The donut is America’s unsung hero.
For decades these delicacies have been fueling this nation’s finest law enforcement officers, and without them your streets would be overrun with all kinds of riffraff. Countless early morning board meetings have been brightened by the magical combination of sugar and fried dough. And where would Homer Simpson be without his signature pink icing with sprinkles? Not season 587, I assure you!
Despite their iconic nature, frankly speaking, truly exceptional donuts are not easy to find in Dallas. I don’t think I am alone in my sentiments towards the Dallas donut scene. While this city is surely not lacking in the sheer number of independent donut shops, it is eerie how incredibly similar and mundane most neighborhood shops have become.
But for the valiant donuteer, all hope is not lost. I have scoured this land for three years searching for something extraordinary. Of course, it would be unrealistic for a person to try every donut shop in this city (and still live to tell about it). So I’ve hunted for suggestions from every corner I could think of (blogs, Chowhound, Yelp, Urban Spoon, magazines, newspapers, Twitter, Facebook, the cops at Waffle House) and ate my way through enough donut shops to personally ensure the future of Lipitor. Luckily, fantastic donuts do exist in this city.
Here I present to you, in no particular order, the five best places for donuts in and around Dallas.
1. Mustang Donuts (Pictured above) One of my first weeks in Dallas, I was cruising down Hillcrest Avenue, for some reason, on a Saturday morning. Suddenly I beheld a line stretching out the door of a humble donut shop and down the sidewalk. Needless to say, I hit the brakes, and partook of Mustang Donuts for the first time. For years Mustang has been shamelessly assisting the SMU crowd achieve its “freshman 15.” Some say a Mustang bear claw temporarily boosts your IQ at least 10 points, critical before taking that econ test you crammed all night for. Don’t leave without sampling their legendary apple fritter. Warm fried dough and crisp, sweet apple gently embrace under a silky sheet of translucent sugar glaze. It’s all together ethereal.
2. Shin’s Donuts: From the outside, Shin’s looks no different from the countless other donut shops haunting every corner of this city. Yet to say Shin’s is special is a terrible understatement. These donuts are so light and airy, you actually weigh less after eating them. The decadent maple bars and blueberry cake donuts are not to be missed, but it is the hot, fresh donut holes that propel this humble establishment from simple to sublime. Owner Paul Shin will tell you he has a secret ingredient that gives these donuts their heavenly texture, but he’d sooner throw himself into a vat of scalding donut oil than share it.
3. Jerry’s Donuts: When a place has been doing one thing for more than 41 years, and keeping a loyal following the entire time, you know they are doing things right. The epitome of a “hidden gem,” Jerry’s has been humbly treating the small city of Farmers Branch to traditional-yet-terrific donuts. While Jerry is no longer with us, the seasoned veterans running the shop haven’t let the standard of quality slip one whit. Don’t leave without sampling the superb cinnamon/sugar-coated cake donut. Jerry’s version manages to keep the inside light and moist while creating a tender crust on the outside, every nook sparkling with sugary sensuality.
4. Zeppole from Cane Rosso: I realize it’s a bit of a stretch to include the much-celebrated Cane Rosso in a donut list, but I’m sure anyone who’s had the pleasure of having their deep-fried Italian donuts will not fault me for its inclusion. The batter is laced with ricotta, giving them a unique texture which is soft yet gently crumbly. “Melt-in-your mouth” may be cliché, but it is undeniably applicable. Of course, a side of chocolate dipping sauce can never hurt either.
5. Hypnotic Donuts: Owner James St. Peter has done more to spark the revolutionary fire behind the Dallas donut movement than any other man in this city. Why, after just over a year of being in business, do flocks of devoted “hyppies” still drive hours every weekend for a taste of this madman’s fried creations? Why do droves pack themselves into a tiny unmarked pizza shop at 7 a.m. on a weekend? Because it’s a Hypnotic donut. Once you know, you go. If you haven’t had the Canadian Healthcare, you better clear up some space on your bucket list.