Not everyone in Tucson is a doughnut fan, but for those who are, the options are plentiful.
Do you like your doughnuts cakey or fluffy? With a hole or without? Do you prefer a simple glaze or a neon pink frosting with rainbow-colored sprinkles on top and a rich Bavarian cream waiting for you just below the surface?
In honor of National Doughnut Day, held each year on the first Friday in June, we have some spots in mind that are sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Downtown Tucson teaches us that doughnuts don’t have to just be a morning affair and milk doesn’t always have to be the drink that accompanies them.
Just ask the folks at Donut Bar Tucson, 33 N. Sixth Ave.
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The former franchise, now independent, offers 35 different flavors of doughnuts, both in a denser cake and fluffier yeast form, with a selection of wines, sake-based cocktails and craft beer options to go with them (doughnut drink standards like milk, juices and coffee are also available).
It’s open during the day Wednesdays-Sundays until 1 p.m. It reopens at 5 p.m. on weekends, keeping the lights on until 10 p.m. on Thursdays, and until midnight Fridays and Saturdays.
Husband-and-wife team Nick and Jessica Mueller opened Donut Bar in 2020 after seeing how popular the original location was in San Diego, where they live part-time.
“It was a fun concept,” Jessica Mueller said. “The doughnuts were great, but it wasn’t just about the doughnuts. It was about the experience; a place where you don’t just pick up a doughnut and leave. You can stay and have a beer, some wine.”
Mueller said now that Donut Bar is independent, they have more freedom to play with flavors. They have tried out prickly pear margarita doughnuts and horchata doughnuts. The downtown spot also has a line of savory sandwiches using doughnuts as the bread, including a Monte Cristo and a jalapeño popper grilled cheese, that go well with a pint on late nights out.
“Unless you sugar them or put the glaze on them, (the doughnuts) are a little sweet, but not so much on their own,” Jessica Mueller said. “They make the perfect crust for the grilled cheeses.”
On National Doughnut Day — Friday, June 3, Donut Bar will be giving out 100 free birthday cake doughnuts (with an additional purchase) and will be teaming up with 1912 Brewing for pairings at the shop. Doughnuts will also be available at the brewery, 2045 N. Forbes Blvd.
Donut Bar (facebook.com/donutbartucson) tries to go local with its beer selections when it can. Its taps include offerings from the likes of MotoSonora and Ten55 Brewing.
“People tend to gravitate toward the beer,” Jessica Mueller said.
Looking for something a little harder to go with your doughnuts?
Take a five-minute walk from Donut Bar to Batch at 118 E. Congress.
The whiskey bar, with more than 800 selections of whiskey available, has been serving doughnuts since it first opened in 2016. Owner Ronnie Spece’s wife, Christian Spece, makes a rotating selection that includes churro-flavored and crème brulée options. They are currently only offered on the weekends.
Spece said Batch has increased its selection of boozy doughnuts, doughnuts with whiskey infused into the frosting or glaze.
Customers are also invited to infuse the doughnuts themselves with whiskey, using pipettes.
“It is interactive,” Spece said. “We’ll use Skrewball (peanut butter whiskey) or Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple. The goal is to squeeze it into the middle of the doughnut, into the Bavarian cream. Some people will squirt the whiskey into their mouths and then eat the doughnut.”
Batch is open 4-11 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays; and 2 p.m.-midnight Fridays-Saturdays. More info: batchtucson.com.
At BoMo, a small mom-and-pop shop in a strip mall on the far southeast side of town, only two things make up the menu: boba tea and mochi doughnuts.
The boba tea, an increasingly common drink option in Tucson, comes in 12 different flavors of tea, with an additional 12 different flavors of boba and jellies to go with it. Options include mango, lychee and coconut jelly.
The mochi doughnuts are less common and a good reason to make the trip to this unassuming storefront in the Rita Ranch area.
Japanese in origin and made from rice flour, tapioca starch, milk, eggs, butter, sugar, salt and baking powder, the doughnuts resemble the teething rings your kiddos gummed on as babies. The shop’s website, thebomo.com, describes its texture as “bouncy and chewy.”
They come infused with flavors, like chocolate, strawberry, matcha and black sesame, said owner June Chu-Kreft.
“People think black sesame is something you cook in savory dishes.,” said Chu-Kreft, who is originally from Hong Kong, but has lived in the United States since 2006 and Tucson since 2018. “In China, we use black sesame to make desserts.”
Chu-Kreft opened BoMo in March in an area of town that she felt was underserved when it came to boba.
“I live 10 minutes away,” Chu-Kreft said. “I like boba tea, but I always had to drive a long way to get it. I thought I might as well open one myself.”
The boba tea easily outpaces the doughnuts in terms of sales. People are still getting to know what mochi doughnuts are all about, Chu-Kreft said.
“I always try to get them to try it,” she said. “Most people who try say they like it and come back for more.”
BoMo is located at 9040 E. Valencia Road. Its hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Fridays-Sundays.
As you and your family tear your way through Tucson’s doughnut landscape, leaving a sea of empty milk cartons and errant sprinkles in your wake, remember you may have a pup at home that also might enjoy a good doughnut.
Enter Dogs-n-Donuts, 7743 E. Broadway, Tucson’s first doughnut shop dedicated exclusively to serving man’s best friend.
Owner Christa Parsons launched the concept nearly four years ago. Parsons had been selling baked goods for humans at local farmer’s markets. After adopting a poodle mix from Pima Animal Care Center, she started making dog-friendly treats that she thought her own pup might like.
Creating sweets for her new, four-legged friend brought back memories she had when she was a teen of dog-themed bakeries her family visited in San Diego and Sedona.
“You walk in and you look at these little cakes and pastries, and they were all for dogs,” she said.
With nothing like that in Tucson, she moved forward on securing a location on the city’s east side.
Today, people from all over town make the trip to Dogs-n-Donuts to buy Parsons’ creations.
The shop’s doughnuts consist of a dough made from oats and peanut butter as a base with a yogurt glaze. Some are covered with sprinkles on top. Others are served with dried fruits and vegetables, like apples, bananas and sweet potatoes.
“They are all so colorful and fun,” Parsons said. “Dogs seem to love them.”
Doughnuts are sold individually or by the box. The shop also offers dog-friendly, customized birthday and adoption cakes, as well as doggie gelato.
“The doughnuts look great,” Parsons said. “Customers will sometimes come in and ask, ‘Can I have a bite, too?’ We tell them, ‘That is up to you.’ “
Dogs-n-Donuts is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays-Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
More info: dogsndonutstucson.com
Each and every day, Le Cave’s owner Charlie Salgado and his crew listen to memories.
“We hear stories all the time of people going to Le Cave’s when they were growing up,” Salgado said. “They would get their birthday cakes from us, graduation cakes.”
A Tucson staple on South Sixth Avenue since 1935, the bakery found a new home on East 22nd Street in 2018, and new owners, Chris and Naomi Pershing, who have since sold the business to their brother-in-law Salgado.
Salgado said the bakery still follows the same recipes as the old location, but is in a better spot, a former Jack in the Box, at 3950 E. 22nd St. The old building at 1219 S. Sixth Avenue had fallen into disrepair in the years leading up to the sale. It has since been resurrected, brought up to code and is currently home to Mendez Bakery.
“This location had better conditions, better infrastructure, a drive-thru,” Salgado said of Le Cave’s current digs.
The doughnuts at Le Cave’s are popular sellers, right up there with the bakery’s empanadas, Salgado said.
Some of its doughnut flavors include glazed, chocolate-frosted and maple-frosted. Fillings range from raspberry to mango to cinnamon apple.
Salgado said pulling out of the pandemic has been a challenge, with supply and staffing shortages, but they are hanging in there and keeping busy.
He attributes that in part to the bakery’s location on bustling East 22nd.
“We are a lot more visible,” he said. “It is a busy thoroughfare.”
Le Cave’s is open 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays and 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Visit lecaves.com for more information.
When it comes to variety, Amy’s Donuts, at 101 E. Fort Lowell Road, sits firmly at the tippy-top of the doughnut pile.
The standalone shop offers a colorful array of 75 different types of doughnuts each day, according to general manager Meyunka Perrin, including a doughnut made to look like Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster and a doughnut resembling the bright pink-frosted doughnuts with sprinkles enjoyed by animated dad Homer Simpson.
Perrin said their maple bacon, cookies and cream, apple glazed, and cheesecake doughnuts are some of their most popular options.
Amy’s, which has a handful of locations in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Ohio, is open from 5 a.m. to midnight daily. Visit amysdonuts.com/tucson for more info.