By KELLY SMITH
The American Dream can be defined, easily, in one way: being surrounded by heaping piles of airy dough fried in fat. Forget the white picket fences and 401Ks; who would want any of that nonsense in their final hour when they could be enjoying, for one final time, the classic comfort of sugary glazed goodness? Looking back, it’s easy to feel bad for the guys at the Last Supper; the real way to go out would’ve been with a bang, chowing down on a few dozen of the most outrageous, gooey, artery-clogging donuts.
Tampa is home to some of the most ridiculous food items imaginable. There’s nothing like a butternut squash tostada from Taco Bus at 2 a.m. or the death wish made up of a fried mac and cheese bunned burger, known as The Cheesy Todd, from Datz. However, in the past seven or eight years, Tampa has caught on to a true art form where real finesse and skill is a requirement: the art of gourmet donuts. It isn’t a coincidence that the top three donut shops in the city can be found all within a ten-mile radius and won’t give your wallet grief. The best things in life are either free or come by the dozen for less than ten dollars.
Soho Donut Company
117 South Hyde Park Avenue
Within walking distance from The University of Tampa, Soho Donut Company is a tiny hole in the wall where they serve up some humbleness with their crazy donuts. Don’t see what you’re looking for in the glass case? They’ll make any donut on the menu to order, and there’s no minimum requirement. That’s right—they’ll make one donut, just for you. They’re good people, and their donuts are even better.
Most notable of the half dozen would be the Samoan, a fancy caramel donut topped with toasted coconut flakes and chocolate drizzle. No longer do you have to wait until Girl Scout Cookie season to get a taste of the best combination of sweets—Soho Donut Company serves it up, donut style, year round. It even looks like a giant Samoan Girl Scout cookie, and it doesn’t get any better than that.
2602 South MacDill Avenue
The most bourgeois of the three doughnut shops included in this list, Dough sits next door to Datz in the heart of South Tampa. Upon walking in, you’re faced with the most regal of settings—black and white checkered tile welcomes you, followed by a ceiling with fluffy clouds painted on top of a blue sky, and deep magenta walls sit below glittering pink chandeliers. Straight ahead is a glass case where the goods are: donuts, macarons, eclairs, chocolates, homemade ice cream, cupcakes…yes, this is probably what Heaven looks like.
The most popular donut is one of the most simple, yet extraordinary: the maple bacon bar. The donut is a yeast long john filled with vanilla custard, topped with house made maple frosting and a strip of Neuske bacon. Yes, that’s right—bacon. It’s breakfast and diabetes all in one piece of dough, and it tastes amazing.
Furthermore, Dough has newly introduced the ice cream donut cone as a permanent offering on its menu after a test run resulted in 200 cones selling out in forty-five minutes.
- Mini Doughnut Factory
2109 South Dale Mabry Highway
If you’re looking for a show, head over to Mini Doughnut Factory. On a regular Sunday afternoon, the line normally snakes around the narrow, undersized shop twice. To your left you’ll see the employees doing what they do best: decorating each mini donut by hand, painting on icing in a mesmerizing process. A “six pack” costs less than five dollars, and they even have gluten free options. Either create your own mini masterpiece or pick from a list of favorites. Most notable were: the cotton candy, which is a vanilla donut with strawberry icing, topped with cotton candy Pop Rocks. Runner up: the Homer Simpson, which yes, looks like it popped directly out of an episode of The Simpsons with strawberry icing on a vanilla donut topped with rainbow sprinkles. Homer would be proud.