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Aug 5, 2004 12:26 PM

The Best Donuts in the Planet are in East Boston...

  • h

Seeing the recent donut exchanges, I simply had to put out here again in Chowhound-land- the Betty Ann Food Shop in East Boston, since 1931 (565 Bennington St.,open MORNINGS ONLY, closed Mondays, 617-567-1479)- their jelly donuts make other jelly donuts seem like they are made of play-do and sawdust! Theirs are oh so yeasty, soft and fragrant with really good quality jam in it (homemade? or atleast from a very excellent bottle). On Fridays they make their most extraordinary lemon donuts, and also long versions as twists. The lemon filling is gentle and not too sweet, this is true about the jelly too not too sweet. Apparantly, on Saturdays they have baked beans- going back to that time and world where the bakeries had the good ovens around and people would get a lot of their ritualistic and weekly foods, including bread, from their bakery- also, very nice in the summers to not have to turn your own ovens on and get slow-cooked baked beans et al. Be warned that when looking for Betty Ann's that it is a very non-descript place, it is across from the school - it is just a storefront but the people who work there and the donuts they make are incomparable- soothingly wonderful- everything a donut should be!!!! Please Chowhoundies make the trip, it is really worth it! Enjoy!!!!...

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  1. I heartily second that recommendation! And many times you can get them still warm, which is even more delicious. They have pretty good scones (the dry, biscuity kind) and excellent fig and lemon squares. You can't bet the prices either.

    1. I could not agree more. I went to High School just up the street, and that place has contributed more pounds to my waist line than I would ever like to admit.

      I graduated H.S. in 1993 and in 92 they raised the prices of donuts from $0.20 to $0.25 I am sure they are still a deal.

      Worth the trip no matter where you come from!

      1. The original comment has been removed
        1. Someone mentioned Betty Ann's this week (sorry, can't remember who) so we gave it a try this weekend. I'm sold, these are great donuts. Very old fashioned, and taste homemade. They remind me of Mother Hubbard's in Southie, which was my favorite until they closed years ago. The donuts are smaller than most donut shops, and don't feel mass produced. The Jelly donuts were slightly warm in the center, and the texture was just wonderful. The sugar-dipped stick donut had a crisp exterior, with a soft, cinnamon-nutmeg cake interior. We'll definitely be back.

          Betty Ann Food Shop
          565 Bennington St, Boston, MA 02128

          4 Replies
          1. re: Chris VR

            I like a guilty pleasure filled or dipped as well as the next hound, but do they make any donut, donuts, ie, cake style?

            1. re: Harp00n

              From what I gather, they make 3 types of donuts- a plain cake donut, a sugar coated cake donut and a yeast-dough jelly donut. I don't think they have any dipped donuts. Give it a try but go early-- from what I've read, they run out pretty quickly. Hubby was the one who went and he said it was a TINY non descript bakery. He said the pies also looked really good and plans to pick one up next time he goes.

              1. re: Chris VR

                Thanks Chris VR.
                I'll be interested to see how they stack-up against my favorite, and certainly a lot of other Hounds', Kane's Doughnut House.


                Kane's Doughnut House
                120 Lincoln Ave, Saugus, MA 01906

                1. re: Harp00n

                  This is a different donut than Kane's, which for me these days has by surpassed by Demet's and Donuts with a Difference. I've loved Kane's for years but of the past 4 times we've been, 3 of the times we got donuts that felt stale, or maybe they were just overcooked. They were dry and crunchy (not crunchy in a good way). I can't really describe it- maybe it's the paper bag they put them in versus the box, or maybe it's the almost round jelly donut, but there's something about Betty Ann's that feels more homemade, more "real".

                  Demet's Donuts
                  199 Mystic Ave, Medford, MA 02155

                  Donuts With A Difference
                  35 Riverside Ave, Medford, MA 02155

          2. Made the trip to Betty Ann's yesterday (Sat) and what it trip it was-- like a journey back in time. The shop is like a movie set bake shop circa 1940, with old wood and glass display cases, cash registers with keys like old typewriters and numbers that poke up on tabs displayed in the glass viewer across the top, spools of thread mounted overhead for wrapping boxes,(although the donuts are packed in brown paper bags) depression era green painted woodwork, tongue and groove wooden ceiling, large, round center mounted chrome rimmed was magical and I think I enjoyed the setting more than the donuts which are just as others have described here.

            They only make 5 varieties, jelly, lemon cruller, sugar dusted raised, plain, and sugar dusted crullers.(granulated, not powdered) Yes, the jelly were warm and we had to smell that heavenly scent all the way to the Cape. It was torture! Indeed, they are old timey, old school confections, confirmed by the folks we shared them with who are in the senior years of life and said that they were just what they remembered bake shop donuts of their childhood to be (1940-50's) I on the other hand don't think I've ever had this type before and I feel like I need to develop an entirely different criteria for judging these as they are so unlike my favorites from places like Kane's and D wth a D.

            Be forewarned, they only have donuts on weekends, no other baked goods unless they are day old. There were a few scones (just as described above and not quite my cup of tea) and brownines (didn't try) The cases were literally empty (5-6 of them) and the donuts were served from the back, with a few on trays on counters behind the display cases.

            Now, my curiousity is piqued and I feel that I must go back to check out the other goodies but I'd love some advice from those of you who are familiar with the place. Just how expansive is the selection of baked goods during the week? Got a list of items they bake but I get the feeling not everything is available everyday, sort of whatever the baker feels like making today type of place. Again, the selection has a back in time feel to it and the prices to match. A dozen donuts is $4.80, squares-.40, pies $5, cinnamon buns .60 and cakes $3-6!!

            So, I will return on a weekday next time (and that's a challenge because they are only open 7:30-10:30 and I hope to be armed with advice from my fellow CHs. Oh yeah, leave your pennies at home. Handwritten signs around the place announce NO PENNIES!

            2 Replies
            1. re: tweetie

              Wow, what a great report tweetie!
              I know you do a fair amount of posting on the home cooking board but we need more Boston/New England posts please.


              1. re: tweetie

                Great report- I'd also be interested to hear reports on the other baked goods. Hubby said they also sell baked beans for lunch on Saturdays.