An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Jun 5, 2014
09:28 AMThe Connecticut Table
Best Homemade Doughnuts in Connecticut for National Donut Day
Having essentially gone “all-in” with our still-growing story in honor of National Burger Month in May—partly because Connecticut has scores of amazing burger places and partly because our audience kept taking big bites when the story was updated—we couldn’t pass up the chance to post something for National Doughnut Day, which is Friday, June 6.
We’re tempted to dig into the why behind this special day, known colloquially is National Donut Day, but we’re fighting off that temptation to get to the sweet heart of the matter: Connecticut’s terrific homemade doughnuts. This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive (and we’ll add to it as we keep doing with the burgers story), but it highlights a bunch of the best places in the state for powdery, sugary delights that are made better and taste better than the mass concoctions of any chain.
Dottie’s is a classic hometown diner with great food and great style, and a long tradition of offering what may be the very best homemade doughnuts (right) in Connecticut—at least we’ve honored Dottie’s as such many times over. We stopped in Wednesday morning to pick up a dozen, and were thrilled to see a selection that stretched beyond the sugary cinnamon staples to include chocolate-capped doughnuts and cream-filled ones in both chocolate and white powder varieties. And if you get a dozen, they are lovingly ensconced in a pretty Tiffany-blue box.
Vitals: 740 Main Street South, Middle Quarter Mall, Woodbury, CT 06798, (203) 263-2516, dottiesdiner.com
We also picked up a dozen at Whitney, and these delights also drew raves from our staff. The jelly doughnut shown here was perfection of the form; so beautiful it should be the subject of a painting. But our thoughts are less important than a comment on Whitney’s Facebook page says it better: “Best place ever... best coffee, best sandwiches, best staff, and awesome owner. Great, friendly atmosphere too! … We always go out of our way to go to Whitney Donut. It's timeless. Love it.”
Vitals: 2574 Whitney Ave, Hamden (203) 248-9095
Known as the “home of the square-cut doughnut,” Orangeside on Temple in New Haven breaks doughnut tradition with its unconventional sugary confection. Inside this breakfast shop with a modern American diner feel, the dreamed-up delights are displayed right as you walk in. Flavors range from simple and sweet powdered and glazed to sweet-tooth-satisfying apple caramel and Snickers bar. To guarantee freshness, original owner Anthony “Tony” Poleshek Jr. hand-cuts the doughnuts the night before they’re sold. These doughnuts look unique, but their shape is more than just a marketing gimmick—cutting squares eliminates scraps, so nearly every doughnut is a first cut, instead of a more dense, oiler re-rolled one. And it was love at first bite. The flavorful, light, airy dough, topped with a light coat of glaze makes for one delicious doughnut—forget calorie counting; you can’t just have one bite. The shop also plans to roll out an Orangeside food truck to serve square doughnuts and coffee. New owner Jakob Satir says people come for the doughnuts because “they’re larger than regular doughnuts (4-by-4 inches) but also because there’s an exotic, or rather eclectic array of flavors.”
Be prepared—on any morning, if you pull up to this Wallingford institution, there may be a line out the door! With more than 30 kinds of doughnuts made fresh on any given day—including glazed, cake and jelly-filled—patrons can sometimes get overwhelmed by the choices. The good news is that no matter what variety of these large, decadent treats you try, you can't really go wrong. Fans rave about the blueberry crumb while the raspberry jelly has been hailed by Saveur as one of America's 50 best, "a tsunami of sweetness enrobed in a fragile sugar glaze"—sweet praise, indeed.
Vitals: 83 N Turnpike Rd, Wallingford, (203) 269-4255, neilsdonuts.com
"We cook on-site and on demand, every day," says Faddy's owner Michael Rittlinger, who worked in direct mail services for 30 years before deciding to open his own place to deliver amazing doughnuts (and ice cream) instead. "Nearly 75 percent of our donuts are served warm, right out of the boiler—we try to time it so that everyone gets a warm one." Clearly, he's got the perfect package as fans flock to Faddy's, where they can find 10-12 different kinds of doughnuts on any given day, including jelly and raised sugar varieties. The most popular are his apple cider doughnuts, which are rolled in cinnamon and sugar—a delightful crunchiness on the outside while still staying moist on the inside. He also takes Faddy's on the road (look for Faddy's trucks in the next year), making his donuts available at farmer's markets and fairs across the state. You can enjoy them at Cabela's in East Hartford, too.
Someone on our staff tipped us to the merits of Doughnut Inn (right), which has two locations in Fairfield and one in Stratford. Folks on Facebook say the coffee is great, and the bagels, and, of course, the doughnuts: “My mom said your doughnuts are very good with her mouth full of doughnut. Thanks!”
Vitals: (203) 256-1908, doughnutinn.com
This classic village gathering place owned by Peter May, the man who revitalized the juice brand Snapple, is a great pit stop for breakfast, lunch, Bridgewater Chocolate and, yes, homemade baked goods that include yummy doughnuts—just one of its charms that joins folks of diverse demographic backgrounds. One of our editors fondly remembers stopping in for an afternoon coffee and scone to find the late Skitch Henderson, founder and artistic director of the New York Pops, enjoying a powdered doughnut, strategically wearing a jacket over his conducter’s black tie and tails.
Vitals: 27 Main St S, Bridgewater, (860) 354-2863, bridgewatervillagestore.com
Locals flock to this old-school doughnut joint off of New Haven Ave. in Derby. Regulars interact with the workers behind the counter and a large variety of doughnuts are offered daily. (We tried and liked the doughnuts to the left.)
Vitals: 658 New Haven Ave, Derby, (203-734-4185).
Every autumn this super diary store serves a delicious taste of the season in the form of apple cinnamon doughnuts. They’re great straight from the package but heat them in the oven for a few minutes for a truly divine doughnut experience.
Subsequent to posting this story, we were scolded on Facebook for not including Flanders or recognizing enough places in southeastern Connecticut. As we said at the top, our list of best doughnuts isn't meant to be exhaustive, but it is a living document that will grow as we discover more places. Hence this update to include Flanders. We called the bake shop to get the scoop, but it seems it was too late in the day to catch the owners or bakers—a good sign at a place not far from I-95 that impressively opens at 4 a.m., according to its Facebook page. There, one fan who attended the Coast Guard Academy wrote about reconnecting with a favorite place: "I have reminisced of Flander's honey wheat donuts since graduation from CGA 20 years ago and they did not disappoint, even with the highest of expectations." So consider discovering Flanders (for yourself and for us) kind of like an order.
Also check out Beach Donut Shop in Clinton, and as you prepare to dig into Connecticut’s best homemade doughnuts on National Doughnut Day—and beyond—also make sure to check out the places highlighted by our friends and content sharing partners at Ctbites.
Our post was inspired by theirs, which also includes such treasured places as the following:
Coffee An' Donuts, Westport
Lakeside Diner, Stamford
Darien Doughnut, Darien
Best Homemade Doughnuts in Connecticut for National Donut Day