eat them in the middle of summertime, you’d swear it was autumn. Rosemary caramel, spicy chocolate, and apple cranberry sauces are on hand for your dipping pleasure. Make a reservation at Halifax.
Sugar Donuts at Departure, Denver, Colorado
Deep fried and delicious, they’re dusted with ginger and Thai chili sugar. But wait, there’s more — a side of cider caramel sauce. It’s Northeast meets the Far East. Make a reservation at Departure.
Loukoumades at Kapnos Kouzina, Bethesda, Maryland
These Grecian goodies are drizzled with honey for a smack of sweetness. The golden globes come with apple butter and caramel ice cream. They’re το καλύτερο (the best). Make a reservation at Kapnos Kouzina.
Malasada Trio at Stripsteak Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii
Perhaps the greatest contribution the Portuguese have made to the world is the malasada – fried doughnut balls are rolled in sugar. (Sorry, Vasco da Gama!). At Michael Mina’s Hawaiian debut, they are stuffed with Kona coffee, Tahitian vanilla, and guava fillings. Make a reservation at Stripsteak Waikiki.
Japanese Doughnuts at Kuro, Hollywood, Florida
The light-as-air sweet spheres from pastry chef Ross Evans are sure to dazzle. They come complemented by a trio of seasonal dips: anko (red beach paste) ganache, peanut butter, and matcha anglaise. Designed to be shared, we understand if you want to eat them all yourself. Make a reservation at Kuro.
Maple Bacon Doughnuts at Yardbird, Las Vegas, Nevada
Bacon makes everything better. Case in point — these fried-to-order, maple-glazed doughnuts spangled with crumbles of house-smoked bacon. Plus, there’s a side of butterscotch dipping sauce. Make a reservation at Yardbird.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.
Photo credits: Amy Arnold (Freemont); Maggie Marguerite Studios (Charlie Palmer Steak); Michael Pisarri (Kuro); Stripsteak Waikiki (Stripsteak Waikiki); Greg Powers (Kapnos Kouzina); Justin McChesney (Pacific Standar); Jason Greenspan (Tessa).