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The big, sweet apple:
Doughnuts, NYC style
New York’s classic foods go heavy on the carbs. Pizza, deli bagels and black-and-white cookies are all popular choices. But there’s perhaps one carb that reigns supreme over them all. Yes: it’s the donut.
Or the doughnut. However you choose to spell it, this fried, sugar-coated, sticky, frosting-slathered confection is one of those New York musts. Luckily, they’re not hard to find: there are bakeries across the city devoted solely to this art form, with some specialising in just one, perfected flavour. Loosen your belts: these are the best donuts in New York.
Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop
A family-run joint hidden away in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop has been on the scene for over 60 years, where patrons go old school and chow down at the counter, cup of Joe in hand. Note that devotees swear by the Chocolate-Glazed Red Velvet Donut, which is cakey, moist, and beautifully vermillion when you bite in.
Dominique Ansel Bakery
These days, there are probably five people left in the world who don’t know what a Cronut® is (what other baked good is so popular that it has to be trademarked?). The man behind the invention is French pastry chef Dominique Ansel, who sells the croissant-donut hybrids from his bakery in quantities limited enough to have hungry hordes lined up for hours for their chance to taste. Take their cue and get there early.
Dough‘s treats are of the yeasty and airy variety, though they’re glazed with all manner of unusual flavours — try the hibiscus, passion fruit, or dulce de leche offerings. While Dough’s original outlet is located in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, they also have a Flatiron location and a kiosk at the new UrbanSpace Vanderbilt food hall.
One of the key bakeries that can be credited with kicking off New York’s donut obsession, the esteemed Doughnut Plant has been open for over 20 years. Originally located on the Lower East Side, and now spread across several city stores, the treats here have won legions of fans. While the crème brûlée flavour is enduringly popular, it’s the tres leches doughnut that’s almost impossibly delicious, filled as it is with a ribbon of sweetened condensed milk.
You can tell who the real New Yorkers are by their taste in apple cider donuts. An unfussy staple of farmers markets across the city, the treats are soft, sweet and taste like autumn. It’s little surprise, then, that the Carpe Donut food truck is a hit in the city. Follow its Twitter account to see where it will park up next, and grab a cup of hot chocolate on the side. Or, in the summer months, sample the truck’s FroDos — a donut ice cream sandwich.
Vegan donuts might not sound like a great idea (unless you are vegan, in which case they probably sound like a godsend), but trust Dun-Well Doughnuts to do them well. These are confections that appeal to all, and with flavours like Peanut Butter and Jelly, Chai Tea, and Ginger Snap, they’re far from dull. Trust us: you can’t even tell that they’re absent of eggs or dairy.
The Donut Pub
Of course, not all donut shops in New York need to be avant-garde to attract attention. Donut Pub provides a window into old New York; the unpretentious Chelsea shop has been a city staple since the 1960s. The light and airy Honey Dip Donut is a favourite, while the bakery is also renowned for its Boston Cremes and jam-filled varieties. It’s also open 24/7: use its retro neon signage as a beacon to guide you to hot donuts and coffee once the sun goes down.
It’s not every donut shop that’s located out of a car wash. In fact, we can’t think of any others that are. But that’s not the only reason that Underwest Donuts, found among the wilds of 12th Avenue, is special. Flavours here are positively gourmet, from halva and brown butter to jasmine green tea (which is no surprise, given that owner Scott Levine used to cook at Chanterelle and Del Posto).
Pies ‘n’ Thighs
As its name suggests, Pies ‘n’ Thighs is best known for its mouthwatering fried chicken as well as its selection of dessert pies, but locals know that this comfort food destination is also something of a donut expert. Flavours change each month, and can vary from a raised donut packed with strawberries and topped with powdered sugar to a pistachio glazed number that comes filled with lemon curd. After sampling its various delicacies, you’ll probably be in need of a good sit down – and some sit-ups.
Written by Claire Bullen