In Chicago: Donuts worth the wait

I never thought I’d wait an hour for a donut.

But there I was early Saturday, standing in line outside The Doughnut Vault in Chicago, eager to get my hands on one of the freshly made pastries I’ve heard so much about. Tucked into a corner building at Franklin and Kinzie streets – in the River North neighborhood – The Doughtnut Vault has gotten attention from the likes of The Splendid Table on American Public Media and last month was included among America’s 50 Best Donuts by Saveur magazine.

There’s good reason. Freshly made every morning, The Doughnut Vault’s oversized creations come in a variety of ever-changing and seasonal flavors. The week I visited birthday cake, dreamsicle, and pistachio were among the selections. Saturday’s menu included glazed chestnut, vanilla, and chocolate, buttermilk old-fashioned and strawberry jelly-filled donuts. When the morning’s inventory is sold out, The Doughtnut Vault closes shop — and that usually happens well before noon.

Calling this place ”a vault” is no exaggeration. The shop is literally no bigger than an old bank vault. Fewer than a dozen customers can squeeze inside at a time and must stand single file to get their orders. Just one employee mans the small counter, pulling fresh donuts from a rack, rapidly filling orders and ringing sales. You won’t find a display a la Dunkin’ Donuts here.

I left with a glazed strawberry jelly-filled donut – nearly the size of my hand — a breakfast in itself. Was it worth the wait (not to mention the long walk from the hotel)? Yes. My only regret is that I didn’t leave with a dozen donuts

Greg Tasker
Greg Tasker is Detroit News Arts and Entertainment Editor and has been writing about travel for more than a decade. His travel stories have appeared in AAA Living, Frommer's Budget Travel, Scouting, AMC Outdoors, Vermont Life and Island Life.