The most hallowed day in the entire doughnut-verse is almost here, and we can’t wait to slip into the frostiest of food comas this Friday. Although there are declared national days for almost any food item you can imagine, National Doughnut Day, happening every year on June 3, reigns supreme. From diabolical doughnut-dispensing juggernauts like Voodoo Doughnut to Houston staples like Shipley Do-Nuts and River Oaks Donut Shop, Houston is home to a handsome array of doughnut shops that can help you ring in the most sacred of confectionary days in a glaze of glory.
Since there are places aplenty in Houston where you can get your doughnut fix on this most sugary of days, we’ve put together a little list of some of our favorites.
No Houston doughnut list would be complete without mention of the reigning monarch of the city’s doughnut scene. Shipley Do-Nuts, with headquarters in Houston’s Northside, has 300 franchised stores in the Southern United States, and the popular chain is a source of pride for many Houstonians. Shipley sports a menu befitting its esteemed status, stacked with confectionary classics like the strawberry iced, the maple iced, and the cherry filled. If you’re not a fan of Shipley, it’s highly recommended that you keep that to yourself, because people here have some pretty strong opinions about the Houston-based doughnut behemoth.
There’s a whole lot of magic happening at the three Houston locations of Portland-based chain Voodoo Doughnut. Famed for their signature pink boxes and their sinister take on the tasty torus, Voodoo Doughnut is beloved by doughnut aficionados across the city for having some of the most creative specimens around. Staples on the menu include the Grape Ape with vanilla frosting, grape dust, and purple sprinkles; the Old Dirty Bastard with chocolate frosting, chocolate cream-filled cookies, and peanut butter drizzle; and their signature Voodoo Dolls, poppet-shaped confections filled with raspberry jelly, chocolate frosting, and a pretzel stake through the heart. The Voodoo crew will be celebrating National Doughnut Day this Friday by dishing out $1 Homers, a Simpsons patriarch-worthy concoction that appropriately sports strawberry icing and round sprinkles.
This charming Heights outpost is a great pick-me-up, especially on those days when you could use a little sweetness. Made with what they call “heartisan love,” the doughnut shop’s selection of toppings rotates on a daily basis, but you can always count on them to have traditional glazed, cake, and pie-filled treats. Call ahead to get your preorders in, because the shop will sell out.
Old Spanish Trail lies in the heart of Third Ward, also home to Glazed The Doughnut Cafe. The pastry shop, known for their shockingly good dunker creations like glazed doughnuts sprinkled with Cap’n Crunch cereal or their doughnut cheeseburger, in which a meat patty is sandwiched between two glazed doughnuts, is the place to be this Friday. Glazed recently underwent a remodel, and the 24-hour shop will feature a live DJ and some more sweet surprises this year on National Doughnut Day.
With deliciously conceived varieties like the maple bacon, the Houston-centric River Oaks with Sprinkles, and the cappuccino cream-filled doughnut holes, River Oaks Donut Shop is quaint but potent in flavor. And who doesn’t love to eat and support a good cause? If you swing by the River Oaks Donut Shop Friday, 10 percent of all proceeds will be donated to the Salvation Army, and all leftover doughnuts will be delivered to nearby shelters.
If you could imagine a line leading up to heaven, it would most likely start at Christy’s Donuts & Kolaches. The West Gray mainstay has doughnuts filled with lemon curd and a sweet cinnamon crumble, plus a bear claw that will have you reconsidering cheat day. The mom-and-pop shop won’t skimp on quality, and despite what (or how much) you order, expect to find a few extra doughnut holes in your bag. For Friday’s commemorative day, expect discounted doughnuts (and a long line!).
Krispy Kreme is more of a Northern institution, but it tastes so good that there had to be a few in the Bayou City. Though it may seem sacreligious to go against your city’s own — i.e., Shipley Do-Nuts — the doughnuts hot off the line here can’t be beat, plus, if you swing by Krispy Kreme Friday, you can order one doughnut for free or pay for a dozen doughnuts for $1 with the purchase of another dozen or doughnut holes.
NEW WAVE DOUGHNUTS
When you hear “seafood and oyster house,” doughnuts are probably the furthest thing from your mind, but just listen. Pier 6 Seafood & Oyster House is chiming in on the doughnut fervor this Friday with their special-edition hot chicken doughnut. The sweet and savory breakfast dish is a crispy fried chicken breast tossed with Crystal Hot Sauce honey and served with a glazed donut and a fried egg.
Acclaimed fast-casual Vietnamese restaurant Yelo may be known for its banh mi, but the Katy hot spot is also home to a menu stacked full with uber-delectable and picture-perfect youtiao — a.k.a. Chinese doughnuts. Flavors include the Dirty Rainbow with Nutella, M&M’s, cinnamon, and rainbow sprinkles; the UBE & Cheese Milk Foam with ube ice cream, salted cheese milk foam, rainbow sprinkles, and Nerds; and the KBP with Kaya butter (Malaysian coconut jam), pandan ice cream, rainbow sprinkles, shredded coconut, and curry powder. If you’re looking for interesting flavor combinations, Yelo is definitely your spot.
All-day Indian eatery Pondicheri is celebrated across the city for its creative Indian fusion dishes, and Bake Lab & Shop, the restaurant’s in-house bakery, is equally deserving of acclaim. The Gulab Jamun Doughnut here, inspired by the immensely popular gulab jamun dessert of India, is one of the most creative — and tasty — doughnuts you can find in Houston. The rose-flavored confection, which has notes of cardamom and saffron, is sprinkled with a light drizzle of syrup before being topped with rose petals and white poppy seeds. Since these doughnuts are not super sweet, they’re a perfect option for National Doughnut Day observers eager to take a taste on the lighter side.
You could search the entire doughnut-verse and not find a single hybrid as effective in hitting the spot as the mochi doughnut, a hybrid of American doughnuts and Japanese mochi that originated in Hawaii. In Houston, you can find the addictive treats at Mochinut, which has locations in Bellaire and Katy. Made with rice flour, mochi doughnuts sport a light and crispy coating with a soft and chewy inside, a textural element that makes these sweet concoctions entirely different from standard yeast or cake doughnuts. Flavors at Mochinut include ube, yuzu, strawberry, milk pebble, and matcha.