For three kids and two moms, taste testing the city’s most family-friendly doughnut stores included sticky fingers, chocolate noses and likely a high dentist bill. No matter, doughnuts are a delicious treat meant to be enjoyed at random.
Speaking of youngsters, our taste testers had a lot to say about the doughnuts they tried. Make of it what you will, doughnuts are not going away any time soon.
1560 N. Damen Ave., Chicago
Stan’s is reminiscent of a ’50s diner. The neon sign and black and white tile interior evoke an older time when maple bacon wasn’t even a “thing.” At Stan’s it is; you can get a maple caramel bacon bar to go or eat in. The shop has stools for sitting and a couple tables for a longer stay. We tried an array of doughnuts–Stan’s even has a vegan option and a gluten-free option. Of the many choices available, we picked a chocolate peanut butter pocket, raspberry bismarck, chocolate glazed sprinkle, vegan sugar& glazed and glazed doughnut.
Overall, the kids thought Stan’s doughnuts were very sweet. The peanut butter pocket was extremely rich while the vegan doughnut was spectacular in its consistency and taste. One of our taste testers said the raspberry bismarck was “raspberry yum.” I think that’s a ringing endorsement.
The staff was lovely and the pitchers of free water to wash down our sweets were welcome.
Do Rite Donuts
50 W. Randolph St., Chicago
Do Rite is a small batch doughnut shop–never making more than 36 doughnuts at a time. It is known for many things, but most of all, its Valrhona chocolate cake doughnuts and daily Michigan apple fritters. Since they share a kitchen with Petterino’s, Do Rite also serves a variety of light chicken dishes.
We tried a variety of Do Rite’s offerings–the Valrhona, apple fritter, old fashioned and glazed. The doughnuts were less sweet than Stan’s but not as soft. The outdoor seating is great for families.
68 W. Hubbard St., Chicago
Firecakes is all about the doughnuts. That’s because there’s no space for anything else. The walk-in joint does not work if you want to relax, but in exchange you’ll get one of the most delicious doughnuts in town.
They’re known for their extra large vanilla glazed version, but I found the Meyer lemon filled doughnuts to have the best combination of sweet and sour. My mom friend counterpart thought the vanilla was the best of all. A place to sit would make Firecakes perfection for a family outing.
3329 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
Dinkel’s is the family-friendliest of all the doughnuts shops we tried. Farther north than some of the popular shops downtown, Dinkel’s has been around since 1922. A Dinkel’s doughnut is everything you expect from one–sweet, small enough not to feel overwhelmed, just enough to enjoy.
Dinkel’s just added a new café area to their bakery, so there are plenty of tables to sit and savor the flavor. Plus, the prices are cheaper than the rest of the shops we tried. The options at Dinkel’s are what you expect, but in a good way. We tried the chocolate fudge, maple walnut glazed, raspberry bismarck, cake doughnut and vanilla fudge.
As we found out, sometimes there’s nothing quite as good as a simple doughnut.