St. Louis Donut Odyssey, Part I—THE DAY OF DONUTS
I don't know about you, but I love a good donut. This love is not, however, a longstanding one; truth be told I was unexcited about donuts before I moved to St. Louis. Most likely this was due to the fact that I'd never had regular access to wonderful (and cheap) donuts before becoming a St. Louisan (because lord knows I've always loved deliciously sweet baked goods).
When you move to St. Louis you learn about all these gorgeous things you had no idea were here; like the City Museum, like rows and rows of beautiful old brick buildings, and yes: tons of great donut shops. For Bazazas and for all my fellow St. Louisans, as well as future visitors to our fair city, I am on a mission: to find the great donut shops of St. Louis City (and maybe even the County) and tell you about them.
In today's installment we'll be visiting three donut establishments: the mini donut stand at Soulard Market, John Donut, and Eddie's Southtown Donuts. Confession: I have a One True Donut Love, and that is John Donut. If I were being honest about how this mission/quest/thing started, it would really be called: "Are There Any Donut Shops in St. Louis That Are As Good As John Donut? I Doubt It." But I'm getting ahead of my story.
THE DAY OF DONUTS
One beautiful spring day in the River City, visiting Chicagoan friend Tessa and I headed out for adventure and donuts. Our first stop was Soulard Market (our indoor year-round farmer's market) which just so happens to have a mini-donut stand. Said mini-donut stand has heretofore NEVER been open any other time I've visited the market, but today, it was open for business!
730 Carroll St, St Louis, MO 63104
Delicious. These little donuts don't have the variety you'd get at a brick-and-mortar donut shoppe, but they are just the right size (and fresh-out-of-the-fryer yummy) to snack on as you wander around buying fresh flowers and handmade soap. I recommend the cinnamon-and-sugar variety, but we tried one of each kind (anything for you, dear readers) and it's a good solid YUM to each.
I overheard a lady behind me in line say that her kids had already consumed one bag and she was back for more. To be entirely fair: I think the doughnuts at the mini-donut stand in Pike Place Market in Seattle may be of higher donut quality than these... But I'd have to do a blind taste test to be sure, and how would you get from Pike Place to Soulard in time for one or the other to still be fresh?
1618 S Broadway, St Louis, MO 63104
Absolutely deserves reigning donut championship title. (That should be a thing.) Their pièce de résistance is the apple fritter; never have you tasted anything so simultaneously appletastic and fritterdelicious. Now, when I say pièce de résistance, don't get me wrong: it's not even my favorite donut on the menu. Suffice to say, I encourage you to visit yourself, and try to pick just one as a favorite!
OTHER REASONS JOHN DONUT IS AWESOME:
- There is a delightful cast of people who work behind the counter all alike in their brusque but kind treatment of customers. If the Soup Nazi honestly just wanted to sell you donuts but wasn't afraid to give you grief when you say something stupid, he would be any of the people who work at John Donut.
- The art. An extensive Superman collection meets surrealist St. Louis murals, all pulled together under the neon glow of their signature yellow and red. Somehow, it's perfect.
- John Donut opens at 11pm, and stays open all night making up fresh donuts. That's right: 3am donuts, fresh out of the fryer.
BACK TO THE ACTION.
Tessa and I thought we might have missed the boat on any more donut-ing for that day; it was about 1pm, and that's end-of-day for most donut business. So I quickly called up another place on the list, Eddie's Southtown Donuts. Me: "Hello! How long are you guys open today?" Eddie's: "Well…how long will it take you to get here?" Me: "10-15 minutes?" Eddie's: "Hmm… yeah, come on over, I've still got some donuts to sell you!" And so, we went.
When we reached our destination on South Kingshighway, we found our way through already closed and locked doors to meet the friendly proprietor. Tessa and I explained our Donut Mission, and Eddie assured us that the buck stopped there, when it comes to donuts! We then proceeded to have a lovely conversation about how he got started in the donut business, why he stuck with it, and what makes a good donut shop. I encourage you to stop by the shop and chew the flab with Eddie yourself sometime.
Delicious. Eddie's is the first donut shop I've tried in St. Louis that I would wholeheartedly endorse alongside John Donut. On a donut-to-donut comparison, JD's apple fritter is hard to beat, but I have to agree with Tessa that Eddie's cream-filled donut takes the cream-filled donut cake!
I am more than happy to see my long-beloved John Donut have company at the top of the list, because here's the thing: the more great donuts in St. Louis, the more we all win.
ON-LOCATION DONUT REPORTING by Hannah Burtness. Hannah is a graphic designer, nanny, lindy hopper, etc, who lives in South City St. Louis. She loves baking, history, the Oxford comma, the Midwest, and is holding onto the dream of one day owning a house with secret passages in it.
Next time, on Donuts of St. Louis: the Alton Brown Doughnut Tour of St. Louis! AKA: Donut Drive-In (the best donuts Mr. Good Eats has ever had, apparently, Saint Louis Hills Donut Shop, and then the classic (but in my experience, lacking) contender, Worlds Fair Donuts**. How will the new-comers shape up against our first stellar foray into St. Lou Donuttery? I don't even know! But I can't wait to find out.
**You may be thinking: Heavens! Why are there so many great donut shops in St. Louis?? My friends, it's a question we all ask ourselves. I have my theories, but this is something I'd like to throw out to all the good people of St. Louis, at home and abroad: why do we have so many delicious, delicious donut shops? Please email me your theories at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.