Phaedra Cook is eating her way through Houston and counting down her 100 favorite dishes of 2015. It's a collection of personal favorites that is also indicative of Houston dining. It's a scene where a vast range of dishes coexist: highbrow and lowbrow; local and international; cheap and expensive; modern cuisine and beloved tenets — and everything in between.
Lawrence Shipley, Sr. started selling his doughnuts wholesale in 1936. In the 1940s, they were so popular that he started selling them directly to the public in what is now known as The Heights at “White Oak and 6th Street.” That’s a curious description, as those two streets no longer intersect. (There's a discussion at this web site of that mysterious intersection description.) It's still a family-owned business. Shipley's grandson, Lawrence Shipley III, runs it these days.
It's a much bigger company now, though. There are more than 300 Shipley Do-Nut shops today and the company has expanded into other states; Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. There's a goal to have 400 stores by the year 2020.
Perhaps the humble glazed doughnut is the cornerstone of Shipley's success. A warm one alongside a cup of hot coffee is still a fleeting moment to be captured. No filling, flavored frosting or sprinkles could possibly enhance that seductive, yielding, melt-in-your-mouth experience any further.
They’re only about half as good cold, but still better than most other doughnuts even then. There are several Shipleys around town, but after the morning rush, it’s a bit of a trick to find the locations that are still serving them warm throughout the day. I have had good luck—even in the evenings—at the location at 401 Richmond. It’s open from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.
I haven’t verified it still operates the same way, but back when Robb Walsh did his 100 Favorite Dishes list, people swore by the one at 3410 Ella. Their hours are from 3 a.m. to noon.
Others say that 3932 North Main, which runs from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., is the place to go. It’s also reputedly the oldest location still in operation in Houston.
Where’s your favorite Shipley Do-Nut shop?
The List of Top 100 Dishes of 2015 So Far:
No. 93, Housemade Bologney at Public Services Wine & Whisky
No. 94, Bo Luc Lac at Cheno's (formerly Chino's) Fast Food
No. 95, Combo #5 at Soto's Cantina
No. 96, Carnitas Salad At Chipotle
No. 97, Pickled Shrimp At Punk's Simple Southern Food
No. 98, Lobster Roll At Maine-Ly Sandwiches
No. 99, Chili-Cheese Coneys At JCI Grill
No. 100, Corned Beef Hash And Eggs At House Of Pies