In 1937, Vernon Rudolph opened the first Krispy Kreme in Old Salem, North Carolina. Nearly a decade later, in 1948, a man named William Rosenberg opened a doughnut shop in Massachusetts he dubbed Open Kettle (he would rename it Dunkin' Donuts two years later). Nearly 80 years later, the fried doughnut has become a universal delight, cooked up in all shapes and sizes and in a variety of flavors, fillings, and toppings.
On any given day, the shops that peddle coffee and doughnuts — that all-American, blue-collar breakfast — have lines so long you'd swear they were giving their goods away. And, well, they are. For fewer than $2 apiece, a good doughnut is worth its weight in gold, especially when layered under a veil of decadent toppings or filled with creamy goodness. We're suckers for them.
But here in South Florida, only a handful of places are making doughnuts worthy of being called "artisan." That includes shops like Mojo Donuts in Pembroke Pines, where over-the-top creations wow you with crazy flavor combinations; Jupiter Donut Factory in Palm Beach and Jupiter, where every morning, a line snakes out the door and shelves sell out by 10 a.m.; and Rhino Doughnuts & Coffee, a locally based chain making fresh-baked craft creations with shops in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, and Sunrise.
Although doughnuts aren't American, the donut is, and these days there's no denying the sharp line drawn between the fast-food variety and the artisan-crafted. To that end, here's our list of the ten best artisan doughnuts in South Florida:
10. Grampa's Bakery & Restaurant
17 SW First St., Dania Beach. Call 954-923-2163, or visit grampasbakery.com.
Family-owned and -operated since 1957, Grampa's Bakery and Restaurant in Dania Beach has been serving homemade American food for more than 50 years. That includes a near-endless dessert and pastry case, where you can find almost any type of cookie, cake, pie, bread — and, yes, doughnuts. All baking is done on the premises daily using old-fashioned equipment and from-scratch mix, just as it's been done since the place opened. To make its doughnuts light and flavorful, Grampa's uses a vegetable-shortening-based oil that gives each one that perfect light-and-fluffy feel.
9. YoNutz Gourmet Donuts & Soft Serve
121 NW 136th Ave., Sunrise. Call 954-846-1115, or visit yonutzfl.com.
A recent newcomer to the South Florida doughnut scene, YoNutz opened in 2014 in Sunrise, a family-run establishment specializing in two sweet treats. The "Yo" stands for the 14 flavors of frozen yogurt and soft-serve ice cream, the "Nutz" for the rows of fresh-baked gourmet doughnuts. The menu features everything from muffins and cinnamon buns made fresh daily to doughnuts stuffed with homemade jams, custards, and from-scratch icings. Like most spots, flavors rotate and specials pop up weekly. But most standard flavors include maple bacon, guava and cheese, sea salt caramel, white chocolate toasted coconut, strawberry cheesecake, peanut butter and jelly, Key lime pie, and cookies and cream. Drunken doughnuts are weekend specials: adult-only doughnuts featuring a touch of liquor, like the margarita speciality that made an appearance on Cinco de Mayo. Or go for a doughnut ice cream sandwich like the blackberry and tarragon yeast doughnut with vanilla custard. There's even doughnut shakes, soft serve with toppings blended along with any doughnut you desire.
8. Relish & More
401 Northwood Road, West Palm Beach. Call 561-629-5377, or visit relishandmore.com.
Relish, best-known for its gourmet burgers and shakes, is about to be known for its doughnuts too. Although it's been making its own fried dough since opening its doors in the Northwood Village business district in 2010, it hasn't been on the map — until now. Made-to-order, you'll get six doughnuts fried in a flavorful soy oil and delivered steaming hot on a metal rack, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. The real treat, however, is a new menu item. Owners Daniel and Desiree Tobin have just announced their new series of specialty flavored doughnuts, inspired by their own best-selling milk shakes. Look for out-of-this-world flavor combos including salted caramel, espresso, cookies n' cream, and chocolate truffle.
7. Cider Doughnuts
3822 Northlake Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens. Call 561-676-7076, or visit ciderdoughnuts.net.
This time of year is the perfect time to find chef John Carlino's authentic New England apple cider doughnuts. A Connecticut transplant, Carlino began making his favorite style of cake doughnut, reminiscent of those found across the tristate area come autumn, when he started working the local greenmarkets more than ten years ago. His recipe calls for real apple cider in the mix, and the results are best enjoyed fresh from the fryer at the stand he sets up annually come green-market time in the fall. Today, it remains the only place you can pick up an order piping-hot. After baking, each tiny cake is rolled in a special sugar-cinnamon-spice coating and served with a cup of Carlino's own caramel apple compote. Of course, if you can't wait for the Palm Beach Gardens or Wellington greenmarkets to open, Carlino offers an alternative: His Cider Doughnut company prepares boxes with 65 frozen doughnuts that can be ordered online and picked up at his North Palm Beach kitchen. However, the final baking — and finishing — are up to you.
6. Rhino Doughnuts & Coffee
126 NE Second Street, Boca Raton. Call 855-744-6674, or visit rhinodoughnuts.com.
Maple bacon. S'Mores. Nestle Crunch. Salted caramel. Cookies and cream. Guava cream. Key lime margarita. Warning: This is not your daddy's doughnut shop. Chunks of crisp caramelized applewood bacon crown a glazed round of dense yet fluffy dough. Hidden from the eye is a filling of handmade maple custard boiled down nightly from fresh vanilla beans and real maple syrup. Rainbow-colored M&M's and smooth chocolate are layered atop the ring-shaped candy-bar doughnut. It's offered in a variety of kid-approved flavors like Snickers, Milky Way, and Nestle Crunch. And it's all thanks to Rhino Doughnuts & Coffee. The South Florida-based artisan doughnut and coffee shop makes its gourmet creations fresh daily, all prepared at an off-premises commissary kitchen located in Sunrise. The central hub allows Rhino to bake upward of 3,000 doughnuts per day, which are delivered to the shop fresh each morning. Just be sure to get to one of the Rhino outposts before 3 p.m., when the best flavors have already been snatched up by hungry patrons.