D-Day: Rise of the Donuts
At laaaaaast, my love has come along. My lonely days are over, and life is like a… donut?
It’s taken us a few months to upload, but it’s finally here! Our first map & blog post about D-Day: Rise of the Donuts. For those of you who have been anticipating this since April (whoops) – we’re SORRY, friends. But we promise we’ll make it up to you. Starting now.
The Hole Story
It all began early in the year, shortly after Christmas 2017. I’d just recovered from one of those terrible sickness cycles (you know the kind). I had also quickly resumed the tedious “keto diet” that I’d been following from August until mid-December. Needless to say, the sudden shift from having relapsed into all things doughy, sugary and salty to a strict regimen of <20g of net carbs a day and as little sugar as possible, caused my hankering for goodies to be at an all-time high. I was literally dreaming about donuts.
Sleeping. During the day. Pre- mid- and post-digestion. All I could think about were donuts. Big, small, with hole, holeless, hole-only, filled, cake-based, glazed, WHATEVER. I wanted them all and I wanted them now.
In order to curb my clear descent into donut insanity, I decided to plan an epic donut scavenger hunt across the city for after I was scheduled to come off the keto diet. And after weeks of planning, what began as an idle joke finally morphed into a real, feasible feast. As always, I brought Ryan along for the ride. After all, he is a well-known donut connoisseur in his own right.
The following spreadsheet is the result of hours of work, cold calls and careful colour coordination. Please use at your leisure/pleasure – but heed my warning: THIS IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART(burn).
With our spreadsheet edited and loaded into our phones, on a sunny Friday afternoon, Ryan and I set out by foot to tackle the highly-anticipated donut trek. Ten minutes in and it was mutually agreed upon that our list of 10 donut stops would be physiologically impossible. Instead, we re-assessed, re-grouped, and divided our list into two parts. This is our (first) story.
- Breka Bakery
Address: 818 Bute Street
So it begins. Our first stop, Breka Bakery & Cafe, happens to be located only a 30 second walk from our building door. This is both good and bad. Good because at any time of day or night, we can easily satisfy our food cravings with a fresh panini, flaky pastry, or fancy slice of cake. Bad because this makes Breka my #1 drunchie stop on the way home from 3am weekend shenanigans.
- French Crueller – One of my ultimate favourite donuts (we started on a high note). Ultra moist, delicate and light, this golden glazed ring perfectly prepped my palate for the rest of our day. Would recommend.
- Vanilla Dip – Ryan’s choice & his favourite type of donut. This chocolate-coated, rainbow-sprinkled treat is super fluffy and airy, with just the right ratio of icing to dough. Both donuts were simple and sweet – but we wanted MORE.
- Lucky’s Doughnuts
Address: @ 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters,
689 Thurlow Street
Hours: 6:30 AM – 6:30 PM
You can find Lucky’s Doughnuts at 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters, located on the ground level of a swanky business building in the heart of Downtown Vancouver. Not only can you pair the gourmet donut (or “doughnut” as they spell it) with a thick, warm cup of java, but their breakfast plates and sammies are not to be passed up. Our pro-tip is to make sure you get there as early as possible if you want their full selection of donuts. I’ve made the mistake – more than once – of stopping by in the late afternoon and encountering grave disappointment when told that they’ve all been sold out since 2pm.
- PB & J – Peanut butter is the sauce of gods. And peanut butter, jelly AND donut? Out of this world. I swear that this MAMMOTH donut weighed close to 2 lbs, so as good as it was, I would recommend splitting it with a friend. Or not. Trust me, it’s worth it either way.
- Apple Bacon Fritter – I tasked Ryan with tackling the baseball-sized dough ball that was the Apple Bacon Fritter. The flavour pairing was incredible – especially if you’re a fan of sweet and savoury, but Lucky’s lost a point here because the donut was just a little too dense.
- Cartems Donuts
Address: 534 W Pender Street
Hours: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
You haven’t lived if you haven’t been to Cartems Donuts. Or rather – you haven’t lived in Vancouver. One of the most notoriously well-known donut joints in the area, Cartems now has expanded to three locations across the city. In fact, this donut shop may be the first of its kind in Vancouver to have hopped on the gourmet donut train – and they’re still whistling. Most locals know Cartems donuts from whichever godsend colleague of theirs decided to surprise the office or department meeting with an offering of quirky, uniquely flavoured donuts. That said – you can definitely win a lot of friends after picking up a dozen of these bad boys.
- Honey Parmesan – This cake-based donut was a welcome palate cleanser after the first couple of incredibly sweet yeasty treats. The dough itself is incredibly moist with a hint of sweetness, blanketed with the tangy, salty goodness of parmesan cheese. For those of you who love sweet and savoury combos, this little guy is a must-grab.
- Tropical *Special* – Ryan picked one of the monthly specials, a tropical donut filled with a fruit puree that we’re pretty sure included passionfruit and mango. This one was also not too sweet – the cream centre was fluffy like whipped cream, finished with the sweet bite of citrus icing.
- New Town Bakery
Address: 148 E Pender Street
Hours: 6:30 AM – 8:30 PM
At this point in the day, Ryan and I had slowed to a carb-induced limp. On our way across the bridge from Gastown to East Van, we decided to include the famous New Town Bakery on our list of donut shop stops – despite the fact that technically it is not a donut shop at all. Better known for catering to the dim sum lovers of the area, New Town Bakery offers not only a collection of freshly baked Chinese goods, but it also doubles as a cafe, serving up hot food in a sit-down restaurant at the back of the store. Sadly, we only had time (and stomach real estate) to try two treats.
- Sweet Chinese Donut – This donut catfished us – but in a good way (if there is a good way). From the exterior, this dense ball of fried dough isn’t exactly the most appealing thing we’d ever seen. However, if you’ve ever grown up eating slightly-sweet, chewy Asian buns and bread – then this donut is the ultimate nostalgic delicacy.
- BBQ Pork Bun – Okay, so Ryan’s pick was 100% not a donut. But in an effort to clear the after effects of sickeningly-sweet sugar from coating the back of his throat, he opted for New Town’s BBQ pork bun. It was no donut, but I mean… yeah. It was amazing.
Address: 1689 Johnston Street
Hours: 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Our rating system may have been a bit skewed once we’d waddled over to our 10th donut of the day. Thankfully, after having walked from Chinatown to East Van in an attempt to hit up Swiss Bakery, we were almost relieved to see it was actually closed. This isn’t because we didn’t want to try their city-famous cronuts, but rather because we desperately needed the extra 30 minutes of digestion time before making our way to Lee’s Donuts on Granville Island. Ask anyone in town, and they will probably direct you to Lee’s. Simple and classic – this shop has been running for over 38 years – and is a staple on Granville Island for both tourists and locals.
- Lemon Meringue – Ahhh, my last donut. I was so, so pleased to find out that although of course this donut was sweet – it was also moist and tangy with a subtle lemon flavour that helped settle my sugar-addled tummy. Lee’s donuts are smaller than – say – Lucky’s, but they nonetheless pack a punch.
- Glazed – Another of Ryan’s favourite donuts, the traditional glazed is also a fan favourite at Lee’s. I would definitely recommend the glazed donut to anyone with or without a donut fetish – you cannot go wrong with this one.
New Town Bakery
After careful consideration, we decided that New Town’s Sweet Chinese Donut was the ultimate underdog winner of our first D-Day scavenger hunt. Despite its rather dismal appearance, this golden goddess of fried dough was the perfect balance of salty and sweet, dense and moist, and crunchy and fluffy. For those of you who have grown up eating Chinese cuisine, the taste of this donut will transport you back to those days sitting at a dim sum round table with the family, eagerly flagging down carts filled with delicious fried, steamed and stuffed snacks dripping in chili oil and pork fat. Yummmm.
Total donuts eaten: 10
Donut shops visited: 5
Calories consumed: Nope.
Hours spent: 5
Kilometres covered: >9km
Steps taken: >20k steps
Thick thighs, full bellies, can’t lose! Sign up to get notified of new blog posts – and follow us @howtofeedyourgiant on Instagram to stay tuned for the final installment of The Ultimate Vancouver Donut Map – Part 2.