There is nothing quite like a donut for sheer, unadulterated self-indulgence. There's no good healthy, non-fried option. When you decide to eat a donut, it's a full fat, high carb, calorific, sweet treat commitment.
So, it better be worth it. Right?
We asked our Huffington Post B.C. food panel to take one—or many—donuts for the team, and let us know which of Vancouver's deep-fried doughy morsels are worth a lifetime on our hips.
Our contributors are all Vancouver-based writers and serious foodies. Between them they have judged a number of local food, wine and restaurant awards.
Check out their picks—and throw away the scales. Critics' reviews are below slideshow.
Now I’m not big on all these new fancy-pants three-buck donuts making the scene these days but I’ve got to say, Cartems Donuterie did it for me with their Canadian Whiskey Bacon creation. I mean if you want to see value for your money, I’d say whiskey, bacon fat and maple extract is a good place to start, although equally a good place for your heart to stop working. Nevertheless, it’s well worth the risk with these fresh daily handmade donuts built from local and mostly organic ingredients in this small business created by owner and donut connoisseur Jordan Cash. And there are plenty of other intriguing flavours to try.
When it comes to donuts I like to kick it old school meaning I can get what I crave 24 hours a day in a place lit like an autopsy room. Which is why I love Duffin’s so much. Are the donuts that great? Not really but they're okay. Is the atmosphere inviting? Well, if you like a bunch of strange old men sitting around in hard plastic booths at one in the morning talking about how they bought some hot TV’s off the back of a truck from a guy in a sweat-stained track suit who happens to be at the next table, well then, yep, this is the place. Not to mention that along with donuts this joint also serves up Mexican torta sandwiches, Chinese food, fried chicken, Vietnamese noodle soup, pupusas, 24 flavours of soft serve ice cream and more. It’s a veritable edible global village. As for a donut choice, I find the Long John, the Boston Cream or one of the buttermilk custard varieties pairs well with the weak coffee or bubble tea.
Lee Man, food writer and founding judge of the Chinese Restaurant Awards.
My absolute favorite donut is Lucky's Coconut Bismark. So many times, a coconut donut ends up tasting like a mouthful of suntan lotion, but Lucky's version has a fantastic tenderness and is full of luscious coconut cream—with a flavor that is heady with floral notes without being cloying or overpowering. A perfect balance of sophistication and decadence. Can you tell, I really love them?
Joie Alvaro Kent writes for Montecristo, NUVO and Vancouver magazines. @JoieWrites
122 - 1689 Johnston Street, Granville Island
Long before the days of Lucky’s and Cartems, before fancy-schmancy craft donuts were a thing, there was Lee’s. As the mom-and-pop team behind one of Granville Island Public Market’s five original vendors, Betty-Ann and Alan Lee have been cranking out hand-cut rings of doughy goodness for 33 years. And their incomparable honey-dip has stood the test of time as their best seller. Hot out of the fryer between 9 and 11:00 a.m. daily, they’re not too sweet, with the perfect crackle of glaze that yields to a pillowy light interior—delicious in their simplicity, the ne plus ultra of donuts.
The late-summer ritual of inhaling warm mini donuts at the PNE is firmly etched in many a Vancouverite’s food consciousness. But what happens when a craving for these bite-sized babies strikes you on a crisp autumn day? Take a leisurely drive to Steveston and head to Outpost Mini Donut Co. where Lisa Dye and Leslie Case serve these tiny morsels year-round. The slate of regular flavours, including well-loved cinnamon sugar, is bumped up by seasonal offerings such as 'smores and buttermilk gingerbread. My hands-down favourite: Canadian maple studded with bits of bacon. Fresh from the fryer, it's an irresistible combination of savoury and sweet—well worth the trip.
Kasey Wilson is an award-winning food and travel writer, co-host of AM650s Best of Food & Wine and editor of Best Places Vancouver.
122 - 1689 Johnston Street, Granville Island
No croissant-donut hybrids for me. I’m a firm believer in the old-fashioned. Unfortunately, classic donuts usually mean something mass-produced, often frozen and shipped across the country. That’s where Lee’s Donuts, in business since 1979, remains steadfast and strong as they weather the post-modern storm. Handmade daily, Lee’s old standbys like their double chocolate-cake style, yeast-raised honey dips and jelly-filled specimens are a revelation in flavour and texture. The only other spot I’ve found that is as good as Lee’s will have you traveling all the way to Seattle for Top Pot Doughnuts, hand-forged as they say and seriously delicious.
My favourite is Lucky's traditional French cruller it —is so light, airy, fluffy, tender, eggy and moist. It is almost like a beignet and not very sweet at all. It is one of their simplest creations, but I liked it the best.
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