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Best donut in Manhattan?

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This is really two questions - what place makes the best donuts overall in Manhattan? And what single donut flavor is the tastiest?

I realize I might spark a cake v yeast debate here but having eaten at Doughnut Plant and being slightly underwhelmed (I ate both cake and yeast), and really loving the Balthazar chocolate donut, I'm curious to find what else is out there. Unfortunately I missed the churros at Doughnut Plant.

So if anyone has suggestions on really good churros, that would be appreciated too (not the folks in the subways though.)

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  1. What Donut Plant donuts did you try? I love the cake donuts there, and my favorites are the Tres Leches and Blackout. The yeast ones are fine, but, too chewy to me.

    Unfortunately, NYC is not a huge donut town and you might need to go out of Manhattan to find one you like. Maybe you can have good bagels in a town or good donuts but not both? BTW, Peter Pan in Greenpoint earns rave reviews.

    Personally, I think the absolute best donuts in town are those served in restaurants because they are served fresh and fried to order (beignets at the Bar Room at the modern, donut holes at Jane or Stanton Social, apple cider donuts at Hearth, the ones served at A Voce, etc.)

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/477293
    http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2008/1...

    IMO, the best churros are those that are fried fresh to order (Donut Plants are not). Are you seeking takeout or places where you order them as part of a meal?

    2 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Second the Blackout. The rest there less so.

      1. re: kathryn

        I had the most recommended donuts - the Tres leches, which I was really looking forward to, but which was just overly gloppy sugary sweet (it was a hot day.) I had the blackout, which I liked better and would go back for. And the Blackbery jam, which was not bad. Surprising results to me cos I prefer cake donuts (I hate Krispy Kreme. Sorry.) Had very good donuts at Craft which were piping hot, as well as at Taralucci e Vino, where they sit on the shelf, but I seem to keep missing the chocolate donuts there.

        I am very open to places where churros are part of a meal. I had really good churros in Philly at Distrito which came with the proper side of thick hot chocolate. But I also had really good churros in Chicago - there's a churro plant in Pilsen that makes them, and they have different flavored filings (choc, custard, and raspberry.) Those were good even if they weren't fresh, unlike the subway vendors' version.

        I think a visit to Bouchon, Donut Pub, and some of the restaurants mentioned here are in order. Besides, I have yet to try the macarons at Bouchon, so they are at the top of my list esp. since I missed going there on a recent Vegas trip.

      2. I dislike Donut Plant. I like my (cake) donuts crispy on the outside from the frier, and dense but soft on the inside. It's a simple concept that's impossible to find in this town.

        4 Replies
        1. re: chet steadman

          donut plant? meh. i have never been able to top the donut pub on 14th st...in manhattan, that is

          1. re: david sprague

            i've been to donut pub and peter pan, and neither has impressed me that much. but i think that's because i've never been lucky enough to try any really fresh donuts at either.

            any idea what the best times are to try and grab a warm donut at pub or peter pan?

            1. re: chet steadman

              I agree. After hearing rave reviews of doughnut pub, I was sadly disappointed with their doughnuts. My opinion may change if I were to have a freshly made one, but as it stands, I would take Krispy Kreme any day over doughnut pub

              1. re: chet steadman

                Peter Pan has decent flavors, but I find the donut itself to be blah. Once I tried plain versions of their raised and cake doughnuts. Neither really had much flavor except for a hint of baking powder. It didn't taste like they used quality ingredients and I couldn't eat more than a bite of each. They're okay when smothered by the fillings/toppings.

          2. I had some good churros last night at "Las Chicas Locas," a new Mexican joint that opened in Chelsea. There's a spicy kick to them. Otherwise, I adore the churros at Five Points.

            My fave donuts are the long, glazed cake sticks that are available at every breakfast/coffee cart in the mornings. Otherwise, I'm a sucker for Krispy Kreme.

            www.thelunchbelle.com

            2 Replies
            1. re: LeahBaila

              I was actually eating one of those donut cart marble sticks when I saw your post. I thought I was the only one.

              (edit: no, not at 10:30pm. i can't post from work)

              1. re: chet steadman

                Oooo...The marble sticks are great! I actually had one for dinner last night. My favorite come from this random Halal truck that parks itself on 6th Ave between 24th and 25th. I don't know why theirs are so much better than everyone elses, but I can't get over the freshness and extra glaze!

                www.thelunchbelle.com

            2. Defintiely Bouchon Bakery. They only have them on the weekends. Unbelievable and worth the trip if that isnt your 'hood.

              1. If you didn't love Doughnut Plant, give Donut Pub on 14th a try. Two very different styles -- Doughnut Plant is artisan doughnuts, while Donut Pub does more traditional doughnuts like you might find at a chain. I like Donut Pub's old-fashioned chocolate and glazed doughnuts.

                1. I think it depends what you're craving, and what your ideal for a good donut is.
                  Along with the others, I'll add the Apple Fritter from Baby Watsons cheesecake.
                  Their other donuts also looked unexpectedly interesting.

                  I still think Donut Pub is kissing cousins with Dunkin Donuts somehow, but the french, and the honey dip are both good.

                  I think the key to Doughnut Plant is to stick to the donut you like there, and and only when fresh.

                  1. Bomboloni at Caffe Falai. The chocolate filling is almost like ganache. Half the doughnut is filling. So rich but so good.

                    1. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/477293

                      1. Doughnut Plant (DP) forever! My personal fave - yeast/coconut (though I just checked out the website and can't wait to try Banana Pecan) and the Creme Brulee is tasty. Cake - Tres Leches is a fave of my significant other (I wouldn't turn it down) though I like the Blackout with a big glass of milk. I'll have to try Balthazar's chocolate. They listed Churros on the DP website. Is it seasonal or did they run out? I appreciate the use of quality ingredients in addition to tasting good. Recently tried Dunkin' Donuts and was suprised how much I didn't like them anymore. Krispy Kreme was fun for a bit but I'll always come back to Doughnut Plant. Will try Donut Pub for the heck of it. After all, sugar is my drug of choice.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: sjz

                          Donut Plant sometimes has churros in a tin/cup IIRC, kind of tucked away by the register. The turnover is not that high and they often taste old. :(

                          1. re: sjz

                            Banana Pecan! That must be what I just had! They were 2 for $1 at Zabar's closing special price last night. I didn't get to them until just now, over 24 hours later. Moist and flavorful, more so than my previous impression of Donut Plant's cake donuts. The nice part about it besides the price, is that I didn't have to go down town for them. (Besides Zabar's I think Oren's also carry donuts from the Donut Plant. )

                            The OTHER two I got were one yeast donuts covered with chocolate and..something else, and one big ball of dark brown raspberry jelly -filled yeast donut ball. Ate those last night. Also good. The jelly donut was fried dark brown, but not greasy at all. Quite soft inside.

                          2. The marble donut at Donkin Doughnuts, rocks.

                            1. I'm all about the Donut Plant. PB&J and Tres Leches are both DELICIOUS. Creme brulee is also excellent.

                              1. Almondine, IMO, is the finest Parisian-style bakery in NYC - croissants, pain de chocolate, baguettes and tortes, etc...

                                But their Raspberry jam donut is ridiculously good - I think only available weekends.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: sebastianxx

                                  They are only available on weekends and they are outstanding.

                                2. I love the Donut Plant Peanut Butter and Jelly donuts!!!
                                  Does anyone remember the Chock Full O Nuts coffee shops? They sold whole wheat donuts that were to die for!!!! I can still remember the crunchiness and the dusting of powdered sugar. When someone invents a time machine that is # 1 on my list!!

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Motosport

                                    I don't understand the Donut Plant obsession. I really want to like them. I love the idea of "artisinal" donuts, and get sucked in by the look and flavor claim, but then I'm always disappointed.

                                    I cannot, for the life of me, taste a difference between banana, blueberry, strawberry, etc. They all taste exactly the same to me - like pretty good plain donuts that happen to have the color of the ingredient, little flecks of the ingredient, but no discernable flavor of said ingredient. Am I missing something?

                                    1. re: billyeats

                                      The PB&J donut definitely has the taste of Peanut butter and jelly!!

                                      1. re: billyeats

                                        I tend to agree with you that several of their doughnut flavors taste the same. At least in their raised doughnuts, the only difference is the glaze (and filling in some). It's much easier to make different glazes than different doughs, since it just requires using a different flavored liquid. Unfortunately, most of their glazes are more sugar than flavor, so the difference is very subtle. I also find their raised doughnuts to be rather dense and heavy which detracts from whatever flavor might be in the glaze.

                                      2. re: Motosport

                                        i passed by one of those recently in the outer boroughs. midwood, maybe?

                                        1. re: Motosport

                                          "...Does anyone remember the Chock Full O Nuts coffee shops? They sold whole wheat donuts that were to die for!!!! I can still remember the crunchiness and the dusting of powdered sugar. When someone invents a time machine that is # 1 on my list!!..."

                                          several years back, my first visit to Chock Full O Nuts coffee shop was in Hoboken, NJ. All I remember was that they had the best ever Peanut Butter cookies! I'm quite sure things are not the same these days any more. Just wish I knew WHO baked their stuff back then....

                                        2. i think donut pub on 14th and 6th is the best donut in manhattan. It's simple traditional donuts, but made really well and fresh. I stop in and usually get either a glazed or bear claw with a cold glass of milk...really simple and really good.

                                          i live very close to donut plant and i really dislike the place, i think it lives off hype...ive been kind of lambasting them on the board for a while b/c i just don't like places that live off hype. one thing if its good on an absolute basis, but not as good as the hype in the case of donut plant i dont really think its good on an absolute basis...rather its "creative". although there are enough people to disagree with me that maybe its just my tastes (nothing wrong with liking the place since taste is totally intangible anyhow)

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: Lau

                                            I recently tried the blackout and feel that it succeeds on any basis. I'm generally not a fan of glazes, but the glaze on this one is light, more subtle, and it doesn't dominate. The inside is, again, light, moist, not overly sweet. The true chocolate taste and the freshness is what I came away with. I'm generally a fan of your tried-and-true donut shops, such as Peter Pan and Donut Pub, and haven't liked everything I've tried at DP, but I give them ultimate credit on this one.
                                            P.

                                            1. re: Polecat

                                              hmmm ok, well if ure saying its that good, ill go walk over and give them another chance (ive given them so many haha)....would be nice if it was good since it is a 5 min walk from me

                                            2. re: Lau

                                              I think Donut Plant's creme brulee donuts is one of the best I've ever had...
                                              I loved Donut Pub, but it's gone downhill in recent years. It used to be a great example of a good old school donut (I grew up near and Amy Joy in Philadelphia). Then again maybe they're back up to snuff and I should give them another try.

                                              1. re: hungrycomposer

                                                well part of it depends when u get there meaning how close to when the donuts were made...they obviously aren't made ready to order and the longer they sit the less good they are

                                                ive been going there for quite a long time and i haven't noticed any noticeable fall off in quality

                                                1. re: Lau

                                                  That's good news, the donuts haven't changed, only my hours have!

                                                  When do you go?

                                                  1. re: hungrycomposer

                                                    well generally ive either gone early on the weekends or late on the weeknights...surprisingly they are open really late

                                                    ive actually been meaning to ask them when exactly they make their donuts, so i know when to go exactly as i just wing it right now, but when they've been fresher they are really good

                                                    if u find out exactly when they make their donuts before i do let me know b/c at home in CA, i used to go to this donut place by my house occasionally after going out b/c by the time the bars closed they had just started rolling out fresh donuts....if u ever get good donuts when they are hot with the glaze still melted they taste amazing

                                                    1. re: Lau

                                                      If you're in Southern CA do you enjoy Randy's donuts by LAX? I loved going there and almost missed many flights because of last minute donut runs.

                                                      1. re: hungrycomposer

                                                        well i grew up most of the time in newport beach, but i do like randy's donuts when i was real young i used to make my mom stop there whenever we drove by it on the 405...it is a solid donut, but its been a few years since ive been there

                                                        i usually get donuts in newport at a place called rose's donuts that makes excellent donuts

                                            3. I definitely think Donut Planet is number one in NYC, but have you been to Seattle? That place is the gourmet donut capital of the world - the vegan donuts (don't knock 'em till you try 'em) at Mighty O Donuts were a clear winner. Top Pot was a noble runner up.

                                              1. I second (third, fourth, fifth) props for Donut Plant. Their chocolate covered banana cake donut is heavenly. They've recently been carrying a fresh peach cake donut which is quite tasty as well.

                                                1. I've been going to donut plant 3 times a month for the last 4 months if not longer. A dozen every time for the office. I.ve had all of their flavors at this point.

                                                  Are there any alternatives on the east side?

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: WestIndianArchie

                                                    I hate to think what a dozen donuts runs you.

                                                    Thy do have and East Side flagship. Dean and Deluca's multiple locations carry them. There's bomboloni from Falai, which aren't as good. At that budget, you could get something from the case at Dessert Works, or some orders of donut holes to share.

                                                    -----
                                                    Doughnut Plant
                                                    379 Grand St, New York, NY 10002

                                                    Falai
                                                    68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                                                    Dessert Truck Works
                                                    6 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                                                    1. re: WestIndianArchie

                                                      totally different but the donuts at Saro Bistro in LES, which makes them as a dessert option, are awesome

                                                      they're basically homemade donut holes served with a homemade nectarine jam

                                                      -----
                                                      Saro
                                                      102 Norfolk St, New York, NY 10002

                                                    2. I consider myself something of a donut connoisseur, having sampled donuts world-wide for decades. I have never eaten a first-rate donut in Manhattan (though Falai's and Jacques Torres' bomboloni are pretty close. Nothing else in this borough is even third-rate.) I just discovered the Platonic ideal of donuts nearby however: Dough in Brooklyn. If donuts are your passion (and it's likely, since you're reading this), you owe it yourself to make the trek immediately.

                                                      -----
                                                      Falai
                                                      68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                                                      1. 7th Avenue Donuts in Park Slope, Brooklyn. They make great old school doughnuts with the generic icing and fillings. My faves being Boston cremes and coconut icing with apple filling. There used to be a great doughnut place on W23rd & 8th Ave s few years ago. But I'm guessing you're not interested in what used to be.