The people of Columbus are certainly accustomed to great donuts. Even with the large number of national donut chain drive-thrus going up all over town, shops like Buckeye Donuts on campus, Resch’s on the east side, Honey Dip on Kenny Rd, and DK Diner in Grandview have all been thriving for decades because of their hometown appeal and quality product. So, when you hear of a local donut shop that you haven’t tried yet, it’s always a treat to be able to stop in on a cold, frosty morning and sample a donut or two and some hot, fresh coffee. My wife and I recently had a morning free, so we did just that. We headed over to the Lil’ Donut Factory in Hilliard, to check out the selection of delectable cakes and pastries that I had heard so much about. I particularly wanted to find the truth to the rumor about a donut so awesome that its name alone had my mouth watering….the maple-iced, bacon topped long john!!
Now, I’m pretty familiar with the area, but if someone was trying to find the shop without prior knowledge of its location, it would be pretty tough. Located at an awkward intersection at Leap Rd. and Scioto Darby, the Lil’ Donut Factory sits about a half mile back off of any main thoroughfare, in a small building that is connected to a Sunoco gas station. It’s a pretty unusual setup, but I’m told that the locals have no problem at all making the trek, sometimes on a daily basis, to acquire the cakes they crave.
The shop itself isn’t anything unique or elaborate, with a small, but inviting interior and 3-4 tiny tables to sit at. The decor and wall hangings are mostly comic book and movie poster paraphernalia that are really pretty cool, especially if you’re a geek like me. There is a glass counter that had just a few selections of donut holes and other pastries in it when we stopped in, but the main attraction is the wall case filled with deep fried goodness. The day we stopped in, the owner was casually standing at the counter on his laptop, and quickly greeted us as we came inside the door. He was a very nice guy, and you can tell he takes pride in his business. We opted for the “Baker’s Dozen”, a box full of 13 donuts that you can choose yourself or have them selected for you. We actually somehow ended up with 14 donuts in our box when it was all said and done. Unfortunately, the greeting, selection, and checkout process all happened so quickly that I forgot to even take a photo of the inside of the store. Anyway, rack after rack of donuts are presented for your choosing, and all are included and up for grabs in the regular price of a Baker’s Dozen. We got a pretty good sampling, and I was super excited when I found what I had specifically come for…..
The maple-iced, bacon topped long john was everything I had expected. The donut itself was light, chewy and perfectly flavored, the maple icing was smooth and added just the right amount of sweetness, and the bacon was…well, a heavenly accent, as only fried pork fat can be. When we arrived at the shop at around 8:30am, there were only two of these guys left in the case. I have been told they almost always sell out, so if you want one you have to get there early.
The photos below are just a small sample of our purchases, and of the selection the shop has on a daily basis…
The “Baker’s Dozen” ….that’s heaven in a box right there, folks.
My wife JUMPED at this one….the red velvet donut. YUM!!!!
The chocolate-iced, chocolate donut and the pumpkin donut….
One of my favorites: the apple fritter, and a chocolate-iced creme-filled long john…
My wife couldn’t wait to dig in to these beauties….
I can honestly say that from my experience at the Lil’ Donut Factory in Hilliard, there is definitely another serious contender in the donut game in Columbus, Ohio. Everything about the place, from the owner’s friendly, welcoming demeanor to the quality and flavor of these wonderful treats, is for real, and hopefully this west side establishment will be serving up sweet, fresh awesomeness for decades to come!!
The Lil’ Donut Factory is located at 4543 Scioto Darby Rd., Hilliard, OH 43026 (Map). They are open Tuesday – Friday, 5:30am – 1:00pm, and Saturday-Sunday, 7:00am – 1:00pm. You can check them out on Facebook for more info.