Better than Shipley's: Classic Donuts

Long ago, I accepted Shipley's dominance of Houston as a case of always had, always will. The warm glazed donuts at the Ella Shipley's are indeed superb, but I avoid other locations.

I was thrilled when Krispy Kreme entered the market, with their ethereally light donuts, but after a few dozen I realized the hot and fresh glazed are too ethereal--they quickly disperse in the mouth, as if Chef Ferran Adria had created a foam for the "El Bulli Donut Shop."

So it was a delight to discover Classic Donuts, 8409 Hillcroft, on the southeast corner of Beechnut and Hillcroft. The donuts here are less dense than Shipley's, and more substantial than Krispy Kreme's. Better yet, they have the minimal sweetness that is required to be a doughnut.

The simple glazed are satisfying enough, but I decided to go for my holy grail of donuts, the Bavarian Cream. Most versions have uninspiring industrial custard that seems to be made for ease of use than taste, but Classic Donuts' filling tastes like a tangy and freshly made. Score! If I was restricted to only one donut for life, this would be it.

Classic Donuts has a wide variety of donuts, twists, rolls, and muffins. I normally don't care for cake donuts, but the maple-glazed cake cruller changed my opinion.

The kolaches have actual bread, rather than the underbaked dough that can be found at many kolache shops. If you want more breakfast, there's tacos, pupusas, flautas, and sopes. The fastidiously clean shop is bustling every morning, but the service is fast and friendly. There's a small area for dining, but most of the trade is to-go.

The final test for any donut is caramelization, in which I put a leftover donut under the broiler for a minute. The kid likes them that way better than fresh. The Classic Donuts didn't fare as well as the denser Shipley's, but then I realized that it was a pointless test. I will never have any leftover Classics.

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John Kiely
Contact: John Kiely