When we first arrived in Old Lyme, Beach Donuts was the buzz. We seemed to have houseguests every weekend in those days, and I would dutifully drive over to Hartford Ave and queue up at 6:30 in the morning for a bag of hot crullers. As you can imagine, this wasn’t a good idea every single Sunday. We finally weaned ourselves off of this weekend ritual. In the meantime, donut shops have been popping up all over the Shoreline. Over the years, we’ve covered a few, and we’ve intended to pull together a full-on survey of artisanal offerings. While I can’t resist a steaming apple cider donut come fall, I try to steer clear of fried bits of dough. Luckily Laura (with her daughter – one needs an accessory stomach) was up to the task. Donuts are a happy food, eaten on the fly, just the thing for a pandemic-pick- me-up. Here’s what we found.
Deviant Donuts, Mystic
One can’t just casually roll up to the porch at Deviant Donuts and expect to pop in and out for donuts. This super popular donut and gourmet coffee shop pumps out a ton of inventory daily but it goes quickly and now we understand why. Originally Vault Coffee Roasters, they now produce the perfect companion to their hearty cups of joe. Brioche, cake, gluten-sensitive and vegan donuts presented each week in a different theme keeps curious newbies and devotees lining up on the porch (and on down the sidewalk). On our third attempt at snagging donuts (sold out, line was too long), we were sure to be first in line at 7 a.m. on a Sunday for the BEST OF collection. We opted for Oreo, French Toast (with strawberries), Cup of Dirt (gummy worms) and our favorite, Nutella-filled. Order ahead and pick up at the window. We missed the highly Instagrammable Harry Potter theme by two weeks but here’s a pic and more info.
27 Coogan Blvd Building 6, Mystic
Young Buns Doughnuts, Mystic
It comes as no surprise to us that these made-from-scratch (by the award-winning dream team behind Sift Bakery) doughnuts are layered in flavor and texture and also in very high demand. We made a point to arrive at this downtown Mystic shop first thing on a Saturday to ensure our fair supply. Young Buns elegantly displays its broad selection of hand-cut, yeast-leavened brioche doughnuts and it’s easy to order while making your way through the line. Our top pick, here, was the Young Bun, a vanilla cake doughnut covered with a sweet and salty crunch. The artful, heart-shaped Lemon Bergamot worked perfectly as a gift for a friend and we couldn’t leave without rainbow sprinkles. More info and hours here.
46 W Main St, Mystic
Flanders Donut and Bake Shop, East Lyme
This trusty donut shop, dating back to 1972 is a standout for us. Dozens of confections line the shelves for a revolving door of die-hards shuffling in for boxes of fresh and chewy yeast-raised and old-fashioned cake donuts. We left with a half dozen including coconut, traditional and strawberry glazed plus the highly indulgent Maple Bacon and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (filled with peanut butter). Get here early on weekends as they do sell out. See more pics and read more here.
327 Flanders Road, East Lyme
Nana’s Bakery, Mystic
We come for the outstanding pizza and yet we just can’t resist Nana’s sourdough donuts. Order an Umami, served hot and draped in caramel, and pair it with the Oaxacan coffee made from Espresso, milk, Pilancillo, dark chocolate, and Chili De Arbol. We sampled the delightfully crunchy chocolate donut last time, too. Additional flavors we’ve yet to try are Cacio E Pepe, Cardamom Espresso, and Cinnamon Sugar. Next time! Read more about Nana’s here.
32 Williams Avenue, Mystic
The Classic Cruller at Beach Donuts, Clinton
Blazing Fresh Donuts, Guilford
Blazing Fresh Donuts’ tag line is: “They’re a BFD!” While that most certainly is true, there’s another acronym that’s just as accurate: They’re WEC: Worth Every Calorie! For starters, you won’t find racks of donuts displayed in this shop. Rather, each and every donut is made-to-order on the spot. Secondly, they are made out of cake batter and flash-fried. Now here’s the fun part: You get to design your own donut! First a frosting—all homemade—then a topping ranging from sweet to salty—and finally a drizzle. Once served, it’s still warm, offers a bit of a crusty crunch and then melts in your mouth. Read more and see hours here.
16 Church Street, Guilford
Donut Crazy, Branford
When traveling the strip mall-lined stretch of Route 1 in Branford and feeling a bit peckish, you don’t need to settle for Five Guys or Wendy’s anymore. If it’s a sweet treat you’re after, check out the newest outpost of Donut Crazy, the Fairfield-based baker of dough bomb insanity. Toppings and fillings run the gamut of Pop Tarts, Cannoli, Movie Night, S’mores (yay), and so many more. My favorite was the relatively sane Maple and Bacon, but this is coming from a girl who prefers her donuts plain. They’re a fun treat to surprise the family with on a weekend morning. Read more here.
972 West Main Street, Branford