I Went On A Donut Tour In Chicago And It Was As Awesome As It Sounds
Posted on June 10, 2021 Posted by Athena Scalzi 29 Comments
This past weekend when I visited Chicago, I did all the usual things such as visit the aquarium, go to the top of the Willis Tower, and ride the Navy Pier Centennial Wheel. Though I’ve done these things a few times before, it was still enjoyable. There was one thing, though, that was new to me, and it was amazing. I’m talking about Chicago’s Underground Donut Tour.
What is a donut tour, you may ask. It’s a roughly two mile long walking tour where you get to not only see four of the best donut shops the city has to offer, but try several different donuts along the way! The donuts you receive on the tour are included in the cost of the ticket. You get to try either one or two pre-selected types of donuts per stop on the tour. If it’s one type, you get half the donut, and if it’s two types, you get a quarter of a donut (so it still equals a half after you’ve had both kinds). The guides that led our tour also provided historical, architectural, and donut related fun facts and stories, so that was a bonus.
On the tour I went on, we went to Doughnut Vault, Firecakes Donuts, Stan’s Donuts, and Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken. I had never heard of any of these places before, but after trying one (or more) types of donuts from their establishments, I can see why they’re on the tour.
First up was Doughnut Vault. We were told that they have a different specialty donut every day, and they change the lineup of specialty donuts every week. What I would give to try every flavor! Alas, I must be satisfied with the one flavor we got to try on the tour, which was Chocolate Hazelnut.
This bad boy started off the tour strong! If you like Nutella and Ferroro Rochers, you would love this donut. It was the perfect amount of decadent without being too much. This one was in my top three for sure, I’d even say it was the runner-up for best donut.
After walking for a bit and crossing a bridge along the way, we arrived at Firecakes Donuts, where we were provided with two different types of donuts: Tahitian Vanilla Iced and Churro.
The Tahitian Vanilla Iced was a smidge subtle, but delicious nonetheless. It was like, almost delicate in terms of the vanilla flavor. The Churro on the other hand was a little more meh, but still perfectly enjoyable overall. We were told that Firecakes Donuts also sells ice cream donut sandwiches, so that’s super cool!
Next on the list was Stan’s Donuts. I actually didn’t get any pictures of the two we tried from there because I was busy drinking the bottle of water the guides handed out (that was our second bottle, both bottles we received were included in the ticket cost).
Honestly, I’m not too torn up about not getting pictures of the Stan’s Donuts donuts, because it was my least favorite stop on the tour. We tried a Biscoff Cookie Spread Donut, and a Red Velvet Donut. As much as I love Biscoff Cookies and Biscoff Cookie Spread, the donut was just okay, and the Red Velvet was fine, as well, but nothing special.
The last stop was the real show-stealer. Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken. You wouldn’t think a place that sells chicken sandwiches would have the most incredible buttermilk old-fashioned donut you’ve had in your life, but you’d be wrong, because they absolutely do.
Honestly, they look a little weird, but trust me when I say this donut is a game-changer. This donut was the single best donut I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot of donuts in my day. I’ve even tried several kinds from Voodoo Donuts! This old fashioned really takes the cake, and was by far my favorite on the tour.
There was another donut we got to try at this location, but I was so completely donut-ed out that I couldn’t bring myself to eat it, and I don’t even remember what the flavor offered was. Sorry about that! I’m sure it was good, though.
Anyways, the point of this post is not just to make you jealous with photos of incredibly delicious donuts (that’s just a side benefit). The point of this is to recommend the Underground Donut Tour to you! Not only do they do two different tours in Chicago, but in several cities across America as well! You’ve got an Underground Donut Tour in New York City, Boston, Seattle, Portland, and Philadelphia!
I don’t know if all the guides are as awesome as the two from my tour were, but if they are, you’re in for a real treat. The donut tour was one of the most fun things I did in the city, and I’m so glad I gave it a shot. It’s something that’s different and interesting, but won’t break the bank. Tickets are only $30 a person, and kids tickets are even cheaper! They also accommodate to dietary restrictions and allergies! Honestly, what’s not to love?
The next time I’m in Chicago, I’m hoping to get a chance to take their other tour. I did the Downtown one, but they also have a West Loop one, so that’s pretty neat.
Have you ever had donuts from any of these locations before? What did you think? Have you done a donut tour before? What’s your favorite kind of donut? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!
There used to be a convenience store chain in Chicago (might’ve even been all of IL, and I vaguely recall there was at least one in IN, but I digress) called White Hen Pantry. My father would get lots of different donuts there. I liked the chocolate, and the glazed.
Don’t y’all have Krispy Kreme up there?
Also . . . donuts and chicken? I thought I’d seen everything when I saw two Krispy Kreme donuts being used as a hamburger bun, but I guess not.
Old-fashioned is the right name for the Do-Rite donuts. They look just like the ones my grandmother fried in a cast iron skillet on the stove 50 years ago. They were so good…
If you are ever back in Portland, Blue Star onuts beats Voodoo on quality if not entertainment.
Asking for a friend: none of this is LITERALLY underground, right? (She keeps asking, “Does Chicago have catacombs?”)
I agree with your assessment of both Firecakes and Stan’s. Haven’t tried the others, but now I want to!
Nightshade1972, I miss White Hen.
The underground doughnut* tour is what makes America great.
By great, I mean… Large.
I desperately want to go on this doughnut tour.
Donuts are my kryptonite. I would totally smash that box of old-fashioneds in the last pic.
A few years ago I was in Colorado and went to a place in Arvada that served pulled-pork donut sliders. OMG…made me fantasize briefly about moving back there.
Because there is so much underground in Chicago, including a network of pedestrian passages called the Pedway, I had half assumed that the tour actually was underground.
Chicago’s one of those cities where the street level was raised; some of the original street level shows up in places like Lower Wacker Drive.
OMG, adding this tour to my itinerary the next time I visit Chicago! I love donuts and love food tours, so this would be a must for me. Thanks for the report!
My two favorite donut shops, both long closed:
– Penny Hill Doughnut Shop near Wilmington DE. Italian-immigrant-run place, later replaced with a Dunkin’s. (Which is still not bad, but less character.)
– Donut Delite, an Indian restaurant in Freehold NJ. Orange formica atmosphere with a big donut painted on the wall, but it also sold hamburger-type lunches and (mostly Southern) Indian food. We’d take friends there after church, their kids didn’t have to act formal because it’s an orange formica diner, the 2-year-old saw the donut on the wall and was transfixed until her parents got her one, the 5-year-old who wanted ketchup was told “here, this is brown ketchup and this is green ketchup” and was ok with both on her samosa, and we could get dosas.
I did discover a new Dunkin’s around here (Silicon Valley) yesterday, so the nearest one is now 10 miles away instead of 20. There’s a Krispy Kreme by the freeway which has a drive-through and coffee. Most of the local donut shops are run by Cambodian immigrant families. The one nearby closes pretty early in the day, but they’re good if I go there early.
Forgot to mention Psycho Donuts in San Jose – worth stopping at if you’re downtown, lots of different creative hipster donuts.
The one Chicago donut place I’ve frequented was the Dunkin’s next to my company’s office on Randolph downtown. The big thing that distinguishes it from the ones a couple blocks away is being able to get coffee and donuts without going outside in the rain.
I’m not at all surprised by the combination of chicken and donuts: both involve frying in oil.
There’s a Voodoo Donuts opened up in Houston not too far from where I live, but I have yet to go try it. Gotta do that soon. (There is a small local non-chain donut shop in walking distance that has the best chocolate icing I’ve ever had on a donut, and that has removed some of my urgency as far as Voodoo Donuts goes.)
I love donuts! We used to get them on Saturdays when I was a kid. And much later in the day, when I was a teenager. These days, generally you can’t find a good donut after noon. And it’s a damned shame.
Stan’s is amazing. Do-Rite a close second in taste and enough cheaper That people might just go there instead. You had the best flavor at Do-Rite. Stan’s has many great flavors, but I would not pick either of those two.
Next time, try the pizza tour!
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Now I can’t think of anything except donuts. Delicious donuts. Buttermilk crispy donuts. Pastry cream filled donuts. Chocolate frosted donuts. …
Heh, this sounds fun and tasty! I’m not a donut fanatic, but I appreciate them and reading this made me hungry. ;-)
It reminds me of a similar tour I did in Melbourne, Australia: A CHOCOLATE TOUR! I highly recommend it, if it’s still out there! :-)
Well this sounds amazing….currently salivating and very hungry ha, ha, ha
Just moved back to Philly after 30 yrs in MI. At first I was bummed, being so far from Chicago, now. Then I saw there’s one here! It’s been added to my ever growing to do list. Thanks!
I love doughnuts. Have you ever tried making your own doighnuts? The flavors aren’t as exotic but freshly made doughnuts are heavenly.
“Likest thou jelly within thy doughnut?”
“Nay, but prithee, with sprinkles ‘pon it instead, I said solemnly, and frosting of white.”
-Eldest Gruff and Harry, Small Favor (JH)
I’m surprised that no one inserted a Harry Dresden quote yet – given the prevalence of donuts in the books and Chicago.
Voodoo may be the single most over-rated anything in any product market ever. I spend a lot of time in Portland. Was there last weekend, in fact.
Do you want to know what Voodoo is? Voodoo is standing in a line outside while being harassed by aggressive panhandlers…. for a donut. Whenever I’m with whoever has to go there, I always sit at the bar across the street and eat oysters and Guinness instead.
Old-fashioned for sure, either glazed or chocolate. If a donut shop makes a good one of those then I’ll go back and try other ones,
The Stan’s Buttermilk Old-fashioned look a lot like the sour cream doughnut that I get at the local bakery.
Next to peanut, sour cream is my fave. Maybe even a toss-up.
I know coffee’s not your thing (maybe it was not your Dad’s thing) but old-fashioned plain is always the best with coffee.
Never cared for glazed.
Krispy Kreme (don’t hate me) are not my thing either.
Now I have another thing to do in 2022 for the next Chicago Worldcon. Thank you!
Krispy Kreme aren’t my favorite either, but I’ll make an exception for their glazed donuts when they’re hot out of the fryer.
I’ve had KK, LaMars, and Voodoo (there’s a Voodoo right next door to Colorado’s only remaining lesbian bar, Blush & Blu!), but sometimes, nothing beats a big ol’ cinnamon roll from the local Winchell’s. (And they do have good buttermilk old-fashioned donuts, too.)
Incidentally, my roommate likes to eat cinnamon rolls with chili. Must be a Southern thing.
Donuts are my favorite cheat-food. I buy them for the office a couple of times a year so I can have a donut. I will eat all the donuts if I just go buy them :)
The old fashioned are my faves though I do really enjoy a French cruller.
Thanks for sharing!