Recently our family embarked on an epic journey through the neighborhoods of Cleveland in search of something far greater than fame and fortune. Donuts! Or Doughnuts if that’s your preferred spelling. We like them both equally. Cleveland has a rich food history, which includes our favorite morning (or anytime) treat.
We decided that visiting one donut shop was not enough to satisfy our cravings so we forged a path around our fair city looking for the very best donuts Cleveland has to offer. Cleveland did not disappoint.
How does one visit eight donut shops in one morning? Very carefully! There’s no way our family of six would be able to all eat a donut at each shop without getting sick or going broke (or both). For some shops, we took turns picking out a couple donuts that we would all share. At other shops we did, in fact, all indulge in our own donut. We also came home with extra donuts to enjoy later in the day so we could pace ourselves.
Eight donut shops. Six people. One adventure. Let’s do this!
Becker’s Donuts & Bakery (Fairview Park)
The first stop on our journey was to a classic donut shop that has been around since 1952. I was apprehensive to make Becker’s our first stop because I love their donuts. Becker’s glazed yeast-raised donut is hard to top. Every donut shop makes a glazed donut, but this one is special.
The staff at Becker’s very gracious as we took up half of their shop, blocking other Saturday morning donut enthusiasts. We ended up with the aforementioned glazed donut as well as a cinnamon roll as big as my head. Both were unbelievably delicious.
Peace, Love, and Little Donuts (Cleveland)
If you are looking for customized donuts on the spot, Peace, Love, and Little Donuts is the spot! They have locations all over Ohio as well as other states. They are a donut chain in the same vein as Duck Donuts, The Fractured Prune or The Donut Experiment.
This is my youngest son’s favorite donut shop even though we had only been there once before. It probably has to do with all of the candy toppings available. Who doesn’t like candy for breakfast, right?! The flavors we chose were banana split, M&M, s’mores, and strawberry shortcake. PL&L is the perfect spot for taking younger kids. They have a huge variety of flavors and provide a fun, interactive experience that families will enjoy.
Doughnut Pantry (Lakewood)
I’ve read great reviews for Doughnut Pantry for a long time but had never visited until this trip. Doughnut Pantry is not a large shop. They don’t have a huge selection of donuts in their cases. That’s ok. They don’t try to be something they are not. What they do have are delicious classic donut flavors like chocolate cake, which we bought. We also got a powdered sugar cake donut for our youngest daughter. She’s weird. She doesn’t like donuts. I don’t know how that’s possible, but it’s true. The rest of us don’t mind because it means more for us. What she does love is those little packages of stale mini powdered sugar donuts from Little Debbie and Hostess. For real. She participated with taste testing at all of our stops, though. I had to throw her a bone and get one powdered sugar donut on this day. She loved it.
I am a proud Brewnuts Backer, having participated in their Kickstarter campaign before they opened their brick and mortar shop. Located in the Gordon Square neighborhood, Brewnuts make donuts using beer. It’s one of the main ingredients and it adds a depth of flavor other donuts are lacking. Don’t worry parents, the alcohol burns up through the frying process. All that’s left is deliciousness.
Brewnuts has one of the most inviting and eclectic atmospheres of any donut shop in the country. Our family immediately connected with the shop and decided we each would get our own donut and spend time chilling in their shop. The staff at Brewnuts is always friendly. We shared details of our adventure and they wished us good luck in surviving all eight shops.
Brewnuts has a unique menu that changes daily and offers seasonal twists out of the norm. On this day, our donut choices included:
- Maple Bacon
- Pecan Pie Bullseye
- Cinna Toast Crunch (the only other donut our youngest daughter likes)
- Chocolate/Heath/Chocolate Chip/Nutella
- Strawberry with Sprinkles
- Classic Glazed
Brewnuts is killing it on the donut scene, gaining recognition across the country for their artisan donuts. They deserve it too. There are a lot of good donut shops in Cleveland. However, if you are looking for a donut shop that “gets” Cleveland, do yourself a favor and stop in Brewnuts soon.
Bigmouth Donut Company – (Cleveland)
Several new donut shops popped up in the Cleveland over the last couple years. Bigmouth Donut Company was one of them. I’ve been trying forever to get to Bigmouth so I was excited to see the shop and taste the goods.
I’ll be honest. Picking a favorite donut might be just as difficult as picking a favorite child (the answer to both questions is “all of them”). I have my preferences like anyone else. Bigmouth Donut Company’s blueberry cake donut may very well be the best donut on the planet. No joke. It’s that good. It reminds me more of a blueberry muffin, but in donut form. There’s this outer, crispy crust and then an explosion of fresh blueberry flavor in the middle. Our family also indulged in a peanut butter chocolate donut that was excellent. Well worth the stop.
Daylight Donuts & Coffee (Cleveland Heights)
We headed east for our sixth stop of the day. Honestly, I didn’t think our kids would last this long. I feared a sugar-fueled energy rush followed by an equally powerful crash resulting in cranky kids. However, all the kids had phones or other electronic devices so they were in their own little world during the car ride. There are times that this is totally ok.
Daylight Donuts is another newer shop in Cleveland. They are a donut chain, but new to the area. Their shop has a unique location, sharing space with an auto repair business. It took a minute to figure out how to actually get to their parking lot and when we did, there were no spots. My wife pulled to the side and I hopped out and headed in alone, which is unfortunate because Daylight Donuts has a great atmosphere. I wish I could have sat with a donut and some great coffee, people watching for a while.
I did get some coffee, which hit the spot. I also picked up a few donuts, including a strawberry glazed cake, lemon glazed cake, and a s’mores donut. We enjoyed Daylight’s unique take on those flavors and look forward to our next trip.
Jack Frost Donuts (Cleveland)
You can’t mention Cleveland and donuts without thinking of Jack Frost Donuts. Jack Frost is always towards the top of local donut shop rankings every year and for good reason. They have great, unique flavors. Jack Frost’s donuts look like artwork. Their kitchen staff takes great care in presenting a beautiful donut. You can’t go wrong no matter what donut you choose, but we decided on salted caramel, chocolate cake, and maple bacon. How we walked out of Jack Frost with only three donuts will go down as one of life’s greatest mysteries.
Royal Donut (Parma)
The last stop. Not the least by any stretch of the imagination. There isn’t much info about Royal Donut online so I had no idea what to expect. The shop isn’t much to look at from the outside. When you walk inside you know you are in a legit donut shop. It’s hard to explain. It just has an old school donut shop vibe, complete with a set of regular customers spread across the shop, drinking coffee and reading their newspapers.
Because this was the last stop, our family was ready for this culinary adventure to end. We quickly grabbed a couple donuts and headed back home. We ended up going for the seasonal maple cream pumpkin donut and a honey bun. Both were excellent choices. Royal Donut might become a regular thing if I have my way.
Eight donut shops. That’s a lot. Because the Greater Cleveland area is home to dozens of special donut shops, I realize we may have missed your favorite shop on our adventure. Not to worry. We are already planning Part Two on the Northeast Ohio Donut Trail, including stops at places like Biagio’s Donut Shop & Pizzeria, Donutland, Circles on the Square, The Vegan Doughnut Company, Spudnuts, and more. If your family loves donuts as much as mine, it’s time to start planning your own donut adventure today!