The Best Donuts in NYC and Beyond

donuts fryer

Looking for the appropriate sweet to go with your iced coffee? Look no further than the classic donut. This is comfort food at its most primal. Disregard the current trend of insect-sized baked goods and say hello to this hearty, full-sized sweet. Whether you crave the airy, soft-textured yeast-leavened variety or the more substantially structured, chewier cake donut, few baked goods are more satisfying.

Take your pick from homespun favorites like glazed, chocolate frosted with a dusting of sprinkles or jelly, with its hidden burst of luscious fruit flavor. There are mouth-watering options for the modern appetite too, such as hibiscus flower with a shower of rosy glaze and an exotic dulce de leche variety.

Here is oM’s list of destination donut shops in Brooklyn, Queens, and for those willing to go the distance on the quest for the ethereal bite, a top contender in Philly.

Dough, 305 Franklin Ave., Brooklyn, 11205

Why: If you are partial to forward-thinking flavors, get to this Bed-Stuy shop. These yeast-raised donuts are ultra-fluffy, fat and freshly made by skilled bakers in small batches. They come in fantasy flavors like a pink-icing-haloed hibiscus, fresh-squeezed blood orange, Nutella cream and lemon meringue as well as standards like plain glazed and cinnamon sugar, delicious in their simplicity. They don’t accept debit cards and you can expect crowds who are willing to wait on line for this ring of heaven. Run, don’t walk, just remember that they close at 5 p.m.
How to get there: G train to Bedford-Nostrand Ave.  Exit at Layafette Ave., and head west towards Skillman St., about a 2- minute walk.

Peter Pan 727 Manhattan Ave., Greenpoint, Brooklyn, 11211

Why: This cute-as–a-button, old-fashioned shop in Greenpoint has lots of loyal fans thanks to the large variety, low-prices and charming staff. This is folk food at its finest. You will find all the traditional flavors, from light-as-a–cloud honey-dipped to an intense toasted coconut, as well as delicious, dense-textured cake-style varieties like tangy sour cream. There are a few seats, so order a cup of coffee and inhale the sweet smells that permeate the air.
How to get there: G train to Nassau Ave. Exit at Manhattan Ave, and walk North West, about a minute.

Mike’s Donuts, 6822 5 Ave., Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, 11209

Why: Since 1976, this family operation has been bringing the fresh donut experience to the folks of Bay Ridge. Don’t come here looking for newfangled flavors, because you will be disappointed.  This is the true Mom-and-Pop experience, with convivial Mike, his wife and sons serving pillowy sugar-dusted, rich Boston cream, and chubby chocolate sprinkled. The muffins are worth a try, as are the bialys.
How to get there: Take the R to Bay Ridge Ave., and exit on 4th Avenue. Walk one block to 5th Ave. and turn left.

donuts7th Avenue Donuts, 324 7th Ave., between 4th Ave and 8th St., Park Slope, Brooklyn

Why: This slightly worn-out looking diner and donut shop serves house-made donuts and decent coffee. There is nothing complex about these donuts. The flavors tend towards your basic jelly, glazed, and a fun marble-twist variety. Those in the know arrive in the a.m. to eat them while fresh. Prices are very low, cash only, and open 24 hours a day for those late nights when only a donut, even if it is slightly stale, will suffice.
How to get there: F train to Seventh Avenue.

Alpha Donuts, 45-16 Queens Blvd, Sunnyside, Queens, 11104

Why: Don’t expect fussy or fancy at this old school diner/luncheonette, where you will hear the rumble of the 7 Train as you eat. Come here for a nostalgic bite of donuts from the last century that cost only a buck, served in an atmosphere that screams old New York. Select a twisted cruller, sugar-glazed or a fine-crumbed plain cake donut, and you should be satisfied. The selection is often limited to half a dozen varieties, so come with a flexible attitude.
How to get there: 7 train to 46 St.

Federal Donuts, 1219 S. 2nd St., Philadelphia PA

Why: Recently opened Federal Donuts is garnering the attention of donut fanatics up and down the East Coast.  They serve donuts in fancy flavors that are so innovative its Philadelphia location may not hinder you from becoming addicted. One bite of their popular Nutella-Tehina-Pomegranate glazed may be all it takes. If you are a donut purist, there is nothing faddish about their hot sugar donuts, fresh out of the fryer, rolled in your choice of seasoned sugar. The coffee is custom blended, in case you have a soft spot for the classic coffee and donut pairing. If venturing to Philly for a donut seems a mite distant, note that they are located near the quirky Mummers Museum, as well as the awesome and authentic Italian Market, so you can make a day of it.  Donuts come out of the fryer starting at 7 a.m.
How to get there: Megabus, Bolt Bus, Amtrak or NJ Transit to 30th Street Station.  From the station, take the Market Frankford El east towards Frankford, getting off at 2nd & Market. Keep walking south on 2nd Street to the intersection with Manton, about 20 minutes.

Photos: Courtesy of Dough Donuts and Michael Persico

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Allison is a native New Yorker, who has lived in Rome, Tuscany, Melbourne, Toronto and Los Angeles. She frequently contributes travel pieces to Family Travel Forum, using her own children as guinea pigs as they travel the globe. She is fluent in Italian and Spanish and laughably adequate in French. Her background as an Early Childhood Educator gives her an added understanding of what it takes to travel with kids in tow. She firmly believes that the most important part of education takes place outside of the classroom, on the road, around the world. She never misses a chance to sample local delicacies, as her love for travel goes hand-in-hand with her love for food and wine. Follow Allison at @gourmetrav.