DOUGHNUTS FOR DAYS
The Twin Cities has exploded with doughnut shops that offer the creative, the classic and, above all, the delicious
All photos courtesy of Glam Doll Donuts
By Lianna Matt
When customers first walked into Arwyn Birch and Teresa Fox’s first Glam Doll Donuts shop in 2013, they saw pink with a hard edge of vintage fierceness. The articles and awards that their out-of-the-box doughnut experience would garner weren’t hanging on any walls yet, a full team wasn’t working in the kitchen, and the second location in Northeast Minneapolis hadn’t been a twinkle in Birch or Fox's eye. It was just the two of them, a bakery with attitude and a crazy doughnut menu that hit you with flavors too good to be gimmicks.
“What we did was funnel our life’s passions into our concepts,” says Birch. “Our endless love of music, fashion, clothes, food, anything vintage—and poured it all into it, and it translated into the shop and people understood.”
Their bakery displays show us doughnuts like Peek-a-Boo, a tres leches and toasted coconut delight; Night Moves, a vegan virtue with blackberry Hennessy icing, fresh jam and brown sugar; and the filled half-moon Girl Next Door with its Havarti and muenster filling, curry icing, and spicy peanuts. The kitchen staff is continually coming up with new ideas, too, like the mac and cheese doughnut for that late night craving or this summer’s limited run of the mermaid doughnut “Kiss the Girl,” a star-shaped doughnut piled high with teal icing, sugary sand, pearls and candy seahorses. Plus, their classic doughnuts are pretty darn good, too.
Besides the doughnuts and the atmosphere, another thing people love about Glam Doll is its love for the Twin Cities. Birch and Fox’s work in the food, music and fashion industry could have sent them to the coasts—indeed, they did a stint in Los Angeles for a few years—but they wanted the next phase of their careers to be something that kept them in Minneapolis. They wanted to stay open until 1 a.m. on the weekends to create something on the late night scene that didn’t center around alcohol, although it must be said that their Northeast location offers the bubbly, wine and beer. (Birch says it makes the trivia nights they’ve started hosting more fun.)
The two loved the local music scene, and so they’ve cultivated a relationship with First Avenue where they deliver personalized star-shaped doughnuts for visiting bands that play off of the silver stars of the building. They’ve even worked with local musicians like Lizzo, Caroline Smith, P.O.S. and Jeremy Messersmith to make doughnuts inspired by the flavors they love most.
Although Glam Doll is always a call out for Twin Cities doughnuts, there are older doughnut shops that have become a staple in many communities and newer places keep popping up on the scene. While the food industry is infamously tumultuous, the mad love we have for our doughnuts—and the skill of our doughnut makers—means we’ll be living the doughnut dream for a long, long time.
“That’s the cool thing about the Minneapolis scene,” says Birch. “Everyone (in the doughnut industry) is kind of respectful of what everyone else is doing. Everyone has their focus, which gives everyone a reason to try them all. … Bogart’s does brioche; YoYo Donuts has their whole nut-free facility. Everyone is making their own thing.”
While we have dozens of doughnut shops around Minneapolis and St. Paul, here are a few places to satisfy your craving at, whether you want the newest spark of genius or an old fashioned doughnut for your coffee.
These bakeries are pulling out all of the stops to deliver gourmet and novel doughnuts.
Angel Food Bakery + Donut Bar: Angel Food has some good doughnuts. In fact, they're heavenly. (We'll try to keep the puns to a minimum now.) With a host of filled doughnuts that work with flavors from crème brulee, Mrs. Mint Pattycake, lemon meringue and more, plus doughnuts inspired by Samoas, pina coladas and orange blossom, you won’t know which to choose. If your doughnut heaven is more of the timeless variety, check out their almond buttercream, Mexican chocolate crullers or Miss Martin doughnuts for something classic with a twist. Either way, enjoy snacking on your delights in a setting fit for, well, an angel.
Cardigan Donuts: This skyway shop has made plenty of room for people to come and relax. They’ve got classic doughnuts and premium doughnuts (we’re always a sucker for a good jam-filled bismark), but what really sets them apart are their “inspired” doughnut recipes. Each creation sticks around for three days, and in the past they’ve included brilliantly rainbow-colored cake dough, tiramisu, rum roasted pineapple and a vanilla blossom doughnut complete with a sugar-crystalled flower structure. If you’re able to stick around for a while, sign up for their Doughnut Lab for the chance to taste test for them.
Mojo Monkey Donuts: They may not be as extravagant as Cardigan, but Mojo Monkey delivers with their flavors and execution. Try their chocolate ganache or red velvet doughnuts for something more decadent, go tropical with a mango glaze with organic coconut, or go pure childhood sugar with a doughnut topped with their root beer icing with Oreos and Reese’s Pieces.
Old Fashioned Shops
These mom-and-pop places bring you back to the good ol’ days not only with their pinwheel, cake and raised doughnuts, but with their small shop love.
Granny Donuts: People can’t help but smile at Granny Donuts. You can blame owners Xuan To and Que Bahn for that. For more than 30 years, they’ve been making classic doughnuts at low prices, and it was only a few years ago that they decided to give themselves a break from being open 24 hours. Talk about love and devotion.
Sarah Jane’s Bakery: This neighborhood bakery has been opened since 1979, and although the ownership has changed a little, the hominess has not. Get all of the classics here—old fashioned doughnuts are weekends only—and fulfill your quest of finding the perfect fritter.
SugaRush Bakery: When Keoni Nguyen took over SugaRush in 2013, he taught himself how to make doughnuts in three days to reopen as soon as possible. SugaRush has smoothies, coffee, espresso, and breakfast and brunch items in addition to its doughnuts and pastries, but if you go, you’ve got to try their oversized fritters or bear claws—they’re local favorites.
Food trucks, pop ups and unexpected delights make up this trio of doughnut spots.
Chef Shack Ranch: As Chef Shack’s only doughnut, these delectable Indian-spiced mini doughnuts are not always the go-to for first Twin Cities time visitors, but they should be. If you want, you can always try some of the other food truck and restaurant’s menu items, like their mouth-watering bison burger or just-what-you-needed HangOver Vegetable Hash. But that’s only if you really want to—keep your eye on the doughnut.
Sssdude-nutz: After experimenting with a food truck this past summer, co-owners Ashley and Bradley Taylor have decided to close up their brick-and-mortar Dinkytown shop and take their square-shaped doughnuts on the road for good. We don’t mind as long as they keep longstanding favorites like The Gay 90s (buttercream frosted goodness with Fruity Pebbles) and the s’mores inspired Sandlot on the menu.
Rebel Donut Bar: So Rebel Donut Bar doesn’t actually fit in this category anymore—they’re getting a bona fide Northeast doughnut shop as soon as this fall—but they definitely deserve a mention for their pop ups at breweries, coffee shops, farmers markets and more. Plus, they already have a signature: the mini doughnut flight. Perfect for the person who wants to try them all without eating them all, with the mini doughnut flight you get to pick from their unexpected flavors such as apricot habanero and chocolate cucumber parsley.
A Baker's Wife: Another old time classic in Minneapolis, A Baker's Wife has doughnuts that hit the spot (in sentiment and flavor) plus American Tea Cakes to die for.