You know you’ve been watching too much of the Food Network when you start planning your day around your food – even your adventures! Granted, food always holds a special part in my day anyways, but today just needed to be a food hunt. This is why, on a sunny afternoon, I dragged my family out on a hop around Vancouver, BC in search of the ever elusive, best doughnuts.
The West Coast is becoming a foodie’s delight; from San Francisco’s markets and Portland’s food truck kingdom, all the way up to Vancouver’s craft-indie-asian-foodie fusion (not an official term) – the West Coast eats well. Vancouver has a growing following for craft breweries, food trucks, restaurants, bakeries, sushi and much more. Basically, since there are so many opportunities to find great eats in the city, there are also no end of food-lists out there to advise you where to eat.
These food-lists are what got me started on this doughnut quest to begin with. All it took was reading an article on the VanCityBuzz that listed the best doughnuts in the city for me to be hooked. All I saw in this was a challenge: go to all the bakeries, and see if they really are that great – and eat a lot of doughnuts.
Stop #1: Swiss Bakery
The first stop on the hunt was the Swiss Bakery. While this bakery only made it onto the Vancity Buzz’s list as an “honourable mention”, the word-on-the-street was that it was definitely a place to hit – which made it our first stop.
Verdict: it did not disappoint!
Located along East 3rd Avenue, this humble little bakery is tucked just out of sight on the side road. It’s current claim-to-fame is the Frisson – a take on the widely popularized Cronut. The Frisson is a fritter and croissant hybrid, and it is absolutely delicious! I personally tried the chocolate favour (pictured below), but they have a variety of flavours made fresh in-store each day. It is flaky and gooey all in one beautiful mouthful!
While I chose the tactic of choosing the most delicious sounding doughnut that each place had to offer, my mum went with a much simpler approach. In every bakery we visited, she would try their version of the same type – the modest, glazed doughnut. She was also adamant by the end of the day that the Swiss Bakery was the best. I, on the other hand, found something creatively wonderful about each of the bakeries.
Overall, I think that this a gem of a bakery! The doughnut to get: the chocolate frisson or the classic glazed. The atmosphere is quiet and peaceful, perfect for an afternoon retreat.
Stop #2: Cartems Donuterie
There are a couple Cartems locations scattered across the city, but today we visited the one on Main Street. The whole bakery has a very relaxed, modern atmosphere with long, wooden tables to sit at while you enjoy your doughnuts.
The thing that I really appreciated about this bakery was that they offer vegan doughnuts as well – and they don’t taste terrible! I am one of those terribly flakey people that love animals so completely, and desperately want to be a vegan/better vegetarian, but it’s hard to avoid things like eggs and milk. Which is why, in a bakery like this where they provide that option, I feel even better about eating a delicious baked good (if that’s even possible)!
However, amongst my doughnut troop there was some disagreement: I absolutely loved the vegan earl grey doughnut; mum was not as fussed with her classic doughnut; and dad was easily pleased with the intriguing honey and parmesan cheese doughnut. The overall impression I had was that I would absolutely go back and get more – there are lots of unique flavours to choose from including Canadian Whiskey Bacon, but, unfortunately, they were also the most expensive doughnuts of the day.
Stop #3: Lee’s Donuts
If you are visiting Vancouver for the first time, or even the fifth or sixth time, Granville
Island is always a place to go. Located under the Granville Street Bridge, Granville Island is a market community; it’s filled with theatre venues, art collections, hand-crafted goods, and more delicious food than could ever be tasted. Amongst these foods is Lee’s Donuts.
This is not by any means my first time visiting Lee’s. We have been visiting the market for as long as I can remember, and a bag of Lee’s doughnut holes is always a given. They are truly wonderful, hot and fresh, and they melt in your mouth.
A must when visiting the city.
Stop #4: Lucky’s Doughnuts
Lucky’s Doughnuts has become a staple doughnut-haven for many Vancouverites. It is a name that I was very familiar with, even before I ever had a chance to visit it. This was my chance to finally experience what everyone was talking about!
However, it was a bit of a disappointing experience.
The doughnut that I had was good, but nothing too amazing. One of the reasons for this, in part, was created through the challenges of success. Since Lucky’s has grown so popular, there is always a significant line-up to get in. On top of that, when we visited, all the doughnuts had sold out except for the classic glazed (which suited mum just fine).
Basically, I would say that Lucky’s is worth a visit if you are in the area, but get there early and try to avoid visiting on beautifully sunny Saturdays if you want a good selection and even possibly a seat!
Final Stop: Honey Doughnuts & Goodies
Honey Doughnuts is located in the quaint North Shore community of Deep Cove. We didn’t officially make it to this location during our Saturday Doughnut Hunt. However, I did make it out there to try their doughnuts later that week. Their honey doughnut makes a beautiful dessert after a classic North Shore hike. Perfect end to a hiking day!
I have to say, Honey’s doughnuts are absolutely heavenly. They aren’t your typical doughnut either; they are larger and more cake-like, and simply ooze honey. I will not lie, I went in and bought a second (this time a chocolate one), and could have eaten more!
Let me know if you have any favourite doughnut haunts in your neighbourhood too!