Right up front, no Dunkin’ Donuts and no Krispy Kremes. We’re sticking with local spots for this list. That said, doughnut deals can be found at many chains on June 7, which is National Doughnut Day: Dunkin’ is offering a free classic doughnut with the purchase of any drink. Krispy Kreme is giving out one free doughnut per customer, no purchase required. Even Walmart is getting in on the doughnut action: Go to the bakery section of any Walmart Supercenter on Friday to get a free glazed doughnut (one per person).
Here are our other favorite spots around Tampa Bay to get a doughnut.
Doughnuts cool on the rack after being fried in the kitchen at Dough. (Times, 2016)
Birthday-cake-stuffed doughnut. Whoa. Or how about a cookie dough doughnut cone? This place is not afraid of pushing the envelope. Or blowing up the envelope entirely and replacing it with a whoopee cushion. Their social media efforts and marquee outside speak to a deep reservoir of humor and not taking themselves too seriously. But underneath all that, they are stone-cold doughnut technicians, with Bill Fray’s benediction. Their bacon obsession continues unabated, but their classics (vanilla cake glazed, jelly filled) are exceptional and a steal for 99 cents. I’m going to ding Dough because sometimes the decorations can dip toward Jackson Pollock messy, but it’s still top dog. Oh, and just so you know, Dough supplies the doughnuts to Ginger Beard Coffee and the Independent.
2602 S MacDill Ave., Tampa
The Donut Experiment
Technically not in the Tampa Bay area, but worth the gas. For the third year running, my family will rent a beach getaway on Anna Maria Island situated just above this doughnut shop so that my 9-year-old niece can get up every morning and take our orders (she has designed her own order forms) and walk down to retrieve them. We are teaching her independence, and also that good doughnuts are worth extra effort. Opened in 2012 and originally called Anna Maria Donuts, its name was changed by Shawn and Cecilia Wampole so they could franchise. All cake doughnuts, $1.35 a piece, there are five icing choices (chocolate, caramel, maple, vanilla, glaze) and then a range of toppings. Through exhaustive research, it was determined that the chocolate iced with the peanut butter drizzle (and sea salt if you are so bold) is the acme.
210c Pine Ave., Anna Maria Island
Fray’s Donut House
Fray's Donut House in St. Petersburg. (Times, 2016)
The three existing locations are independently owned and not related to Bill Fray at this point. They are classic, old-school doughnut shops with crullers and doughnut holes, maple- and chocolate sprinkle-topped yeast doughnuts. The cake doughnuts have a nice vanilla flavor and light, tender texture. Bagels are also on offer, fairly pillowy but anchoring several solid breakfast sandwiches. The honey dipped is an archetypal American invention, yeasty and aggressively sweet, fingertip-besmirching and calling out for a cup of coffee.
5236 16th St. N, St. Petersburg, (727) 528-1410
649 34th St. N, St. Petersburg, (727) 528-1410
4900 Park Blvd., Pinellas Park, (727) 541-3688
Little Donut House
As the name might suggest, this spot on Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa specializes in mini doughnuts. And in a ton of fun flavor/topping combinations. You can opt to top your minis with everything from sprinkles to cereal to bacon. These bite-sized sweets are perfect for when you don’t want to commit to just one flavor.
4048 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa
The Hole Donuts
Jacque Simmons makes “small batch, gourmet donuts” in St. Pete Beach, mostly for weddings and special events. She doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar store. And yet she makes the list for the sheer genius and prettiness of her doughnuts. They are not cheap (about $3 each), but the Creme Brulee — a traditional French creme custard-filled brioche with a bruleed sugar top that is seriously perfect with that brittle, caramelized snap — is worth every penny. These are next-generation doughnuts, the brioche dough not too sweet, with combinations of flavors that impress: Try the Margarita topped with tequila lime glaze, a dust of lime zest and shakes of Florida Sunshine Salt from the Spice & Tea Exchange. Brides, everyone at your wedding is going to be talking about these things, not your dress. You decide.
Jupiter Donut Company
Fresh doughnuts from Jupiter Donut Company. (Times, 2016)
This is not related to the superfamous doughnut shop of the same name in Jupiter. Owner Nick Thimis has created an attractive, contemporary forum for some solid doughnuts, serviced admirably by Buddy Brew coffees. The top offering here is the red velvet topped with sweetened cream cheese. Perfect snappiness, the cream cheese adding a dessertlike sumptuousness. Second best is the salted caramel (is there a more popular word combination in 2016?), and then comes the bacon maple. The apple fritter, like a glazed human brain, would require several hungry people to dispatch, but it has nice flavor. Doughnuts are mostly $1.25.
32130 U.S. 19 N, Palm Harbor
Hole in One Donuts
Married couple Kosal Pho and Janeda Testa wake up at 2 a.m. daily to bake regular and decorated specialty doughnuts the old-fashioned way in their newly opened shop. They plan to give away one free regular doughnut per customer on National Doughnut Day — while supplies last. You choose from around 20 fresh yeast or cake rings in flavors like chocolate, glazed and blueberry.
39024 U.S. 19 N, Tarpon Springs
Nicola’s Donut Shop
Doughnuts from Fray's Donut House, Jupiter Donuts and Nicola's Donut Shop. (Times, 2016)
Rick Scott thought it was a good PR move to serve doughnuts here. Opened in 1982 by Joe and Kathy Nicola, this is a traditional longtimer with more than 50 varieties, roughly 30 cupcake options and a range of other seasonal pastries. Some of the doughnuts can look a little blowsy with sprinkles and squiggles of drizzle. For our money, the sour cream old-fashioned is textbook, with the ideal snap and crustiness to the outer edge and moist, tender crumb, and the coconut cream pie doughnut is homely but fabulous. Glazed yeasted is the top seller, a bargain at 90 cents.
902 W Busch Blvd., Tampa
Information from Times archives was used in this report.