3/09/2012 03:29:00 PM

Where to Get Your Gourmet Donut Fix in Philadelphia

Federal Donuts
Last month, New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells made the 90-mile trip south and came away swooning over Pennsport’s Federal Donuts. While he heaped praise on the twice-fried chicken, noting that the creative seasoning “boost[s] it into the realm of the extraordinary,” he devotes most of the space in the front-page Dining Section piece to the sweet side of the menu. Yet despite the success of the Michael Solomonov-helmed spot, there aren’t (yet) that many places to cop independent, housemade donuts in Philadelphia. Here are some great options we’ve tracked down. Have we missed your favorites? Let us know in the ongoing survey.

Beck’s Cajun Cafe: Chef Bill Beck serves up the best of New Orleans at this petite stand in Reading Terminal Market, and that includes the French take on a donut - beignets. These rectangular pillows of fluffy dough are fried up fresh each Wednesday and Sunday morning, dredged in powdered sugar and served six to an order until they run out (Reading Terminal Market; 215-592-0505).

Fitler Square Farmers Market: Head to the petite park just west of Rittenhouse every Saturday year-round to sample the apple-cider donuts from Deleware’s Highland Orchards. Despite their 25-mile trip into the city, these rich, cakelike snacks will delight almost any palate with their rich, spicy flavor and melt-in-the-mouth texture. Best of luck making it home without eating the whole half-dozen bag (23rd & Pine Sts.).

Frangelli’s: This family-run establishment has been operating out of the same South Philadelphia storefront since 1947, so it makes sense the doughnuts here are near perfect. In contrast with the cake-style pastries served at FD, these yeast-based treats are as light and classic as they come. Don’t miss the simple glazed version, and in the summer, look for the ice cream donut sandwich for the ultimate in guilty pleasure (847 W. Ritner St.; 215-271-7878).

Heirloom Dining: It’s worth the trek up Chestnut Hill for any of chef Al Paris’ resuscitated American classics, but none more so than this dessert. A large, airy donut is doused in a crackling sugar glaze (it varies from vanilla to chocolate) and served alongside housemade ice cream and rich fruit syrup (242-2700).

JG Domestic: Why the Iron Chef calls the fried dough dessert here “beignets” we’re not sure, seeing as the Circa Centre restaurant’s theme is all-American, but no matter - these treats from Jose Garces are delicious. Bite-sized and reminiscent of what you always wished Dunkin’ Donuts “holes” would taste like, dip 'em in the accompanying bourbon-vanilla mousseline and the Maker’s Mark caramel before popping in your mouth for a truly decadent bite (215-222-2363).


  1. You forgot Federal Donuts. Who doesn't love a grapefruit-brown sugar or a rasberry- balsamic donut on a Saturday morning?

  2. Read the first paragraph. Reviewer is going BEYOND Federal Donuts.