We’ve doubled up on our workouts and salad consumption, but that probably isn’t enough to compensate for the more than 180 doughnuts we have sampled over the past few months. This week, we visit a bakery with royal aspirations in Kensington and a storied hamburger joint with a doughnut fixation in Laurel.
This bakery-cafe is full of rush-hour regulars on weekday mornings. They grab breakfast on the go: egg sandwiches, croissants, muffins, scones, smoothies and, of course, doughnuts. Later in the day, diners come in seeking subs, salads, soups and empanadas.
Address: 3727 University Blvd. W, Kensington, 301-949-3464. www.donutking.net.
Hours: Mondays through Fridays, 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturdays, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sundays, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The lineup: There were just over a dozen kinds of doughnuts on hand when we arrived. We tried the chocolate-frosted, maple-frosted, chocolate-frosted cake, sour cream, cream-filled, honey dip, Bavarian cream, sugared raised, strawberry-filled, cinnamon cake, glazed chocolate cake and chocolate-frosted with sprinkles.
Price: 99 cents each ($7.49 for a dozen).
The look: Despite this bakery’s noble name, these doughnuts seem to have been decorated by careless commoners. Glaze was applied only to the sides, and it appeared as though an old paintbrush had been used to slop on the frosting. (Average weight: 2.9 ounces.)
Price per ounce: 26-45 cents.
How do they taste? For the most part, these doughnuts were awful. The maple-frosted smelled like IHOP at 5 a.m.; a grease slick lingered on the tongue from the chocolate-frosted; and the glazed chocolate cake was so dry and crumbly that it fell apart after a single bite. They helped Donut King earn the third-to-last slot on our overall list. (Average score: 2.4 out of 10.)
Best of the bunch: Sugared raised. Enjoyable if not exemplary, this was merely a decent doughnut, certainly not worthy of ascending to the throne. (Average score: 3.4.)
Worst of the bunch: Strawberry-filled. Its neon-red core tasted like Luden’s cough drops and smelled like industrial-strength cleaner. It was so bad that two judges reflexively spat it right out. This specimen earned the lowest score possible, tying Milan Bakery & Miss Donuts’ strawberry-iced for our most-loathed doughnut thus far. (Average score: 1.0.)
Laurel Tavern Donuts
This green-roofed hut originally housed a Little Tavern, a Baltimore-Washington chain that was renowned for its bags of burgers. You can still buy sliders based on the original recipe here, as well as an abundance of doughnuts, which are fried every morning.
Address: 115 Washington Blvd., Laurel, 301-362-7551.
Hours: Mondays through Fridays, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The lineup: Well over a dozen varieties were on display the morning we stopped by. We sampled the glazed, double-glazed, double-glazed with sprinkles, chocolate-glazed, chocolate-iced twist, cinnamon sugar twist, strawberry-filled, strawberry-iced, Boston cream, coconut cake, chocolate-glazed cake and an apple fritter.
Price: 79-94 cents each ($7.49 a dozen).
The look: Nicely decorated with care and attention, these doughy halos had a come-hither look that proved difficult to resist. The judges were especially charmed by the double-glazed judiciously spangled with rainbow sprinkles. (Average weight: 2.2 ounces.)
Price per ounce: 20-53 cents.
How do they taste? A few thumbs up and a few thumbs down. Though it was super sweet, the surprisingly featherweight double-glazed earned a few fans at the judges’ table, as did the comfort-food cinnamon sugar twist. Conversely, the chocolate-glazed cake had been left in the fryer and on the shelf too long. Another disappointment was the too-crispy apple fritter, which lacked a single bit of fruit. (Average score: 4 out of 10.)
Best of the bunch: Glazed. It was puffy, fluffy and well executed. Sometimes simple is best. (Average score: 5.3.)
Worst of the bunch: Strawberry-iced. “Smells like Strawberry Shortcake,” one judge noted before adding, “The doll; not the dessert.” Another simply drew a sad face on her score sheet. (Average score: 2.3.)
The running totals so far
Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken: 6.9
Woodward Takeout Food: 5.4
Zeke’s DC Donutz*: 5.1
Breads Unlimited: 5
Woodmoor Pastry Shop: 4.2
Heller’s Bakery: 4.1
Nothing but Donuts and Laurel Tavern Donuts (tie): 4
Shilla Bakery: 3.9
Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe and Safeway (tie): 3.5
Family Bakery & Mrs. Doughnut and G Street Foods (tie): 3.4
Shoppers Food & Pharmacy and Raulin’s Bakery (tie): 3.3
Krispy Kreme: 3.1
Donut King: 2.4
Dunkin’ Donuts: 2.2
Milan Bakery & Miss Donuts: 2.1
Astro creme brulee and PBJ (tie): 8
GBD berry fritter: 7.6
Breads Unlimited plain glazed: 5.9
Nothing But Donuts Dinosaur
Milan Bakery & Miss Donuts strawberry iced and Donut King strawberry-filled (tie): 1
Dunkin’ Donuts toasted coconut: 1.1
Family Bakery & Mrs. Doughnut vanilla-iced with sprinkles: 2
Krispy Kreme glazed raspberry-filled: 2.1
Shoppers Food & Pharmacy vanilla-glazed cake, Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe glazed cruller, and Raulin’s Bakery maple nut (tie): 2.3*Temporarily closed