It can be argued that local foodies have sidelined doughnuts in favour of lighter and healthier treats in recent years, such as plant-based gelato and Japanese cheesecake. But deep down, it is obvious that the city always had a soft spot for the ring-shaped fried treats—why else would local establishments keep making them?
Chewy and fluffy, doughnuts serve as the perfect afternoon office treats or birthday-cake substitutes (Cartems Donuts takes custom letter doughnut orders). The wide range of varieties and flavours offered around town keep things interesting.
In light of National Doughnut Day, here are a dozen places (and an honourary mention) to find great doughnuts around Metro Vancouver.
1. Breka Bakery and Café (various locations)
Open 24/7 with several locations across the city, Breka is a popular purveyor of all things sweet. Besides its mouth-watering cakes and pastries, its menu also features various chewy and fluffy doughnuts. The flavours here range from dulce de leche to strawberry-white chocolate to chocolate-hazelnut filled—all of which pair perfectly with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. There’s nothing fancy or out-of-the-ordinary when it comes to these doughnuts, just classic recipes that will satisfy your stomach.
2. Cartems Donuts (various locations)
Known for its roster of yeast, cake, as well as vegan and gluten-free doughnuts, Cartems sure knows how to make treats look and taste good. Its flavours include vanilla bean, smoked maple walnut, London fog, earl grey, and the vegan and gluten-friendly salted caramel. Special flavours rotate onto the menu every so often, such as pistachio mousse and berry parfait. Cartems also creates hand-made letter doughnuts and doughnut cakes for special occasions, but orders must be placed in advance.
3. Dipped Doughnut Co. (online ordering and delivery only)
This relatively new doughnut business works out of a commissary kitchen to create its 100% vegan doughnuts. For those who are skeptical of whether or not a vegan doughnut can be satisfying, trust us—they are just as tasty as non-vegan ones. Its flavours include blue dream (yeast fried-doughnut, vanilla glaze, sour blue raspberry crystals, blue-raspberry candy), the dirty (yeast fried-doughnut, vanilla glaze, cookie crumbles, and Oreo pieces), and the nutty professor (gluen-free baked chocolate doughnut, peanut butter glaze, salted peanuts, and chocolate drizzle). Mini doughnuts and dough balls are also on the menu, and its products are only available for online order and delivery.
4. Duffin’s Donuts (1391 East 41st Avenue)
Don’t mistake this family-owned and operated doughnut shop with the American chain, Dunkin’ Donuts. Duffin’s has over 50 varieties of doughnuts, which range from honey dip to boston cream, and sour cream old-fashioned to double chocolate. It’s also open 24/7, so if you ever find yourself craving some quality doughnuts at three in the morning, this is the place to go (you might as well pick one some of their famed fried chicken to go with your late-night snack).
5. The Gluten-Free Epicurean (633 East 15th Avenue)
For those who have always wanted to indulge in doughnuts but were refrained from doing so due to dietary restrictions, the Gluten-Free Epicurean has come to your rescue. Besides being gluten-free, this bakery’s doughnuts come in flavours that are vegan, dairy-, and nut-free. You won’t know what doughnuts will be offered until the day-of, because the team likes to keep it a surprise for their customers. Past flavours that have been featured include chocolate and vanilla-matcha, coconut-lime, blueberry-cardamom, and lemon-lavender, among others.
6. Harmony Donut Shop (2945 Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver)
We’ve heard stories of people making the trek to the North Shore just for Harmony’s doughnuts, which is a tiny shop that has been in operation for more than 45 years. As you step inside the memorabilia-filled interior, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a pop culture museum. But the stars of the show are the no-fuss doughnuts, which have a crispy exterior and soft interior covered in colourful glazes and classic toppings like sprinkles and nuts. The cash-only spot doesn’t have a website, but you can call ahead to see if they’ll be open when you visit. Homer Simpson would definitely approve.
7. Honey Doughnuts & Goodies (4373 Gallant Avenue, North Vancouver)
Nestled in Deep Cove’s lush surroundings is this quaint little family-owned café that serves up the most satisfying post-hike treat: homemade doughnuts. Attracting locals, tourists, and A-list celebs, Honey’s limited menu of doughy goodness still has people lining up out the door on weekends (45-minute waits are not uncommon). If you manage to visit on a slower day, be sure to grab a dozen of its staple flavours: honey, maple, and chocolate.
8. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (7153 120 Street, Delta)
Even though this American doughnut-and-coffee chain is neither local nor family-owned, it’s still serves up some damn good doughnuts. Its only B.C. outlet is situated out in Delta, so you’ll have to make a trek to get your hands on these babies—but it’s worth it. A dozen of its famed Original Glazed™ doughnuts will last you the car-ride home, because you won’t be able to resist the sweet-smelling goods. Other popular flavours include chocolate-iced glazed, maple-iced glazed, and powdered strawberry-filled. Keep an eye out for its rotating list of limited-time seasonal offerings.
9. L’Abattoir (217 Carrall Street)
This Gastown restaurant may not be the first place that comes to mind when you crave doughnuts. In fact, its other menu items can overshadow this treat that they’ve managed to master. But it’s no secret that L’Abattoir creates tasty doughnuts—ones that are soft, chewy and dusted with sugar, with fillings that range from malted milk chocolate to lemon curd to berry jelly. They are only available as part of the pastry basket offerings during its weekend brunch service (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), and the flavours change weekly.
10. Lee’s Donuts (1689 Johnston Street)
Granville Island is home to many dessert shops, but there’s one particular mainstay that has managed to satisfy sweet-tooths for almost 40 years. Lee’s Donuts opened at the market in 1979, serving up traditional cakey and doughy delights that range from chocolate-dipped with sprinkles to old-fashioned to jelly-filled. Its signature flavour is the honey dip, which is covered with a house-made honey glaze and best served warm. After so many decades and passing on the business to new owners, Lee’s still satisfies every single time.
11. Lucky’s Doughnuts (various locations)
49th Parallel Coffee Roasters decided to open a doughnut shop five years ago to fulfill their idea of a coffee-and-doughnut combo—the best of both worlds. Their project, Lucky’s Doughnuts, opened in 2012 and it’s been on a roll ever since. Its rotating menu features well-loved flavours like glazed-ring, classic old-fashioned, lemon meringue, and PB&J. The sourdoughnut was also created here, which is the first 100% naturally leavened doughnut in Canada. All the treats are made in-house throughout the day, so you won’t have to worry about how long the fried rings have been sitting in the glass case.
12. Their There (2042 West 4th Avenue)
This casual Kitsilano coffee shop is known for its hearty breakfast and lunch items, as well as a rotating selection of pastries (think cronuts and cookies). But not too many city-dwellers know about its doughnut offerings, which aren’t even listed on its menu. If you happen to stroll in on a lucky day, you may find these deep-fried rings of delight in flavours such as matcha-glazed jelly, confetti cruller, milk and cereal, chocolate hazelnut, s’mores, and more. Their There’s doughnut selection changes often and sell-out quickly, so it’s best to check its Instagram beforehand to avoid disappointment.
Honourary Mention: Those Little Donuts at PNE (2901 East Hastings Street)
The Fair at the PNE is always a fun family-friendly attraction in the summer, and its food offerings never disappoint. One of the most popular fair treats are mini donuts—specifically from Those Little Donuts. The folks here have been making these classic delights since 1968, using one-of-a-kind donut machines to churn out warm and fluffy little pillows coated with the perfect amount of cinnamon sugar. It’s always wise to buy more than one bag, in case you want to share with others or have a second serving while waiting in line for your favourite rides. If you can’t wait until this vendor arrives in the late summer, you can always opt for the Playland knock-off, Fundunkers.