Union Square Donuts

Boston and Dunkin’ Donuts may be forever intertwined, but for true fried dough inspiration, leave the corner Dunkies behind. These small shops may not be household names, but their donut-making powers are second to none.

Closet-sized Blackbird Donuts, ironically stationed between a series of fitness centers on Tremont Street, is brought to you by the freewheeling culinary team behind The Gallows and Banyan Bar + Refuge. A madcap influence is evident in some of the more curious flavors in the shop’s rotating selection, such as Everything Bagel and Funfetti. Two styles of donuts are offered—raised and cake—as well as monkey bread and soft-serve ice cream. Interior windows provide a full view of the bakery for some excellent donut theater.

Union Square Donuts began as a popular vendor at local farmers’ markets, and now has a small artisanal donut empire, with locations in Somerville and Brookline plus a permanent stall at the Boston Public Market. Substantially sized yet somehow airy and fluffy, donuts come in a core roster of flavors that include Maple Bacon, Brown Butter Hazelnut Crunch, and Sea-Salted Bourbon Caramel. Seasonal flavors like Vietnamese Coffee and Orange Creamsicle make the rounds, and one or two vegan varieties are always on offer. USD also sells donut holes and “doughies,” slightly bigger donut holes, for those of us who can never choose only one flavor.

Brookline’s Clear Flour Bread bakery may have built its reputation on homemade bread, but the class-act joint also makes a single style of donut each day: black currant, a fitting match for Clear Flour’s rustic ethos. It’s a light, fluffy baked version, filled with dried currant and sweetened with a little sugar. If you want a fresh version of this decidedly lighter treat, drop by around 8:30 or 9 a.m.—it usually sells out by 1 p.m.

Linda's Donuts

Belmont-based Linda’s Donuts is a living throwback to a pre-Instagram era when donut shops served as unassuming neighborhood hangouts. Linda’s has been in business for more than 25 years, and it looks like the inside hasn’t changed since the first Bush administration. What else hasn’t changed? The appeal of its donuts, which continue to satisfy regulars in classic executions like jelly, honey dipped, and Boston cream pie. Those with greater appetites can stick around for a bacon, egg and cheese bagel, coffee, and some local gossip.

A hipster newcomer this is not: Kane’s has been selling oversized, flavor-packed donuts out of its original Saugus location since 1955. The legendary shop entered Boston proper in 2015 with a small Financial District location, where our favorite old-school offerings (Honey Dip, Raspberry Jelly) sit side-by-side with stacked behemoths like The Turtle, a chocolate cake donut festooned with dark chocolate, Heath Bar crumbles, caramel frosting, and a honey glaze.

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