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.
5. Bake Shack
238 S. Federal Highway, Dania Beach. Call 754-217-4235, or visit bakeshackfl.com.
Open for just a few weeks now, the Bake Shack has become the latest addition to the South Florida handcrafted doughnut scene. The small shack located off Federal Highway in Dania Beach is just that: a shack that specializes in some amazing from-scratch baked goods and specialty breakfast and lunch items. Perhaps the most enticing are the rows of fried dough with colorful toppings and flavors that range from chocolate coconut or chocolate bacon, apple cinnamon, and blueberry crumble to blackberry cream, Oreo, and s'mores.
4. The Jupiter Donut Factory
141 Center St., Jupiter. Call 561-741-5290, or visit jupiterdonuts.com.
When owner Chris Stokes took over operations at the Jupiter Donut Factory three years ago it was familiar stomping grounds: he once worked with the store's original owners long before that. When the family decided to relocate to Oregon, Stokes said he would be happy to buy the shop — and that's just what he did. Every day, he'd arrive at the shop around 1 a.m. to begin making the 40 or so flavors served at his Jupiter shop, what equals about 200 dozen doughnuts on weekends. Local favorites include his own version of the maple bacon bar, a s'mores-inspired creation, and a red velvet "devil" that is more whoopie pie than doughnut. Stokes even began making his own fried and glazed croissant, which can be ordered plain or drizzled with chocolate or vanilla icing for an extra-sweet treat. Today, the place has become so popular he opened a second location in Royal Palm Beach, and a third is headed for Boynton Beach this year.
3. Dandee Donut Factory
1900 E. Atlantic Blvd., Pompano Beach. Call 954-785-1461, or visit dandeedonuts.com.
If you want to talk old-fashioned — and that goes for the shop and not just the type of doughnut — look no further than Dandee Donut Factory with locations in Pompano Beach and Hollywood. Founders Frank Pucine and Peter Spyredes started the doughnut and diner business back in the late 80's, but today their places (now owned and operated by different people) have the look and feel that would suggest they've been around much longer. Each shop offers more than 50 varieties in all — provided you get there early enough to sample them all. That includes the ever-popular Dandee doughnut: a giant, fluffy raised-yeast number slathered in a honey glaze and rolled in cake crumbles. Unique picks at the Pompano Beach store also include a handful of new creations by owner Mark Pontremoli, featuring candy-inspired creations like the Mounds (shredded coconut and chocolate frosting), Snickers (peanut butter, caramel, and chocolate flavors), and the Strawberry Shortcake (a strawberry glaze topped with a tuft of whipped cream-like frosting). And no worries about running out of goods and closing up shop: The Pompano Beach location is open 24 hours, while Hollywood is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
2. Nani's Dough
1622 S. Federal Highway, Boynton Beach. Call 561-877-2462, or visit nanisdough.com.
A newcomer has made its way into the craft-doughnut scene. And although this doughnut operation is still small-scale, it's already tasting like it's destined for big things. By day, Delray Beach resident Nani Edry shapes surfboards. But early every morning, before most of us are even awake, you can find him making doughnuts. Edry is the one-man show behind Nani's Dough, the Delray Beach-based doughnut delivery service he launched in September that now operates full-time out of Bond & Smolders Bakery in Boynton Beach. A self-taught cook — and now pastry chef — Edry begins with a special pastry dough he says took months to perfect, a perfect ratio of yeast, flour, water, and sugar for the South Florida heat and humidity. A combination of several types of flour, it's made in small batches, mixed and cut by hand. It's also one of the most flavorful, light doughnuts you'll have the pleasure of stuffing in your pinhole. The current roster of flavors includes white chocolate mocha, S'mores, cinnamon and sugar, plain glazed, avocado mousse with chocolate ganache, and an ever-changing rotation of exotic and seasonal flavors. There's also Edry's own creation, the "doughnnabon," thin layers of his pastry dough slathered with butter, cinnamon, and sugar for a deep-fried, hybrid doughnut-cinnamon bun combination. It's sinfully delicious and makes us wonder why we haven't seen one sooner.
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SHOW ME HOW
1. Mojo Donuts
7906 Pines Blvd., Hollywood. Call 954-983-6631, or visit Facebook.
Opened in Pembroke Pines several years ago by husband-and-wife team Shelly and chef Shawn Neifeld, the duo have been pumping out some of the best doughnuts in Broward County for years now. Extensive travelers, the Neifelds missed the doughnuts they'd devoured across the country, including in cities like Chicago and New York. It was a call to action: They decided what South Florida needed was a gourmet doughnut shop, so they opened one. Like many specialty shops, most of Mojo's baked goods — all 50-plus flavors that rotate daily — tend to sell out rather quickly, making it less doughnut shop and more coffeehouse come noon. Mojo is open daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (at least, they try to stay open that late but don't often make it past 2 p.m.). The hype around this place is thanks to the Neifelds' wild creations, like the 420-munchie doughnut, topped with everything from chocolate glaze to potato sticks and said to be made in honor of National Marijuana Day. Like any specialty shop, they have their own take on the standard gourmet riffs, including a decadent bacon and Nutella combo and a rich red velvet cake. The real wild side comes from picks like the Fruity Pebbles or sour-gummy-worm-topped yeast doughnut. There's even a Cuban-style, pastelito-like doughnut, the likes of which you'd see only in South Florida, filled with cream cheese and guava.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.