There's never a bad season for doughnuts, as long as you stay away from uninspired pastry shops. Don't worry about rolling into the wrong shop, though; if you stick to this list of ten awesome places, you'll be able to sink your teeth into great doughnuts throughout the metro area. From sweet balls of frosted cake joy to fresh yeast-risen orbs filled with jelly to wacky flavors in doughnut form, there are plenty of options for everyone. Use this alphabetical list as a guide to find the best doughnuts in Denver, whether in traditional shops or unexpected eateries.
3350 Brighton Boulevard
1644 Platte Street
Acorn and Brider chef/co-owner Steven Redzikowski may have created the perfect doughnut, and enough people appear to agree, given that the limited selection served at these two Denver restaurants sells out every day. At Acorn, the fifteen or so doughnuts made daily disappear before lunch ends, and at Brider the situation proves the same, though there are a few more made — along with addictive apple fritters. The flavors change daily and have included roasted blackberry-ginger, grapefruit glazed, Chinese five-spice with sugar, and bourbon with mint. The first doughnut special made an appearance at Acorn on a Saturday as a treat for customers, but the demand proved high, and soon it was clear the eatery needed to offer them every day at lunch time. Get there early to nab one, but don't be surprised if they're already gone.
2. City Donuts
4918 East Colfax Avenue, 720-485-5706
746 Peoria Street, Aurora, 303-367-4603
If you aren't looking, you might drive right past City Donuts' small storefront on East Colfax. Don't let this happen; after all, the quaint shop won our Best of Denver award last year for its sweet pastries for a good reason. The selection (lacking the newfangled inventions of other shops) may look a little dull, but those looks are deceiving. The yeast-risen options prove light, fluffy and totally addictive, while the cake doughnuts have a nice lemony freshness that sings with not-too-sweet frosting and multi-colored sprinkles. You might also want to try the apple fritters, which have a deep flavor and density perfect for dipping in black coffee or taking on the road. Just make sure you get there early: The doughnuts are made at the Aurora location, and they sell out just about every day.
3. Glazed & Confuzed
2501 Dallas Street, Aurora (Stanley Marketplace)
When doughnuts tastes fresh and bouncy and boast a bevy of unique, inspired flavors, the shop making said treats surely stands out. At Josh Schwab's Glazed & Confuzed, such is the case, and it's not just the witty name that makes the offerings so good. You'll want to hang out in this spacious, three-year-old shop to dive into a plate of bacon-and-maple-laced Breakfast of Champz doughnuts while nestled in a booth, or feed your kids bites of bright-pink strawberry-glazed morsels while they play with toys. The flavor list changes frequently; recent highlights on the menu include the Mojito, a yeast doughnut with rum, lime and mint glaze that gets topped with a candied mint leaf; the Mexican hot chocolate, a stuffed doughnut oozing with cinnamon-tinged chocolate goodness; and the Confuzed Somoa, the shop's take on the classic Girl Scout cookie. If you come in and the case is empty, don't worry; Schwab and his team restock with fresh doughnuts all day long, something that can happen more than a dozen times on a busy Saturday. To top off the wonderfulness of this venue, Schwab uses organic, sustainable and local ingredients in almost all of the doughnuts, so that makes them good for you (right?).
4. Habit Doughnut Dispensary
1553 Platte Street
The doughnuts at this hipster shop downtown aren't for everyone. But if you crave brioche doughnuts in flavors like strawberry jam, peanut-butter drizzle and candied peanuts, or mint-buttercream filling with mint-chocolate ganache, well, then, give Habit a go. French-toast doughnuts come with a "syringe" of maple syrup, and a range of streusels make an appearance on all sorts of daily flavors. The brains behind the creations is chef Jason Graf, and the menu speaks to his love of the pastry as well as his fondness for whiskey. That's why you can opt for doughnuts infused or paired with booze, a novelty that's open to guests over 21. But don't worry, kids can find goodies, too, including the Habit, a raspberry and blueberry doughnut with white chocolate, or the simple malted-milk-glazed option. There are no tables at Habit, so take your doughnuts to go — even if it's right next door to Carbon Cafe & Bar for a cup of coffee.
5. Fractured Prune
9696 East Arapahoe Road, Greenwood Village
It's not often you get to eat piping-hot cake doughnuts straight from the fryer, but that's what this shop is all about. The first Fractured Prune opened in Ocean City, Maryland, in 1976. Since then it has spread to a handful of other states, but the two-year-old Denver shop is the only one in Colorado. Aside from the freshest doughnuts possible, another draw is the option to pick your own combinations of glazes and toppings. Create your own or order one of the house favorites: Black Forest or Rocky Shores, a honey-glazed doughnut laden with cinnamon sugar and chocolate chips, a mix that melts with the heat of the doughnut into a gooey sauce perfect for licking off fingers. Keep that in mind if you decide to munch on one in the car, but otherwise, a to-go box is a good idea, since the shop doesn't offer much in the way of seating.
Keep reading for five more doughnut stops...
6. LaMar's Donuts and Coffee
Ray Lamar opened his first LaMar’s Donuts in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1960. More than thirty years later he decided to franchise, and now you can find these sugary doughnuts in nine locations in Colorado, as well as in four other states. The concept is simple: lots of flavors, choices of cake and yeast-risen doughnuts, and a reputation for fresh and fun creations. Compared to other boutique shops in the city, the doughnuts at LaMar's are sweeter and more traditional, but sometimes that's all you want in a pastry. Choose from flavors such as caramel iced, maple iced with peanuts, old fashioned sour cream, pineapple cake and cherry-iced cruellers. The shop is a child's dream, with piles of doughnuts as far as they can see and so many to pick from you might have to buy them two. Luckily, LaMar's also specializes in coffee, perfect for washing down a Lamar's creation.
7. OMG Donuts
7355 Ralston Road, Arvada
"Yellow" is the first word that comes to mind when you walk into this small, three-year-old doughnut shop. But soon that crash of color gets overshadowed by the tasty treats the Arvada joint churns out seven days a week. At the counter you'll find Peter ("Just Peter," he offers, eschewing a last name), the baker, manager and one-man-band who owns OMG Donuts with his Texan wife. Make sure to try a pine-cone doughnut, a large, yeast-risen pastry that looks like its name and pulls apart in neat little chunks of cinnamon-sugar goodness. Jelly and cream are big stars here, too; OMG will fill your doughnuts with raspberry jam, lemon curd, Bavarian cream, peanut butter or vanilla custard on demand.
8. Osaka Ramen
2611 Walnut Street
You may be wondering how a ramen shop made the list of best places to get doughnuts. Chef/owner Jeff Osaka has skill with more than just noodles; he also makes a wonderfully unique and addictive pastry. Dubbed "My Wife's Doughnuts," this mochi- (a paste made from rice flour) and egg-based doughnut batter gets deep-fried by the spoonful, creating an orb of golden goodness complete with crisp tentacles curling up from the top. Before they are served, each doughnut gets a slather of salted butter and a dusting of sugar and kinako, a roasted-soybean powder. It's umami meets dessert in the most memorable and crave-worthy way.
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9. Walton Donuts
6603 Leetsdale Drive (and other locations)
If you like old-school doughnuts that bring to mind church meetings and classic cop shows, Walton Donuts has what you need, only better. The bright, sparse and spiffy shop opened in 2004 and has been churning out fresh, well-made doughnuts ever since. Go for a simple yeast-risen ring glazed with sugar or coated in shiny chocolate — or try the fist-sized cake doughnuts, which come in chocolate or vanilla, topped with chocolate frosting, mini M&Ms or rainbow sprinkles. The bakery also serves fritters and jelly-filled doughnuts; take a box to go or pull up a chair at one of the few tables. This mini-chain has four locations in Denver, Aurora, Lakewood and Parker.
10. Voodoo Doughnut
1520 East Colfax Avenue
There might be magic in the doughnuts coming out of this bustling shop on Colfax. Otherwise, why would there constantly be a line to get these goodies? Voodoo Doughnut started in Portland, Oregon, and came to Denver in 2013, following a successful 24/7 model that constantly churns out super-fresh pastries that have developed a cult following. No matter what texture you crave, there's something for everyone here. Get yours in cake, yeast-raised or French cruller. Pop-culture options include the Old Dirty Bastard, a yeast-raised doughnut with chocolate frosting, Oreos and peanut butter; the Arnold Palmer, a plain cake doughnut with vanilla frosting that's dusted with lemonade and iced-tea powder; and the crunchy cereal-covered Captain My Captain. Don't leave without getting one of the signature voodoo-doll doughnuts, a fluffy specimen plumped with raspberry jelly and coated in chocolate. After all, how often do you get to eat a pastry shaped like a strange little man?