Blackbird Donuts hatched with a closet-sized space on Tremont Street (ironically, situated between a series of fitness centers) and now has locations in Fenway, West Newton, and elsewhere around Boston. Founded by the folks behind South End spots The Gallows and Banyan Bar + Refuge, a madcap influence is evident in some of the more curious flavors in Blackbird’s rotating selection, such as Everything Bagel and Chocolate Chip Cookie. Raised and cake donuts are offered, as well as donut ice cream sandwiches. The original shop now shares space with Sally’s Sandwiches—and you can bet Blackbird Doughnuts are one of the breakfast sandwich bread choices.
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Boston and Dunkin’ may be forever intertwined (even if Dunkies drops the "donuts"), but for true fried dough inspiration, run to one of these small shops. They may not have SNL sketches made about them, but their donut-making powers are second to none.
Union Square Donuts began as a popular vendor at local farmers’ markets, and now has a small artisan donut empire with locations in Somerville, Brookline, and at The Boston Public Market. (Time Out Market, too, though that food hall is currently in hibernation). Substantially sized yet somehow airy and fluffy, Union Square 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 rotating other brioche baked goods, like cinnamon rolls.
Brookline’s Clear Flour Bread bakery may have built its reputation on European-style breads, 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.
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 decades and run by the same family for nearly 40 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. 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. (A newer Saugus location boasts a retro drive-thru just off of Route 1.) 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. Gluten and dairy intolerant donut lovers are taken care of by Kane’s, too, with plenty of fun yet allergy-friendly flavors.
Brassica Kitchen + Cafe
Much like the eclectic neighborhood of Jamaica Plain where Brassica Kitchen + Cafe resides, this place has something from everyone from morning ‘til night. Fresh donuts are on display every day it’s open, in rotating flavors like Vanilla Sprinkle, Pretzel, and crispy-ridged Churronuts. Pair them with a steaming cup of locally roasted Fazenda Coffee or a refreshing mocktail like Spirulina Lemonade, crafted in-house by the flavor-driven hippies behind this destination-worthy neighborhood spot.