Doughnuts aren't the kind of treat that most people eat every day, but when the craving hits, it must be satisfied. Not all doughnuts are created equal, however. While there's nothing wrong with a standard glazed (why do you think Krispy Kreme remains so popular?), Denver offers plenty of options when you want to step up your doughnut game.
From croissant-like layered takes and sourdough doughnuts to a chewy mochi variety, these six spots are your best bets in town for diving straight into the sweet doughnut hole of happiness.
95 Lincoln Street
This Illinois-born brand debuted in Denver in February
, just days after the birth of operators Sean and Kailyn Harshbarger's son. While influenced by Ansel's laminated doughnut approach, Parlor's take is larger, and the toppings are far less precious. Instead of a simple, precise ring, icing spills off the sides, and add-ons like sprinkles, strawberries and cookie crumbles are strewn on top. Flavors include blueberry, raspberry pistachio, French toast, churro and turtle cheesecake. While crispy and flaky on the outside, the inside of the doughnut is airy and buttery. A second grab-and-go location is slated to open by the end of summer at 5001 South Parker Road in Aurora.
3920 Tennyson Street
Head inside Hops & Pie to find Berkeley Donuts.
This bakery inside of Hops & Pie serves up cake and sourdough doughnuts every Wednesday through Sunday from 7:30 a.m. until they're sold out — and if you don't want to chance that, you can pre-order and schedule a pick-up time online. Favorites include the honey-glazed sourdough and sea salt caramel with black Hawaiian sea salt on a chocolate cake doughnut. Vegan and gluten-free varieties are also available.
Dochi's mochi doughnuts have made their Denver debut.
Dochi / Facebook
2449 Larimer Street
Dochi isn't the first to bring Japanese mochi donuts to Denver, but it's definitely the last. Dochi opened its doors on May 29, making it the sixth location of a company that started in Orlando in 2018. The doughnuts, which come in flavors like Oreo matcha and "Ube Bae," are made with rice flour, which results in a light, airy texture. They look a bit different than typical doughnuts, too — more flower-like, with sections that are easy to pull apart and share (though you can totally keep them all for yourself).
Habit Doughnut Dispensary
1553 Platte Street and 2200 California Street
Monthly specials and Habit classics fill the doughnut shelves.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to eating doughnuts: You can either go with light, airy doughnuts best straight from the fryer, or with richer, brioche-style doughnuts that eat more like a French pastry. Habit specializes in the latter, creating fanciful flavor combos atop sweet, toothsome rounds. The house special is the Blazed, a regular glazed doughnut torched on top to caramelize the sugar. Each day brings different specials, from the Real Mint Shady to the Blue Barry White. Kick up your selection with a boozy injection or a shmear of hemp butter. What could be better?
We're over the pandemic, but bring on the Pandemic Donuts.
2962 Welton Street
Maybe naming your doughnut business after a worldwide disease is a little irreverent, but Pandemic Donuts was born of the difficult times created by COVID-19 and the ensuing restaurant restrictions; as a result, it was honored with our Best Pandemic Doughnuts designation in the 2021 Best of Denver
issue. Gabrielle Henning and Michael Milton were laid off from their restaurant-industry jobs when the pandemic hit in March 2020, and turned to doughnuts cooked up in their cottage-industry kitchen to make ends meet. The doughnuts, so light and airy that you can eat several, were so good that the two couldn't keep up with demand. Now they have their own brick-and-mortar bakery inside Queen City Collective Coffee in Five Points, and the doughnuts are flying out the door. You can also find the sweet treats every Saturday throughout the summer at the City Park Farmers Market
Wake & Bake
Classic raised doughnuts at Wake & Bake.
1301 South Broadway
Of course, we can't talk circular pastries without our 2021 Best of Denver
pick for Best Doughnut. Veteran doughnut baker Juan Lopez bought a Winchell's franchise in 2019 with the understanding that he'd be converting it into an independent bakery the next year. In July 2020, he officially launched Wake & Bake with his own recipes, turning out a variety of classic, workingman's doughnuts morning, noon and night. You'll find a few nods to modern trends (some Oreo crumbles here, some bacon there), but old favorites like the buttermilk bars, raised maple doughnuts and cinnamon crumb cake doughnuts are so good, they taste like a revelation.