As you know, I am ALWAYS on the lookout for fresh, old-school donuts. Always. “Destination” donut places are fine – you know, the fancier, more hipster-esque shops whose marvelous cakes flood your Instagram feed. I’m all for those places…sometimes. But my heart truly belongs to the hidden gem, hole-in-the-wall shops who specialize in the classic, no-frills donuts that have stood the test of time. Simple cake and yeast friers that are sweet and decadent, but not cloying. So on a recent father/son excursion for breakfast, the boy and I stopped to check out Donuts Plus in the University City area of W. Philly. I had been tipped off by a friend who visits the shop on a very regular basis that this place could supply all of the classic donut shop love that I could handle. So I had to check it out.
So, first off, this was my very first trip EVER to West Philly. From what I observed, the area seems a little rough around the edges, but hides some true gems like this place. Donuts Plus is sandwiched in a small strip mall at the corner of Chestnut & S. 44th St. We arrived around 8:30 AM on a Saturday morning and knowing that this is the kind of shop that you have to get there early for the best selection, I was hoping we’d still have a decent variety to choose from. I was pleasantly surprised to find the cases still plentifully filled with tray after tray of golden donut bounty. The shop is very small inside, with no seating area…just a row of counters displaying the goods, with several very friendly ladies behind it, waiting to box up your treats.
My eyes (and my belly) automatically found the biggest donuts in the case first thing. The apple fritters are absolutely HUGE – twice as big as most of the other donuts they sell, with the cinnamon rolls coming in a close second.
Again, going in with a bit of foreknowledge, I was told that the French crullers here were TO DIE FOR. They looked incredible. As did the filled yeast donuts and the long johns.
Steven loves jelly-filled donuts. He was drooling over these.
The Olde Fashioned is definitely a favorite. Classics like these, as well as the cake donuts on the tray below, will always bring me what I like to call, “fat kid happiness” :).
Here’s a look at more of their inventory. This is about as fancy as they get here, and that’s just fine with me.
So after some major consideration, the boy and I came up with a perfect Mixed dozen ($7.25). Yes, you read that right…12 fresh, amazing donuts for $7 bucks and some change. Seriously…I was stunned. We each gobbled one down in the car before heading to breakfast, and took the rest home to Mrs. Grub Guy afterwards. I have to tell you guys, the French cruller was definitely my favorite. It was amazingly light, fresh, sweet, eggy, airy, and absolutely delicious. I actually ate 2 of the 3 that we bought. Every donut was quality. The cakies were moist, dense and yummy, and the yeasties were light and fresh.
Pro Tip: The “Plus” in the name could possibly refer to the fact that besides donuts, the shop also serves many convenient store items like chips, candy and they even have a roller grill where they’re cooking up hot dogs and sausages (even at 8:30 in the morning!). They also offer plastic take-out containers (they’re not really bottles or jugs…hard to describe) of homemade lemonade, pink lemonade and iced tea.
Pro Tip #2: Donuts Plus is a cash only business. Don’t bring your fancy credits cards. There is an ATM on premises if you forget.
Fortunately for my wallet, and my waist line, I don’t live very close to Donuts Plus. But I know that whenever I’m in this area, I will not hesitate to stop in for a box of donuts. The value is seriously tremendous. They also serve some extremely yummy iced coffee from what I’m told, though I didn’t get a chance to sample it on this visit.
Why in the world anyone would go to chain shops like Dunkin’ Donuts when we’ve got these gems around the city is absolutely beyond me. If you love good donuts, be sure to check this place out.
Donuts Plus is located at 4325 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104 (MAP). They’re open Monday – Saturday from 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM, and Sunday 7:00 AM – 4:00 PM.