Let me admit right at the outset Im not that much of a donut person. A good donut every now and then is fine but I doubt that I average more than one or two per year. Until the last few months that is.
I am probably one of the last people in Chicago to try Krispy Kreme. Several months ago I finally stopped by their shop in Summit. I didnt realize you got to watch the donuts being made; I have always loved that sort of thing and I spent an embarrassingly long time standing at the window watching the donuts go by. I ordered one of the hot glazed ones and one blueberry filled. I thought the glazed one was pretty good, with a surprisingly light texture but way too much sweet glaze for my taste. The other one was really nothing special, filled with some very artificial tasting blueberry glop. I guess I understand why so many people are crazy about this place but its not somewhere I dream about visiting.
Dat Donut, at 83rd and Cottage Grove, is in the same building as one of the Leons BBQs. As you walk in theres a large window allowing you to watch the donuts being made. Unlike KK there is an actual human making them. I watched as the baker rolled out a huge mound of dough with a thin wooden pin then using his right hand quickly stamped out the donuts with a metal form. Almost faster than you could see he stacked the donut rings on his left fingers then piled them up to the side. He was making the long braided ones which involved making a sort of slip knot using two rings, again almost faster than you could see. These were placed on metal grids for their final rising. An excellent show.
They have about 15 varieties, based on several distinct doughs. Theres a cake donut with an almost crisp crust and a crumbly inside. The standard glazed has a light texture, though with far more substance and flavor than KKs, and a tender crust. They have plenty of glaze but arent as cloying as KKs version. Apple fritters have a texture somewhere in between. Chocolate donuts are very sweet but without much chocolate flavor. They also make a great-sounding buttermilk donut which I have yet to try. Also blueberry, jelly-filled, lemon-filled, cinnamon, coconut, a variety of frosteds, and others. From what Ive tasted, the simple ones (glazed, cake) are some of the best. These are the first donuts Ive had in quite a while that I can get excited about.
Donuts are served via a bulletproof turntable which should make fans of Harolds feel right at home. Dat Donut is open 24/6, closed Sunday. Id strongly encourage donut fans to give Dat a try.
8249 S Cottage Grove Av
closed only from 9pm Saturday to 9pm Sunday