So you’re craving a doughnut in Pittsburgh (where I happen to live and crave doughnuts)?
Option 1: You buy the popular gluten free “doughnut’ from one of several coffee shops, but it’s really just a muffin parading as a doughnut. Pleasant little treat that it may be, it in no way fulfills those deep doughnut desires. win-lose.
Option 2: You eat an adorable mini doughnut, a legitimate fried ring of dough. Your doughnut craving is satiated for the time being, BUT (and it’s a big BUT), you hate yourself because your dollars just supported the owner, a known homophobe who sees gay marriage as the dissolution of family values, and Barak Obama as the torch bearer for the demise. Win-LOSE!
(For the record: After learning about the owner, I stopped supporting his business)
Option 3: You start frying up more wholesome versions at home and coming up with some real novel doughnuts (if I do say so myself!)! However, these doughnut sessions are a bit labor and time intensive, so they require a fair bit of preparation. Win-win… lose.
Option 4: None of the Above.
You go to Chicago!
You go to Chicago, one of the cities fortunate enough to have been hit by the artisanal doughnut scene (Pittsburgh typically lags behind the zeitgeist, but thanks to the internet, at least our lag seems to be decreasing!). You prioritize eating good quality doughnuts and exploring the kind of coffee shops that most definitely serve latte art. Or at least that is what the Urban Farmer and I did as part of our Westward Wanderings.
The punniest, yummiest doughnuts:
Glazed and Infused
813 W Fulton Market Chicago, IL 60607
The West Loop’s Glazed & Infused not only serves as the flagship store, but it also acts as the production kitchen, transferring over 8,000 (!!!) freshly made doughnuts daily to locations throughout Chicago.
Pumpkin Spice & Cranberry Orange Toffee
Established in 2012 by acclaimed Chef and Restaurateur, Scott Harris, Glazed & Infused doughnut and coffee shops focus on artisan technique, local sourcing, and quality flavors, thus appealing to my deep donut cravings and my sense of ethics. WIN WIN! Their re-invention of Americana is reflected in the decor. I would have bought the Rosie the Donut Riveter poster off the wall if it had been possible!
…then a coffee break…
C. C. Ferns
2806 W Augusta Blvd, Chicago, IL 60622
I can’t tell you much of the story behind C.C. Ferns, other than it’s a part of a stylish restaurant group who causes my Chesterfield envy to spike, and they serve Coffee AND Booze and cigars. Unfortunately, it was a little early in the morning for us to be hitting the bottle, but in the meantime, how about this decor? Not a bad place to kick it with an espresso drink, eh?
Though I will say my espresso drink tasted burnt (over roasted?), the atmosphere was worth the trip.
C.C. Ferns also serves dougnuts from The Doughnut Vault (their sister company apparently), but we went straight to the source, the very space efficient micro source!
The Doughnut Vault
401 N Franklin St, Chicago, IL 60654
I would have loved to chase down/commandeer The Doughnut Vault Van (the cutest vintage food truck I have “seen” to date!), but our time was limited, so we ventured to this sliver of a storefront filled with the smell of fresh doughnuts. We made it just in time as mid-morning is already “late” in the world of doughnuts, and the options were thinning.
A Chestnut Glazed pillowy cloud and a caky Buttermilk Old Fashioned (made with a buttermilk powder for a bit of tang) hit the spot!
then more coffee…
Gaslight Coffee Roasters
2385 North Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
The Urban Farmer returned from the bathroom and said, “you have to go back there!” Not quite sure what I would discover, I followed his advice with a bit of caution. “Back there” turned out to be the true coffee nerdery- coffee roasting and precise note taking. It explained the standout beverages we consumed. This would probably be my regular haunt if I lived in the windy city.
It was an all too quick, sweet, caffeinated exploration of an incredible city, but had it been longer, we may have been too jittery and bouncing off the Bean. Hopefully, we’ll return again real soon to explore some other themes or maybe a cornet mission will be next?
Where are your favorite new wave doughnut spots?