Break the Chain!
If you've been seeking Boston's best donuts and coffee at Dunkin' or Starbucks, you're about to get a very pleasant—and tasty—surprise.
Boston has some of the best coffee and donuts you’ll find anywhere… and you won’t find them at Dunkin' or Starbucks or Honey Dew or Peet’s. I know, I know: heresy.
Except that I have proof, and so does my husband. Because we ate them all in one day. That’s right: six coffee shops and six donut shops.
Rather than sharing every sip and bite, we’re breaking it down to our top picks in each category (your mileage, as with all things food, may vary).
THE TOP DONUT CONTENDERS:
Union Square Donuts
This mainstay of the Somerville neighborhood draws fans from every part of the city. Witness the maple bacon donut! The sea-salted bourbon caramel! The brown butter hazelnut crunch!
It turns out that, while the exotic options are delicious and well worth the trip, we fell in love with the simple Sugar-Raised option. Are we boring? No! We’re just… purists.
20 Bow Street, Somerville, 617.209.2257, unionsquaredonuts.com
Take a spin to the North Shore and you’ll find many exceptional donut picks at Kane’s in Saugus. They have three times as many flavors available as Union Square, but the highlights are the traditional picks here: the French Cruller and the simple, but amazing, Chocolate Frosted.
120 Lincoln Avenue, Saugus, 781.233.8499, kanesdonuts.com
We arrived to find a happy group of elderly gentlemen playing chess and eating donuts, which seemed like the ultimate vote of time-honored confidence in Linda’s wares.
We had several more traditional options to choose from (Boston cream, powdered sugar, chocolate cake, etc.), but we opted for the light-as-air honey-dipped raised donut, and loved every bite.
From the great minds and palates behind one of the South End’s best haunts, The Gallows (pun intended), Blackbird delivers the perfect balance of simple perfection (the chocolate old-fashioned or vanilla glaze) and slightly insane innovation—white pizza anyone? Our advice? Pick the weirdest option in their current flavors list and enjoy.
492 Tremont St, Boston, 617.482.9000, blackbirddoughnuts.com
THE TOP COFFEE CONTENDERS:
This coffeehouse is just across the street from Union Square Donuts in Somerville—close enough to make it feel as convenient as a Dunkin'! We requested our standard order (an Americano for him, and a latte for me) and both were crafted quickly and beautifully.
(Also, I REPEAT: UNION SQUARE DONUTS IS RIGHT THERE!)
11 Bow St, Somerville, 617.623.0000, bloc11.com
This spot across from Boston Common is always busy, and for good reason: the Stumptown-brewing baristas at Thinking Cup do everything right. The latte was smooth yet strong, the Americano was nutty yet bright, and both were incredibly rich… a collection of attributes we strive for on a daily basis.
165 Tremont St, Boston, 617.482.5555, thinkingcup.com
As the only actual roaster in our top three, Barismo gets a special nod for effort—and a jittery shout of joy for the caramelly quality of their doppio. There isn’t a ton of space to hang out (much like Linda’s, and unlike Thinking Cup), but it’s worth the trip to Arlington to grab a to-go.
171 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, 339.368.7300, barismo.com
Is there a hole in these recommendations? Well, sure.
We know it’s not always feasible to head to Arlington for a doppio, or to Saugus for your chocolate frosted. But if you save our picks for a relaxing jaunt on a Saturday or Sunday, you’ll preserve their status as a standout treat.