If cupcakes were the “it” thing in 2005, then donuts are the new cupcake. Specialty and gourmet donut shops are popping up everywhere and Virginia is keeping up with the trends. Whether you prefer cake donuts, yeast donuts, extra sprinkles or simple glaze, there’s a shop for you. From crazy decoration to simple homemade goodness, these 10 donut shops will leave you hungry for more.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Pure Eats, Lexington
Considered some of the best donuts around, Pure Eats on Main Street in historic downtown Lexington offers donuts that are baked in-house daily. Flavors change regularly, but you can always count on the melt-in-your-mouth amazingness of their signature cinnamon sugar doughnut. Depending on the day’s menu, Banana Split, Maple and Bacon and Sea Salt on Chocolate are just a few of the flavors you might find. You’ll need to call ahead for orders of more than 2-dozen, but it will be well worth the phone call.
2. Sugar Shack, Richmond and Alexandria
What do you do when you make one of the best doughnuts in the country according to USA Today? You start your plan for world-domination, that’s what. Sugar Shack may have only been open since 2013, but they are already expanding beyond their Richmond and Arlington locations with shops in Fredericksburg, Midlothian and Charlottesville slated to open this year. But you won’t be surprised once you try these amazing culinary creations – there are basic flavors, of course, but where else can you find a fried chicken and maple flavored doughnut that actually gets rave reviews? Seasonal favorites include Tequila Sunrise for Cinco de Mayo, Cadbury Egg for Easter and Irish Dough Bombs for St. Patty’s day. Be sure to check their facebook page for the daily freebie challenge where you can score a free donut for things like wearing a fake mustache, reciting the preamble to the Constitution or singing the theme song to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
3. O’ Doodle Doo’s, Suffolk
O' Doodle Doo's might be a small shop in a small town, but they are making big waves. Already featured in nearly 20 online and print publications, they are fast becoming known for their handmade, hand decorated and absolutely innovative donuts. With more than 300 flavors on their menu, you can find an ever-changing variety of 17-25 flavors every day. And if you STILL can’t find what you want, call them and they’ll make it for you. That’s service. Be sure to add this creative donut dynamo to your next Suffolk trip. You won’t be sorry.
4. O’s Donuts, Norfolk
Like most specialty donut shops, O’s in Norfolk makes all of their deliciously crafted donuts fresh in-house. But what sets them apart is you. Their build-your-own model allows you to pick a donut, choose a glaze, then add the toppings of your choice for a custom donut experience that has limitless possibilities. Some customer favorites include maple with heath bar, lemon with coconut, orange with chocolate and key lime with graham crackers. When you actually get to watch the dough be cooked in front of you, you know you’re getting the freshest donut possible.
5. Paul’s Bakery, Fredericksburg
Featuring a separate menu for cake, regular and filled donuts, Paul’s Bakery has been serving Fredericksburg old-fashioned, homemade donut-ty goodness for more than 40 years. And even after all of these years, lines are still out the door. Fortunately, they’ve stayed with the times and you can order online – otherwise you run the risk of missing out on your favorites if you don’t get there early enough. The hardest part will be leaving without taking at least a dozen donuts, brownies, cakes and their other home-baked treats with you.
6. Carol Lee Donuts, Blacksburg
Carol Lee Donuts is a Blacksburg legend. You’d be hard pressed to find a Virginia Tech alum, Blacksburg native or regular visitor who hasn’t made Carol Lee’s a staple of their diet at some time or another. The small shop at the North End of Main Street in Blacksburg has been run by three generations of the same family and they still deliver the same made-to-perfection handcrafted donuts that made them a favorite in 1968. Light, airy and absolutely mouth watering. Just remember to bring cash – Carol Lee’s doesn’t accept cards!
7. Mrs. Yoder’s Donuts, Richmond
The elusive Mrs. Yoder’s donut is, if anything, well worth the hunt. The Yoder Family began selling donuts at Richmond area farmer’s markets about 5 years ago and have quickly gone from selling dozens of donuts to thousands on any given day. The family of 7 is often up before the sun to travel from their McKenney home. Their secret is a family-created sourdough recipe that is mixed, shaped and fried right there on the truck so every donut is fresh and absolutely delicious. Even though they only offer glazed donuts, one bite and you won’t want anything else.
8. Strite’s Donuts, Harrisonburg
Touted as the “original donut truck in the Shenandoah Valley”, Strite’s has certainly grown since they started with 2 flavors and a single truck in 2004. Now they offer two mobile trailers and a shop in Harrisonburg to make sure that their donuts are hot, fresh and always available. They don’t have the crazy concoctions and far-out flavors that you might find at other shops, instead they focus on making really great donuts and doing it really well. Just be sure to bring your appetite because these country-style donuts are also country-style huge!
9. Sunrise Donuts and Sweets, Hayes
Next time you’re in Gloucester County, Sunrise Donuts and Sweets needs to top your priority list. These deliciously light and airy donuts are what dreams are made of. For the best selection, get there early and reward yourself for not hitting the “snooze” button with a fresh-fruit filled, s’mores or maple bacon donut and a cup of gourmet coffee. The staff is friendly – even when they open their doors at 4am on Thursdays and Fridays to accommodate the shipyard crews. Now that’s service.
10. Spudnuts, Charlottesville
You might have to look twice so that you don’t miss this small, inauspicious donut shop near the downtown mall in Charlottesville. But that wasn’t always the case. Spudnuts began in the 1940s when war-time made flour scarce. The Pelton brothers started the chain using a unique potato flour that they’d first tried in Germany. The chain was once huge with 200 shops around the country. But as times changed, the parent company closed and now only a few shops remain. Spudnuts in Charlottesville now uses a special wheat and potato blend, but still serves some of the tastiest donuts in the state. Don’t be surprised it they’ve already run out by 10am, so be sure to get there early. It’s worth the trip.
I have to admit, I am more than ok with donuts being the latest trend. With so many amazing places to choose from, the hardest part is going to be picking a favorite. Where do you go for your favorite donuts? We are always ready to hear about any shops we might have overlooked!