Café Du Monde

***** (5 stars)

This place serves basically two things, coffee and beignets, and you want both of them. The cafe au lait is excellent, and the famous beignets are crisp outside, fluffy inside, and buried in powdered sugar. There is always a long line here for both seating and take out, so allow time, or plan to come at an off time (if there is one).

Café Du Monde
French Market
800 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 525-4544
http://www.yelp.com/biz/caf%C3%A9-du-monde-new-orleans-12

Glazed & Infused

**** (4 stars)

This is among the top doughnut places in town, and has the advantage of more locations than some of the others. (Note that the entrance to the River North location is through the restaurant around the corner and past the hostess stand.) There is a limited selection of types, and they run out, so it’s best to arrive early and beat the lines.

Their old fashioned is a very good doughnut, although I would prefer it without the fronting, and with more of a crust, like they do it at Do-Rite’s.

White chocolate seems a bit boring, and Chocolate 4 is simply all about chocolate, not really my thing.

The apple fritter is a nice take on this old favorite; this version is all about cinnamon and a light cake interior, without the cloying apple glop that is so often used. I would have liked a crisper top crust, though.

The fried ice cream doughnut was interesting, with its toasted coconut topping, although I’m not sure where it gets its name.

But clearly the standout doughnut here is the Maple Bacon Long John. The creamy center gives it a smooth consistency, the maple flavor is rich, and the salty bite of the smokey peppered bacon really raises the complexity level. This is the doughnut you’ve been looking for.

While they have bagels and other non-sweet items, they don’t have any doughnuts that aren’t extremely sweet, so if your taste runs to a plain old fashioned, this isn’t the place. Otherwise it’s definitely a great choice for some morning sugar overload.

Glazed & Infused
30 E Hubbard St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 226-5556
http://www.yelp.com/biz/glazed-and-infused-chicago-6

Do-Rite Donuts

***** (5 stars)

This is what a donut shop in heaven must be like.

As a long-time fan of Stan’s Corner Donut Shop in Westwood Village California, I was delighted to learn that Stan’s had opened locations in Chicago. And indeed, their blueberry buttermilk donut is hard to beat.

But my favorite donut is an old fashioned buttermilk, and the one at Do-Rite has bested all others. The delicate crusty outside and moist center is the perfect combination. Do-Rite’s has a lot of other good choices, but this one is the new benchmark of excellence.

It’s one heavenly donut.

Do-Rite Donuts
50 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 488-2483
http://www.yelp.com/biz/do-rite-donuts-chicago

The Doughnut Vault

**** (4 stars)

I’m not sure this place is actually as big as the average vault!

But clearly they’re doing something right, when there’s a half hour line outside on a cold Sunday morning.

I’m a big fan of old fashioned buttermilk donuts, and although we tried a sampling of everything those were certainly my favorites. I felt they were comparable to Stan’s, my long time benchmark from Westwood Village California, and now at two spots in Chicago. However they don’t have the nice crust you find at Do-Rite’s, which I’d have to dub the winner in that category.

Still, a very fine donut.

The Doughnut Vault
401 1/2 N Franklin St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 285-2830
http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-doughnut-vault-chicago

Stan’s Doughnuts

***** (5 stars)

I can attest to the fact that Stan’s has been making the best donuts on the planet for forty years. My favorite is the glazed buttermilk bar, but anything with buttermilk or maple in the title is a winner. I don’t really understand why anyone would eat a donut from anywhere else. I’ve even ordered them shipped to Florida!

Stan’s Doughnuts
10948 Weyburn Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 208-8660
http://www.yelp.com/biz/stans-doughnuts-los-angeles