An ode to doughnuts, and 6 can’t-miss places to try them in the U.S.

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Top Pot Doughnuts, from Seattle, have gained national attention. credit: Kristin Finan

I have always been a doughnut person. Growing up in Austin, every Sunday my dad and I would pack into our Volvo station wagon and make the trek to a local doughnut shop, loading up on sprinkle-covered and cream-filled concoctions to be savored while reading the Sunday funnies.

I love doughnuts so much that when my husband proposed, he did so in a Krispy Kreme box. I said yes, but not before a quick taste test to make sure they were fresh. With this (dough) ring, I thee wed, indeed.

As a travel writer, I get to visit some of the best cities in the world, and when I take a trip, I never miss the chance to try out a new doughnut shop. I even have a running “doughnut bucket list” that I’m working my way through.

The shops on my list range from classic to historically significant to trendy, although there are still some doughnut-important cities I have yet to sample. (Portland, I’m looking at you.)

In honor of National Doughnut Day, here’s a sample of the doughnut shops across the country that have become favorites of mine. I’ve still got plenty more to see, and I’d love to know about your favorites as well. In the words of fellow doughnut aficionado Homer Simpson, “Mmm, donuts.”

Hugs & Donuts, Houston


The doughnuts at Hugs & Donuts in Houston come with a free hug. credit: Kristin Finan

A relative newcomer to the Houston doughnut scene (the store opened a little over a year ago in the bustling Heights neighborhood), Hugs & Donuts instantly impressed me with its wide variety of flavors (Fruity Pebble doughnut, anyone?) and attention to quality. Oh, and if you actually do need a hug, just ring the bell. Hugs are always free.

Stan’s Donuts & Fresh Coffee, Chicago

When the smell of powdered-sugar perfection wafts across the street as you exit the L in Chicago, there can only be one culprit: Stan’s Donuts & Fresh Coffee. If you’re vegan, Stan’s will hook you up with several fresh varieties daily. If you’re not vegan, you’ll choose from dozens of options that include a blueberry bismark, a Dreamsicle bar and a Biscoff pocket (my favorite).

Voodoo Doughnut, Portland, Eugene, Denver and Austin


A selection from Voodoo Doughnut’s Austin branch. credit: Kristin Finan

Voodoo Doughnut is a delightfully quirky, and dreadfully popular, doughnut spot hailing from Oregon but also now in Denver and Austin. Yes, you’re likely to find a line when you go. Yes, it’s worth it anyway, particularly if you’re able to snag a bacon maple bar or the Marshall Mathers, which comes smothered in vanilla frosting and mini M&Ms.

The Original Dunkin’ Donuts, Quincy, Ma.


The Original Dunkin’ Donuts is located in Quincy, Ma. credit: Kristin Finan

Dunkin’ Donuts is one of the most widespread and long-lasting doughnut chains in the United States, so it only seems right to pay tribute to the place where it all started. The Original Dunkin’ Donuts in Quincy, Ma., features fascinating old photos on the wall and an overall retro vibe. The doughnuts are the same as any other DD location, and that’s just fine with me.

Donut Plant, New York City

I’m still waiting for doughnuts to become the new cupcake, but in the meantime I’ll be perfectly content having my crème brûlée, tres leches and blackout cake in doughnut form at Donut Plant in New York City. Even the richest variety will only set you back about $2, which, for dessert in New York, is a steal.

Randy’s Donuts, Los Angeles

You know that giant concrete doughnut you frequently see featured in movies and TV shows set in Los Angeles (it even has a prominent spot role in Justin Timberlake’s new music video for “Can’t Stop the Feeling”)? That doughnut belongs to Randy’s Donuts, a Los Angeles staple conveniently located near LAX. Stick with the basics here. An old-fashioned ring and a cup of coffee are the perfect way to start the day.

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