Rebel Donut – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Rebel Donut on Wyoming Just North of Menaul

Many years ago if someone proposed a wager of “dollars to donuts,” you might have been well advised to take it.  The phrase “dollars to donuts” essentially meant the person proposing the wager thought he or she had  a sure thing, that he or she was willing to to risk a dollar to win a dollar’s worth of donuts.  Donuts weren’t worth much at the time (and they weren’t very good either) so winning a bet might result in being paid off by a baker’s dozen or so donuts.  Today, if someone offers a “dollars to donuts” wager, the counter to a five dollar bet might be two donuts and the donuts would likely be terrific.  

Visit a donut shop today and sticker shock might set in.  Donuts aren’t cheap anymore, not that it stops Americans from spending our dollars for donuts to the tune of about $3.6 billion dollars per year.  Americans consume some ten billion donuts a year. That’s 33 donuts per man, woman and child per year.  The demographic which loves donuts most is middle-income men ages 25 to 49 (now you know what accounts for the “middle-age spread”).

Donut deliciousness in a glass case

As with burgers, donuts are one of those rare foods which have proven to be recession proof.  Despite the  economic malaise of the past few years, the number of donut shops, amount of donuts consumed and profitability per donut shop has continued to increase every year (save for a short lapse when the nutrition police made donuts non grata).  The reason most attributed is that donuts are a tasty and inexpensive comfort food.  Similar to the gourmet burger craze which has taken America by storm, consumers don’t mind splurging on donuts that are more costly.

The June 11th, 2012 launch of Rebel Donut (singular) will certainly give consumers an opportunity to splurge. Rebel makes two types of donuts: raised donuts made from yeast-based dough, and cake donuts made from cake batter.  Rebel makes two types of donuts. Raised donuts – made from yeast-based dough, and cake donuts – made from cake batter. Since they are made from rolled dough, and hand-cut, raised donuts can be formed into almost any shape. Proofing the donuts before they get fried gives them a fluffy, airy texture. Cake donuts are sweeter and denser than raised donuts. They are a little crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. They are always going to be round, but they can still be filled and decorated in a million ways.

Nutella-Chocolate, 3X chocolate, Powdered Sugar Vanilla , Old-Fashioned Coconut

As might be expected for a donut shop bearing the appellation “Rebel,” Rebel Donut is expanding the boundaries of donut conventionality.  Even the shop’s logo, a donut with wings, bespeaks of nonconformity, risk-taking, daring to be different.  Rebel Donut is taking donuts to the extreme, helping them be all they can be…self-actualizing donuts.  Unique flavors include red velvet, chocolate salted pretzel, chocolate mint, peanut butter and apple, peanut butter and Sriracha, carrot cake, watermelon and blueberry pancake and those are tame compared to other donuts on the ever-changing menu.  

You’d expect no less than imagination and inventiveness from Rebel Donut owners Carrie Mettling and Tina Winn.  Carrie was the founder and creative force behind Cupcake Fetish which she opened in March, 2006 and which began a bit of a cupcake boom in the Duke City.  The Rebel owners have hired a like-minded staff and given them the latitude to be visionary.  Then, as if the Rebel team wasn’t already taking donut innovation to new heights, they gave Facebook followers an opportunity to suggest new donut ideas.  The ideas were so clever that many, if not all, will be implemented.    That’s donuts by the people, for the people and by the people.

Top: Mocha Chocolate, 3X Chocolate Muffin, Key Line Pie
Bottom: Dreamsicle, Apple peanut butter, Smores

Striving to be Albuquerque’s premier artisan donut and pastry shop, Rebel Donut showcases more than thirty donut flavors per day with new and different surprises every day.  One unexpected surprise for us is the presence of kolaches (Czech and Slovak pastries with a dollop of fruit inside), but not exactly the type of which we experienced in Chicago.  Purists will argue that Rebel Donut’s line-up kolaches (sausage and cheese; sausage, jalapeño and cheese; and veggie sausage, green chile and cheese) are not kolaches, but Klobasnek.  Call them what you will, but you will call them delicious.

If you have any inkling that these donuts sound like so much fluff and style, one bite will assure you’re there’s plenty of substance beyond the round hole in the middle.  These donuts taste like very good renditions of their named ingredients.  The Dreamsicle donut tastes like a sweet and tangy orange.  The mocha chocolate tastes like a creamy, chocolatey coffee.  Then there’s the donuts in which seemingly disparate ingredients (peanut butter and Sriracha, for example) are combined.  These, too, as if by some feat of enchantment, are at the very least interesting, but more often than not, quite good.

Maple Bacon

If your idea of a radical donut is chocolate with sprinkles, Rebel Donut will rock your world.  Who but a Rebel would create a donut topped with candy resembling blue sky meth, the vice of choice on Breaking Bad, a popular television drama filmed in Albuquerque?  Who but a Rebel would launch a second shop at a seemingly cursed location on Albuquerque’s west side, a location which has seen a number of restaurants and even another donut shop?  Who but a Rebel would open a satellite shop in Albuquerque’s fledgling downtown area? 

In 2013, Rebel Donut was  selected to compete on a new Food Network show called “Donut Showdown” which premiered April 2nd on the Food Network in Canada.  The show made its United States debut on Wednesday, July 3rd on the Cooking Channel.  Carrie competed with two other donut-makers for a $10,000 prize.  The theme of the show was “Carnival.”  Although the Duke City’s dominant donut presence was victorious in 2013, it finished as runner-up during the 2014 showdown.

The Rebel Donut location on Albuquerque's west side (9311 Coors Blvd NW)

The Rebel Donut location on Albuquerque’s west side

NOTEIn the following paragraphs, Gil’s Thrilling… recaps the national attention garnered by Rebel Donut.

To get all existential about it – how do I know the perfect donut for me is the perfect donut for you? The truth is there really is no Perfect Donut because we all love different things. So at Rebel Donut, we are all about options.” How’s that for an appealing mission statement or operating philosophy, not that Rebel Donut’s Web site calls it that. With that level of commitment to variety and people pleasing, is it any wonder Albuquerque’s Rebel Donut was named in January, 2018, “The Best Donut Shop in New Mexico” by Delish. Like Rebel Donut, Delish believes “there’s no wrong way to eat a donut.” To compile its list of each state’s best donuts, Delish consulted Yelp, increasingly the most reliable crowd-source on culinary matters.

The Daily Meal describes donuts as “extremely versatile” and “essentially a blank canvas.” As to prove the versatility of the donut, in November, 2016 the online site compiled a list of America’s Most Outrageous Doughnuts and Where to Find Them. You probably didn’t have to give it a second thought to know Albuquerque’s Rebel Donut would make the list. Breaking Bad fans recall Rebel Donut’s “Blue Sky” doughnut which was topped with something resembling blue meth. That’s not even their most outrageous donut. That honor, according to The Daily Meal, would be reserved for the Dough Boy doughnut which “is studded with chocolate chips, drizzled with ample chocolate sauce, and topped with a hefty scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough.”

The best kind of six pack

Perhaps the most eloquent and certainly the most aptly descriptive quote ever uttered about donuts came from everyman philosopher Homer Simpson who once said “Mmmmmm…doughnuts.” What more needs to be said? Maybe “better than cupcakes, as classic as apple pie.” That’s what BuzzFeed said in October, 2016 when introducing a feature listing the best donut shop in every state according to Yelp. Using an algorithm that looked at the number of reviews plus the star rating for every doughnut business listed on Yelp, the best donut in New Mexico was determined to come from Rebel Donut in Albuquerque. That comes as no surprise to Duke City donut aficionados who have been flocking to the premier artisan donut and pastry shop in the Land of Enchantment.

Although the Cooking Channel doesn’t grace my cable subscription package, I find comfort in knowing Founding Friends of Gil (FOG) member Jim Millington was able to watch the channel’s “Cheap Eats” show in April, 2016 when it featured host Ali Khan visiting beautiful, sunny Albuquerque. Jim reports that “the show is pretty much like Rachael Ray’s old Twenty Dollar a Day show except that Ali lacks Rachael’s cuteness and he has $35. His first stop was at the Tia B’s La Waffleria for vegan waffles which he found to be wonderful. Next stop was the Route 66 Pit Stop for the famous green chile cheeseburger which knocked his socks off. Third was Rebel Donuts. He didn’t even get a donut shaped one. It was long, stuffed and topped with bacon. Papa Felipe’s introduced him to the amazement of carne adovada stuffed in a sopaipilla.” Thank you, Jim.

Rebel Donut gained tremendous notoriety for creating a donut mimicking the potent crystal blue meth made famous by AMC’s Breaking Bad series. In March, 2016, Rebel Donut was honored on Food Network Magazine as one of a dozen “best in dough,” an honor bestowed upon fun donuts. The honoree is Rebel Donut’s pina colada donut, a vanilla cake donut dipped in coconut rum glaze then raw coconut with buttercream frosting. Unlike the Breaking Bad donut which has no actual blue meth, there is actual real rum in the pina colada donut. It’s one in a small line of adult donuts though it can be made “virgin” as well. 

Albuquerque is one of the four original cities to syndicate the Jim Rome Show, a sports talk mainstay on 610 AM for nearly two decades. With a unique lexicon and format, the show now boasts of some 200 radio stations across the United States and Canada. Listeners are fiercely loyal to the show, reveling in a  format which encourages them to be critical of other cities on the syndicate as well as other listeners, including “laying the smack down” on “Albucracky” and its tumbleweed motif. During Rome’s most recent visit in November, 2016, he and his road crew discovered the “blue meth” donuts from Albuquerque’s Rebel Donut. The donuts were much more than a punchline to the jocular crew, all of whom enjoyed every morsel.

Foursquare, an online presence which purports to help readers “find the best places to eat, drink, shop, or visit in any city in the world,” took on the enviable challenge in October, 2015 of determining the best bakery in each state. Because man and woman cannot live on bread alone, the list included a number of more specialized bakeries such as Albuquerque’s Rebel Donut. Foursquare noted: “From maple bacon to cherry lemonade to chicken and waffle donuts, Albuquerque’s Rebel Donut certainly breaks the mold when it comes to breakfast confections. The shop also gained fame for its signature Breaking Bad-themed “Blue Sky” variety, which was endorsed by the show’s stars themselves.”  

While trying to get to Las Vegas, Nevada in 1945, Bugs Bunny accidentally wound up in Germany where for the first time he utters the recurring line “I should have made that left turn at Albuquerque.” Realtors across the fruited plain have come to the realization that many people aren’t making any turns when they arrive in the Duke City. They’re here to stay. For them, the blog, the lighter side of real estate, provided in June, 2015, “29 things you need to know about Albuquerque before you move there” Among the sagacious tips: Green Chile: Love it or Leave Town; Great Community Food at the Grove Cafe; You may not Know the Mufin Man, but Everyone Knows the Candy Lady; The Perfect Ron Swansonable Steak (from Farm & Table at “rustic Old Town”); All Other Bread Will Pale in Comparison (from the Golden Crown Panaderia); These Donuts, Oh Man, These Donuts (from Rebel Donut); and Your BBQ Search is Over at Mr. Powdrell’s BBQ House.

Apple Corporation recognizes the value of rebels: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”  Rebel Donuts is changing Albuquerque one donut at a time.

Rebel Donut
2435 Wyoming Blvd, N.E. 
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 293-0553
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 18 February 2018
1st VISIT: 28 July 2012
BEST BET: Maple Bacon, 3X Chocolate, 3X Chocolate Muffin, Key Lime Pie, Mocha Chocolate, Old Fashioned Coconut, Nutella Chocolate

Rebel Donut Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bristol Doughnut Co. – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Bristol Doughnut Company in the Sawmill District

While most people speak with fond nostalgia about their first ride on a double-decker bus, the memories of our inaugural trip are tinged with horror that traumatizes us to this day. As with most visitors making their first excursion to London, we wanted to take in all the sights with the best vantage point you can have. That meant sitting on the top deck of a double-decker. These bi-level behemoths ride higher than almost everything else on the road save for those noisy articulated lorries ( what we Yanks call semi-trailer trucks). Despite the congestion that typifies London’s streets, double-deckers provide spectacular, mostly unobstructed views of the city.

Though we arrived early to ensure we got seats on the coveted top deck, a couple dozen early birds got there earlier. As we climbed the stairs to our lofty perch, the portly fellow in front of us “let ‘er rip,” emitting the most noxious effluvia imaginable. Our eyes began to water as we coughed and sputtered at the malodorous “silent but deadly” emanation. Surely this odoriferous rank was equal to or more potent than the sulfuric gates of Hell. Congestion at the top slowed our ascent and heightened our suffering. Then, to our horror and dismay, the only available seats were behind the mephitic miscreant who continued his “assault from the rear.” As if to prolong our distress, an accident snarled traffic. When we finally disembarked—at the very first stop—we thanked God for our delivery from our putrid purgatory.


When I excitedly told my Kim about Bristol Doughnut Co., a new donut shop in the Duke City which proffers “probably the best donuts in Albuquerque” (according to ever reliable Howie “The Duke of Duke City” Kaibel, the charismatic Albuquerque Community Manager for Yelp), she reminded me of the torment we suffered in London. It then dawned on me that the double-decker on which our torturous ordeal (death might have been preferable) occurred sported the Bristol name. Surely we thought, Bristol the double-decker manufacturer has absolutely no relation to Bristol the purveyor of peerless donuts.  We were half right.

When we asked “why the name Bristol,” we were told that a bona fide Bristol Double-Decker bus is being readied for selling donuts.  Can there be a better idea than donuts coming to the masses instead of the masses having to go to the donuts?  For now, when you attempt to go to the (Bristol) donuts, you may have trouble finding them.  Though the Bristol Doughnut Co. has a physical address, there is no exterior signage anywhere to let you know you’ve arrived at your destination.  Bristol is ensconced within The Spur Line Supply Company just past Mama’s Minerals in the burgeoning Sawmill District.  It’s in the southeast corner of a large complex resembling a warehouse.

Two Cinnamon Rolls, One Egg Nog Donut, One Maple Bacon Donut and Two Bristol Salted Butter Donuts

In addition to its unique location, the Bristol Doughnut Co. displays its featured fare in a very distinct manner.  Donuts are displayed behind what was once the back window of a vintage automobile which has since been cut in half.  It’s akin to a super-sized sneeze guard.  A limited number of donuts are available on any given day, not always the same kind.  We ordered four of the six kinds available on the date of our inaugural visit and absolutely loved every single one of them.  Bristol donuts are certainly among the very best of breed. 

My Kim tends to judge the worthiness of a donut shop by the quality of its cinnamon rolls.  As with almost all cinnamon rolls, she contends Bristol’s could have used a bit more cinnamon, but considering the general deliciousness of these dense, doughy spirals, it’s a nit.  A light sugary glaze practically begs for the sheen of melted butter, a sweet and savory complement she enjoys.  Maple bacon donuts have become as common as fake news, but Bristol’s version is better than any we’ve previously enjoyed.  The complementary flavors of sweet maple and salty bacon are in perfect proportion to one another.  Perhaps that’s because the bacon is in bits not strips.  Of seasonal significance is an egg nog donut which might just have you pining for its liquid counterpart.  Then there’s the salted butter donuts which stand out because the light glaze allows you to easily discern and thoroughly enjoy the salted butter.  They go together very well.

Now, if you’re thinking you’ll get up early tomorrow to grab donuts on your way to work, you can sleep in.  Bristol’s hours of operation start at 10AM Monday through Saturday and at 11AM on Sunday.  The good news is that you’ll be able to pick donuts up on your way home because Bristol is open until 6PM Monday through Saturday and 4PM on Sunday.  Donuts…no longer just for breakfast…and so good, we’d risk another trip on a double-decker bus.

Bristol Doughnut Co.
800 20th Street, N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 596-0312
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 3 December 2017
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: Cinnamon Rolls, Egg Nog Donut, Maple Bacon Donut, Bristol Salted Butter Donut

Bristol Doughnut Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Duke City Donuts – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

The new (as of May, 2012) Scottsdale Shopping Center home of Duke City Donuts

If you love donuts (and who doesn’t), you might want to consider being just a bit more generous when you see the ubiquitous Salvation Army bell-ringers and their familiar kettles standing in the chilly winter air to solicit donations.  The Salvation Army didn’t invent the first donut, but you can certainly credit much of their popularity to this philanthropic group. During World War I, the “lassies” in the Salvation Army prepared donuts for thousands of soldiers, an act which along with their compassion endeared the group to the American public.  It also stimulated a taste for donuts which hadn’t existed before the war among the American public.

In 1938, the first Friday in June was established as “Salvation Army Donut Day” in Chicago, not only to honor the Salvation Army but to help raise much-needed operating funds for the group.  It was also set aside as a tribute to the Salvation Army lassies who made and served the donuts during World War I.  Although the spelling has been shortened from “doughnut” to “donut” over the years, by any spelling the donut has been the Salvation Army’s trademark since World War I.

Donuts under glass at Enchantment Chocolates

Donuts under glass at Duke City Donuts

In recent years, donuts and their high-carb brethren have been vilified and all but banned by the “nutritionally correct” who believe America should supplant these deliciously decadent orbs with beet juice, tofu, carrots and celery sticks.  Coupled with the advent of the carb unfriendly Adkins Diet, donuts went through a period in which they were as popular as terrorist extremists at a New York City fire department party.  Even the sanctified Krispy Kreme saw stock prices plummet.

Albuquerque has in recent years seen the demise, departure or diminished numbers of Krispy Kreme, Shipley’s Donuts, Winchell’s Donuts and even most of the city’s Dunkin’ Donuts. Whether it was an onslaught of health-crazed fanatics, reduced ranks in the police force or a combination of other factors, the Duke City can hardly be called the Donut City.  Perhaps the one donut restaurant which did more to resurrect the popularity of donuts in the Duke City is the aptly named Duke City Donuts.

Maple Glazed Donut with Bacon, Dark Chocolate Cashew Bark, Milk Chocolate Oreo

Duke City Donuts is located in the far northeast heights Scottsdale Shopping Village (on the northwest corner of Eubank and Candelaria).  Turn into the Village and the very first business you will see is Duke City Donuts which moved to its new location in May, 2012, very shortly after being honored by Albuquerque The Magazine.  In its annual Food & Wine issue for 2012, Albuquerque The Magazine awarded Duke City Donuts a Hot Plate Award signifying the selection of its maple bacon donut as one of the “most interesting, special and tasty dishes around.”  Considering the thousands of potential selections, to be singled out is quite an honor.

Duke City Donuts is not a pretty new face to the Scottsdale Village Shopping Center, but a change in ownership in 2007 precipitated a change in direction and vision for the store.  One of those changes was diversification from chocolates which meant the inclusion of delectable and delightful donuts, the type of which might make Homer Simpson swoon.  That change of direction and vision was reenforced in 2011 when the store changed its name from Enchantment Chocolates to Duke City Donuts.

Top: Two Glazed Donuts, Strawberry Glazed Donut, Pumpkin Glazed Donut, Spicy Pumpkin, Pumpkin Cake

The menu is replete with raised donuts and cake donuts with flavors of the week for every day of the week.  On Monday, it’s blueberry; on Tuesday, it’s cherry; on Wednesday, it’s lemon and on Thursday, it’s strawberry.  Friday’s flavor of the day is chocolate while orange is the flavor of the day on Saturdays.  A seasonal favorite is pumpkin donuts which are made in a variety of ways.

Flavor of the day doesn’t mean solely one donut featuring that flavor.  On the Saturday of my inaugural visit, orange, the flavor of the day was featured in a chocolate donut, an orange cake donut and an orange raised donut.  Flavor of the day also doesn’t mean obviously artificial flavoring that barely approximates the select flavor.  The orange donuts have a pronounced citrus flavor, a sweet tanginess reminiscent of the sun-kissed orange in its peak of flavor.

Colorful and delicious assortment of donuts

Colorful and delicious assortment of donuts

Donuts are topped with a variety of decadent frostings including a maple frosted donut which would make any Canadian proud.  The maple actually tastes like maple, not like white icing tinged brown.  It’s a novel concept other proprietors of donuts should follow.  More of them should also top maple donuts with a single piece of crispy fried bacon.  It’s an interesting and delicious example of flavor contrasts where sweet and salty play against one another.

True to its former name, Duke City Donuts features a menagerie of sweet treats the nutrition police are sure to disdain.  Aside from homemade chocolates, the store showcases a variety of fudge and other homemade candy.  It also sells a nice selection of popcorn in flavors other than the de rigueur standards.  The popcorn is colorful and delicious and is available in such flavors as blueberry and chocolate.  You also don’t have to wait for the State Fair if you crave cotton candy.  Duke City Donuts has that, too.

Five of the very best donuts in New Mexico

16 March 2013: October may be National Doughnut Month, but the magazine Everyday with Rachael Ray celebrated a “hole lotta love!” in March with a pictorial of some of America’s most “fancified and accessorized” donuts.  Included in the almost good enough to eat photo shoot was a Samoa donut (toasted coconut, caramel and chocolate) from Duke City Donuts. The Samosa is much better than its photograph because you can indulge in its decadent deliciousness.

Every time we visit Duke City Donuts, we find a new favorite–or at least something new and interesting.  In the latter category is a Lucky Charms cereal donut painted green in honor of the Emerald Isle.  It’s too sweet for me, but perfect for my Kim who’s much sweeter.  It wouldn’t be New Mexico if donuts didn’t incorporate our official state vegetable (no, not the pinto bean; the other one–chile).  The chocolate-bacon-red chile-bacon donut packs a back of the throat punch.  It’s the type of donut you’d want a glass of milk with.  Similar to New Mexican restaurants, Duke City Donuts can actually ask the official state question–“red or green” because one of its donuts combines apples and green chile.  This one not only has a nice piquancy, it has a freshly roasted flavor, too.

Top: Lucky Charms Donut; Red Chile-Chocolate-Bacon Donut  Bottom: Samosa Donut, Green Chile Apple

Top: Lucky Charms Donut; Red Chile-Chocolate-Bacon Donut Bottom: Samosa Donut, Green Chile Apple

Duke City Donuts, where you can celebrate Donut Day everyday may offer the very best donuts in Albuquerque–donuts so good, owner J.D. Dame changed its name to reflect the popularity of the peoples’ choice product.    Provided that same enchantment continues to permeate that glorious fried dough, he could call the restaurant anything he wants and donut lovers will beat a path to his door.

Duke City Donuts
3107 Eubank Blvd, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
1st VISIT: 18 July 2009
LATEST VISIT: 28 July 2013
BEST BET: Chocolate Orange Donut, Orange Donut, Glazed Donut, Maple Frosted Donut, Maple-Bacon Donut, Coffee Toffee Donut, Pumpkin Cake Donut, Spicy Pumpkin Donut, Glazed Pumpkin Donut

Duke City Donuts on Urbanspoon

Whoo’s Donuts – Santa Fe, New Mexico


When my corporate group had its employees, a high-performing contingent of information technology professionals, take a strengths assessment, the results were contrary to the stereotypes often painted about techno-geeks. None of us, for example, were profiled as Megadeath tee-shirt-wearing introverts who live in our mother’s basement and play World of Warcraft online against disembodied “friends.” Most of us were correctly pegged as being high achievers with healthy interpersonal skills and altruistic inclinations.

The employee who defied the IT stereotype most was my friend and fellow Peñasquero Antonette whom the assessment categorized as a “Woo” for her naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling or behavior. Even though Antonette was a cheerleader in high school, Woo in this case, is not a cheer or an onomatopoeia of excitement. Woo is an acronym for “winning others over.” In the world of a Woo, there are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met–lots of them. Woos relish the challenge of meeting new people and derive satisfaction from making personal connections.

Twin display cases of donut deliciousness

Woo fits Antonette to a tee, but it’s admittedly not a characterization one would ascribe to me, a pretty plebeian guy. To me, woo (or woot as my friend Andrea Lin has been known to say) remains an expression of excitement, albeit one uttered in my usual Ben Stein deadpan and stoic manner. It’s something I say upon receipt of exciting news–such as the launch of a promising new restaurant. If my restaurant ratings were to be expressed as utterances of excitement, I would rate restaurants on a scale of one to four woos. Whoo’s Donuts in Santa Fe would earn four woos (and certainly more than one “mmm donuts” from Homer Simpson) and not just because of the obvious alliterative similarities between the words. It’s simply one of the most exciting donut restaurants in New Mexico. Woo!

Until the September 30, 2011 launch of Whoo’s Donuts, Santa Fe was surprisingly lacking in a high quality non-chain donut shop to complement all the highly regarded gourmet restaurants which make the City Different one of America’s premier dining destinations. The recognition of this niche opportunity makes it only fitting therefore that this denizen of donut deliciousness be named for the wise owl. Whoo’s Donuts is the brainchild of Jeff and Kari Keenan, owners of The ChocolateSmith which gained national prominence when featured in the Food Network’s “Road Tested” program. Whoo’s Donuts is situated next door to the ChocolateSmith.

Top: Maple bacon with dark chocolate glaze and chili brown sugar; Bottom: Pistachio cake with white chocolate lemon ganache and Dark Chocolate Toffee Donut

The notion of a donut shop taking pride in its use of “organic” and “locally sourced” ingredients may seem antithetical in a market dominated by caloric and processed sugar overachievers, but Whoo’s Donuts pulls it off with absolutely no sacrifice in the flavor and decadence departments, not to mention in imagination. Where the chain donut shops have become predictably banal, Whoo’s is an exciting breath of olfactory arousing air with an inventive array of über-delicious donuts showcased under glass in twin cases. A wooden plank sunburst behind the counter seems to herald the dawn of a new era–an era Whoo’s time has come.

While much of the shop’s business is of the take-out variety, Whoo’s does offer seating (around wooden barrels) for patrons who aren’t in a hurry. Make it a point to stick around where you can also enjoy a custom blend from Fat Boy Roasters of Cedar Crest. You’re bound, as we did, to run into other Homer Simpsonesque donut aficionados happily regaling one another with tales of donuts past and to come. We ran into a couple from Portland who eschewed hometown pride to declare Whoo’s Donuts better than the legendary Voodoo Donuts. That’s high praise indeed.

Cinnamon Roll at top; Dulce de Leche with chocolate and sea salt at bottom

If Portland’s Voodoo Donuts didn’t invent the maple bacon bar, they sure did popularize it. Whoo’s Donuts one-ups Voodoo with a bit of New Mexican alchemy–a maple bacon bar with dark chocolate glaze and chili (sic) brown sugar. Sliced into tiny strips, the bacon is a crispy and savory complement to the adult dark chocolate glaze and the discernibly and very pleasantly piquant chili brown sugar. Great tastes that taste great together! Another terrific triumvirate can be enjoyed in the pistachio cake with white chocolate lemon ganache. The toasted pistachios with their salty underpinnings form a wonderful marriage with the tangy and tart lemon ganache.

Toffee chunks of all sizes punctuate dark chocolate in the dark chocolate toffee donut which just might answer the question as to what a Heath bar might taste like in donut form. It would taste like a delectable bit of paradise. The ChocolateSmith is famous for its chocolate-covered caramels with sea salt, a combination which also works well in a dulce de leche (a sweet cream caramel) donut with chocolate and sea salt. Sea salt both complements and contrasts the sweetness of the caramel and the ecstasy eliciting flavor of dark chocolate. It’s a magical combination. Whoo’s cinnamon rolls are gooey, rich and very cinnamony, better if heated with a pad of melted butter for contrast.

Whatever your expression of excitement might be, Whoo’s Donuts certainly warrants it be expressed loudly. This is a true woo if there ever was one!

Whoo’s Donuts
851-B Cerillos Road
Santa Fe, New Mexico
(505) 629-1678
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 7 January 2012
BEST BET: Dulce de Leche, Cinnamon Roll, Maple bacon with dark chocolate glaze and chili brown sugar, Pistachio cake with white chocolate lemon ganache, Dark Chocolate Toffee Donut

Whoo's Donuts on Urbanspoon

GoNuts Donuts – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

GoNuts Donuts on Albuquerque's West Side

Their Points of View.
‘Twixt optimist and pessimist
The difference is droll;
The optimist the doughnut sees –
The pessimist the hole.
New York Sun, 1904

It’s almost deliciously ironic that the “Optimist’s Creed” references the oft-maligned donut. In recent years, donuts and their high-carb brethren have been damned and all but banned by the “nutritionally correct” who believe America should supplant these decadent orbs of sugary deliciousness with tofu, celery sticks, carrots and beef juice.  Donuts went through a period in which they were nearly as popular as terrorist extremists at a New York City fire department party.  Even the once sanctified Krispy Kreme saw its stock prices plummet.

In such a climate of adversity, it is donut purveyors who have to be eternal optimists even as their product is assailed and vilified. Albuquerque has in recent years seen the demise, departure or diminished numbers of Krispy Kreme, Shipley’s Donuts, Winchell’s Donuts and even Dunkin’ Donuts. Whether it was an onslaught of health-crazed fanatics, reduced ranks in the police force or a combination of other factors, the Duke City can hardly be called the Donut City.

The interior of Go Nuts Donuts

In an article for Saveur, writer extraordinaire John T. Edge, who spent a year on the road researching Donuts: An American Passion (Putnam, 2006), posited that America is undergoing a resurgence in its “love for fried, glazed, filled, and jimmie-sprinkled poufs of dough,” declaring that “the best American doughnuts transcend fads.”  If the recent upsurge in the number of donut shops in Albuquerque is any indication, perhaps donuts also transcend the so-called nutrition police.

In April, 2010, Albuquerque’s burgeoning west side saw the launch of GoNuts Bakery & Sandwich Shoppe, a colorful little shop in the Paradise Hills Shopping Center.  It’s one of a handful of donut stores in Albuquerque, most of which have launched in the past five years or so, perhaps signaling somewhat of a renascence in the Duke City of the popularity of the donut.  GoNuts is located at the former site of the fabulous Painted Horse Coffeehouse and prior to that a bagel shop.

Go Nuts With these Four: Glazed Donut, Chocolate Glazed Donut, Caramel Turtle and German Chocolate

Appropriately the marquee on the store’s frontage depicts a long-tailed squirrel holding a donut in its paws.  The shop’s interior is festooned with pink, blue, ocher and purple colors.  A slate board lists several sandwiches, tempting to be sure, but it’s the donuts under glass to which most patrons seem magnetically drawn.  These are no ordinary donuts, nor are they even the same donuts day-after day.  The donut menu rotates frequently with new additions added whenever the baker has a fit of creativity.

GoNuts Donuts has been locally owned and operated since its inception.  It is currently owned by Daniel Galindro, an entrepreneur with big plans for the donut shop he bought from the family which founded it.  He plans, for example, to bring in pastrami from New York City–pastrami he says will be better even than what is offered at nearby California Pastrami, my local benchmark for great pastrami.  It’s an audacious claim, but if the donuts are any indication, he may be able to pull it off.

GoNuts Donuts are yeast-based which helps them rise and gives them a light and airy texture.  They’re not dense and filling nor are they overly sweet.  Best of all, they’re creatively different.  It’s not everywhere you find caramel turtle and German chocolate donuts.  It’s not everywhere you find donuts this good.  Alas, once they run out of the day’s donut menu, the donuts you fall in love with today may not be available for a while.  That just means you’ll have to try something new and exciting during your next visit.

GoNuts Donuts
9311 Coors, N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 20 November 2010
BEST BET: Glazed Donut, Chocolate Glazed Donut, Caramel Turtle Donut, German Chocolate Donut

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Apple Haus – Long Grove, Illinois (CLOSED)

The Apple Haus in picturesque Long Grove, Illinois

In grade school back in the 1960s, such characters as Paul Bunyan and Johnny Appleseed filled my mind with wonder and awe as I learned to determine fact from fiction (a process I still employ when listening to  nauseating political commercials which pollute the airwaves).  My mind was a veritable tabula rasa (blank slate) upon which my teachers (and my incessant poring over the Encyclopedia) imprinted knowledge of legend, lore, myth and fact.  Learning was a much more innocent process, not yet clouded with the cynicism wrought by historical revisionism based mostly on political ideology.

Johnny Appleseed, it turns out, was very much man, not myth.  Born John Chapman, he became an American legend in America’s frontier days with an enduring legacy that has ensured a place in history.  Johnny was raised on a small Massachusetts farm where he acquired a love of apples as well as adventure.  Renown for his generosity and his stewardship of the earth, he was a pioneering conservationist who planted apple seeds throughout the frontier, introducing apple trees to large parts of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.

Aficionados of all things apple congregate at the Apple Haus

The popular image is of Johnny Appleseed spreading apples randomly, everywhere he went. In actuality, he planted nurseries rather than orchards, building fences around them to protect the apples from livestock. He would leave the nurseries in the care of trusted neighbors who sold trees on shares. Appleseed would return every year or two to tend to the nurseries, pioneering methods of caring for and growing the apples he loved so much.

An avowed vegetarian who loved animals, Johnny Appleseed must have recognized the healthful properties inherent in the apple–properties which prompted the Welsh maxim which has been reduced to “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  It is well-established that apples contain Vitamin C which aids the immune system and phenols which help reduce cholesterol.  Apples also reduce tooth decay by cleaning one’s teeth and killing off bacteria.  Researchers in Cornell University also attribute the quercetin found in apples to the protection of brain cells against neuro-degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

A beautiful sight - apple treats under glass

Although an apple a day may keep the doctor away, a dozen apple cider donuts a day might still not be enough to satiate your wanton lust for the sensational apple cider donuts proffered only at the Apple Haus restaurant in picturesque and historic Long Grove, Illinois.  These  moist gems are absolutely wonderful, the very best apple cider donuts I’ve ever had anywhere.  Wholly unlike biting into a crisp apple, biting into an apple donut is akin to biting into a moist and silken orb miraculously imbued with the flavors of the fruit Johnny Appleseed loved so much.

The Apple Haus also sells all things apple: pies, caramel apples, jellies, butters, syrups and more. You might even want to decorate your house with some of the countrified apple themed accoutrements for sale. For breakfast, you can’t beat their apple bread on which you absolutely must slather their apple butter. On a sweltering summer day, quell your thirst with apple or cherry cider or even better, an apple based slush drink that will help keep you cool. Johnny Appleseed would be proud!

A half dozen apple donuts all destined for me alone

On Hogan’s Heroes, a popular television sitcom of the 1960s based on American prisoners of war incarcerated in a German stalag, the prisoners knew food was the key to acquiring information from Sergeant Schultz, the zeppelin-sized sergeant of the guard.  Sergeant Schultz’s biggest weakness was apple strudel, a dessert the POWs French chef prepared especially well.  One bite of the Apple Haus’s apple strudel and you might not be able to keep a secret either.  This is the very best apple strudel I’ve ever had, constructed with thin layers of thin pastry crust topped with a large crystal sugar surrounding sliced, peeled apples.  Unlike commercial strudel which is often made with more pectin than actual apples, this rendition celebrates the apple in its most crispy and delicious ways.

In September, Long Grove celebrates the apple’s place in the town’s history and prominence with an apple festival which draws tens of thousands of visitors to the village. If apple adoration isn’t your thing, the Apple Haus also celebrates strawberries. In fact, during the month of June, the village of Long Grove has a strawberry festival that will knock your socks off. Strawberry donuts and fritters are especially wonderful at the Apple Haus, but it’s my bet that just about everything else will make your mouth water.

Apple Strudel, the best I've ever had anywhere!

Pearls of wisdom adorn the Apple Haus’s walls including one particularly profound axiom about the way to live your life by remaining focused on the donut and not on the hole. It’s easy to focus on the outstanding orbs at the Apple Haus.

Apple Haus
230 Robert P. Coffin Road
Long Grove, IL

LAST VISIT: 13 October 2010
BEST BETS: Donuts, Apple Cider, Apple Bread, Apple Streudel, Apple Butter

Apple Haus of Long Grove on Urbanspoon

Paradise Donuts – Bosque Farms, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Paradise Donuts in Bosque Farms

Paradise Donuts in Bosque Farms

Though often boorish and crude, America’s favorite everyman philosopher Homer Simpson is prone to occasional bouts of insight. Who can argue with such Homeric sagacity as, “donuts, is there anything they can’t do.” At first browse that statement may appear clouded, make that glazed, but it’s a statement replete with credibility–and not solely with police officers.

Cultural anthropologist Paul R. Mullins posits that one of the best ways to examine a culture is by looking at its eating habits and regional cuisines. He reasons that Americans don’t really have a culinary culture we can call our own, that the American culinary experience is an amalgam of appropriated customs and cooking techniques. The best evidence of this, in his mind, is the donut whose lineage can be traced to the Chinese, French, Germans and Dutch.

In his terrific tome Glazed America: A History of the Doughnut, Mullins examines the evolution of the donut and juxtaposes the rise and fall of its popularity against the development of America’s consumer culture. He exploits the negative stereotypes and perceptions surrounding donuts (think indolent cops and Homer Simpson’s obesity), detailing how the donut has been equally regaled and reviled, the latter often without merit. When it comes to donuts, Mullins argues, Americans don’t sit on the fence–they either love them or they don’t.

If you love donuts, I mean if you really love donuts, options, unlike their effect, are slim. Albuquerque has in recent years seen the demise, departure or diminished numbers of Krispy Kreme, Shipley’s Donuts, Winchell’s Donuts and even Dunkin’ Donuts. Whether it was an onslaught of health-crazed fanatics, reduced ranks in the police force or a combination of other factors, the Duke City can hardly be called the Donut City.

Paradise behind glass

Paradise behind glass

For donuts, Homer clones like me head to Bosque Farms and pay a visit to Paradise Donuts, a regional chain with superior donuts. In fact, these may be the very best donuts in the Land of Enchantment, not that there’s much competition. In business since 1967, Paradise Donuts maintains that the secret to its donuts is a flour blended to be as light and fluffy as air with an incredible shelf life. The other key is that Paradise Donuts, unlike their competitors, focuses solely on donuts.

These are beautiful donuts–imperfect orbs glazed or decorated with sprinkles or engorged with fruit and cream fillings as well as rectangular-shaped long johns, donuts twisted around themselves and even cinnamon rolls. The variety is incredible–buttermilk, chocolate, blueberry, vanilla cake, cherry, apple cinnamon, banana, chocolate chip, chocolate raspberry, pumpkin, strawberry lemon and oh so much more.

Variety is one thing, but where Paradise Donuts excel is in taste. The glazed donuts are melt-in-your-mouth sugary deliciousness, the kind of donuts that leave traces of luscious, lickable glaze on your fingers. The sprinkles are liberally applied to cover most of the top surface of donuts they decorate. The fillings and toppings are rich and delicious. Maple topping tastes like maple, lemon filling tastes like lemon.

A glorious six-pack of donuts

A glorious six-pack of donuts

Paradise Donuts are so good that on some days, the bakery runs out by ten in the morning. They’re so good, savvy donut addicts will call in and reserve a dozen or more. They’re so good you don’t mind the short drive to Bosque Farms, especially considering you can pick up a dozen donuts then have a burger at Benny’s Mexican Kitchen. These donuts will have you behaving like Homer Simpson. Mmmmmm donuts!

Paradise Donuts
1370 Bosque Farms Blvd
Bosque Farms, New Mexico

LATEST VISIT: 27 December 2008
BEST BET: Maple Iced Bar, Chocolate Cake Donut, Cinnamon Roll, Glazed Donut, Glazed Twist Donut

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