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Roundup Of Tampa Bay's Best Doughnut Shops By Patch Readers

Sep 25, 2023

TAMPA BAY, FL — It's hard to say who invented the sweet fried circular pastry with the hole in its middle.

Hanson Gregory, an American, claimed to have invented the ring-shaped doughnut in 1847 aboard a lime-trading ship when he was 16 years old. Gregory was dissatisfied with the raw dough in the center of the deep-fried dough pastries and claimed he punched a hole in the center of dough with the ship's tin pepper box, according to the Smithsonian magazine.

One of the earliest known literary usages of the term "doughnut" comes from Washington Irving in his 1809 "History of New York." In the book, he refers to "balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog's fat and called dough-nuts, or olykoeks, a Dutch pastry.

However it originated, over the years the sweet treat has become a favorite American breakfast item, although nearly every country has its own version of the pastry such as the pampushky in Ukraine, doughrings in Scotland, the sufganiyah jelly version, in Israel, Peru's doughnut-shaped fritters made with squash and sweet potato called picarones; Costa Rica's creme-filled puntrenas; Slovenia's jam-filled krofi; Romania's filled fried dough balls called gogosi; Poland's jam-filled doughnuts call packi; and Sardinia's ring cake called lorica.

Greeks enjoy a doughnut-like spherical pastry soaked in honey syrup called loukoumas; German doughnuts are called Berliners; French and New Orleans residents prefer beignets with their morning coffee; Austria's doughnut equivalents are called krapfen; Vietnamese doughnuts are bánh tiêu and bánh cam; the popular doughnut of Thailand is the pa thong ko, or simply the Thai donut; Nepal natives make a ring-shaped rice doughnut called sel roti; Malaysia has a pastry with a hole in the middle made from smashed sweet potatoes called kuih keria; Indonesians make a ring-shaped fritter from flour and mashed potatoes coated with powered sugar and icing called a donat kentang; and India has a round doughnut with a hole in the center made from flour that is deep-friend in clarified butter and dipped in sugar syrup called balushahi.

In honor of National Doughnut Day June 2, we asked Patch readers to tell us who makes the best doughnuts in Tampa Bay.

Some readers named the perennial favorite, Krispy Kreme, while others said they're addicted to the doughnuts from the Publix grocery store's bakery.

However, many readers said they prefer the doughnuts from their locally owned neighborhood doughnut shop.

Among those nominated by readers for the best doughnuts in Tampa Bay are:

Hole In One Donuts, 39024 US 19 N, Tarpon Springs, which, by the way, spent 12 hours baking doughnuts so it could give them away to customers on National Doughnut Day.

Lakeland residents say they can't get enough of Charlie's Mini Donuts & Coffee bite-sized doughnuts at 1023 E County Road 540A, Lakeland.

"Loved the donuts Charlie's Mini Donuts & Coffee did for our daughter's second birthday party: farm animal-theme," said Manal Gallo. "We may just have to do yearly birthday donuts."

Charlie's Mini Donuts & Coffee bite-sized doughnuts at 1023 E County Road 540A, Lakeland.

However, longtime Lakeland residents say the superior doughnut maker is La Imperial Bakery at 830 E Main St, Lakeland, home of the famous Doughnut French Toast.

Earning kudos in Clearwater are Van Dough Mini Doughnuts & Coffee at 2519 McMullen Booth Road, specializing in decorated mini doughnuts for just about every holiday.

"I can't give enough stars to Van Dough," said Jennifer Barnes Riley. "I’m in love with them. Don't get me started on how sinfully delicious the tasty minis are."

Also earning high marks was D & E Donuts at 1453 S. Belcher, Clearwater, where customers raved about the sweet apple-glazed and blueberry-glazed doughnuts nuts, as well as the creatively decorated holiday iced doughnuts.

"The softest donuts and so delicious, they melt in your mouth," said Lacey J. Cardenas. "So thankful to have a place that offers gluten-free cake donuts as well as regular donuts for both my husband and I to enjoy."

Getting a thumbs up by doughnut lovers in Tampa was Nicola's Donut Shop, 902 W Busch Boulevard, which has been serving North Tampa for 41 years. Be sure to try the Rocky Road Donut and the Cookie D'Oh.

"Oh my gosh, these are hands down the best donuts we have ever had," said Kendra Snodgrass.

SOHO Donut Co. at 117 S Hyde Park Ave., Tampa, also received rave reviews for its handcrafted doughnuts in a choice of innovative flavors such as the chocolate-glazed doughnut sprinkled with pieces of Oreo cookies and then drizzled with vanilla frosting, or the The Velvet Elvis with Nutella, fresh bananas, peanut butter and bacon.

Simply Done Donuts, 2109 S Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, also received kudos for its creative combinations such as the glazed doughnut topped with peanut butter, chocolate and banana slices. For Mother's Day, Simply Done Donuts created the MOMbo, topped with cinnamon sugar, mango glaze, mango cream and fresh mint from the shop's garden.

"Really just a great little place dedicated to serving up lil’ donuts," said customer Dan Gormley.

And last but not least is the much-loved South Tampa doughnut shop, Dough, at 2602 S MacDill Ave., where customers can satisfy their cravings for lemon blueberry and lemon raspberry doughnuts, as well as Dough's more unusual creations like the Oreo Doughnut and the Samoa Doughnut.

If you have a favorite doughnut shop or own a doughnut shop that wasn't mentioned, send the information to D'Ann White at [email protected]. We love promoting small businesses.

D'Ann Lawrence White If you have a favorite doughnut shop or own a doughnut shop that wasn't mentioned, send the information to D'Ann White at [email protected]. We love promoting small businesses.