Best Doughnuts in Ottawa

Doughnuts. How can you go wrong with deep fried sweet dough filled with fruit preserves or pastry cream and sprinkled with sugar?

During decades of travel we have tasted some amazing doughnuts… Churros in Mexico, bombolini and zeppole in Italy, berliners in Germay, oliebollen in the Netherlands, loukoumades in Greece, petes de nonnes in France…

via GIPHY

Canadians do love their doughnuts / bismarks / jambusters / burlington buns / paczek (regional names for the beloved of Homer Simpson). Doughnuts are right up there with maple syrup, bacon, smoked salmon, and poutine (for non-Canucks, that is French fries covered in gravy and cheese curds).

According to Dr. Wiki, Canadians consume the most doughnuts and have the most doughnuts emporia per capita in the world.

The largest doughnut chain in Canada is Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons (a.k.a. “Timmys”), is so popular that the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce issues a Tim Hortons Double Double Visa that helps you earn Timmys products (although we much prefer credit cards that earn travel rewards). For non-Canadian readers, a “Double Double” is Canadian slang for “coffee with two creams and two sugars, Please” – because Canadians are so very polite.

Generations of Canadians have grown up in Tim Hortons shops…. Where else can you get squeals of delight from children, have a super cheap date, get out of the cold, and find a clean bathroom, all for under two dollars? Even the golden arches can’t compare for a quick unhealthy snack at the price of sofa-cushion change. I have been to countless meetings where we survived on massive boxes of Timbits (doughnut holes) in various flavors. The chocolate always go first. So it is fair to say that doughnuts are a symbol of Canadian cheap eats.

This week we went on a quest in our beloved city in search of the best doughnuts to be had in the downtown area. We started our calorie-laden adventure at Timmys to get our bearings…

Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons doughnuts donuts
Type: Boston Cream (cream filled with chocolate icing)
Price: $1.05 (including tax)
Freshness: Probably made the same day
Dough Quality: Fair – a little short on body

doughnut Icing/Filling Quality: Cream filling was almost flavorless, and the chocolate topping was waxy and way too sweet, overwhelming the weak chocolate flavor.
Icing/Filling Quality: Cream filling was almost flavorless, and the chocolate topping was waxy and way too sweet, overwhelming the weak chocolate flavor.

Size: small enough to entirely consume while waiting at one red light
Overall: A basic standard, not worth going out of your way for, but the price is right and the outlets are ubiquitous. Not for foodies.

Rideau Bakery

The Rideau Bakery is an Ottawa institution, best known for their light rye bread. Back when Nate’s Deli was still in business, weekends often involved some Rideau Bakery light rye bread smeared with hot mustard and piled high with Montreal smoked meat, and a Strub’s pickle on the side.
The Rideau Bakery is an Ottawa institution, best known for their light rye bread. Back when Nate’s Deli was still in business, weekends often involved some Rideau Bakery light rye bread smeared with hot mustard and piled high with Montreal smoked meat, and a Strub’s pickle on the side.

Type: Boston Cream.
Price: $1.40 (including tax)
Freshness: stale – tasted like a day-old
Dough Quality: merely adequate – low on flavor and chewy, but not in a good way.

Doughnut Donut Icing/Filling Quality: Cream filling had a mild flavor – but not quite sure what it was.
Icing/Filling Quality: Cream filling had a mild flavor – but not quite sure what it was.

Size: a little bigger than Timmy’s – maybe a red light with a couple of bites left over.
Overall: Not a well-made specimen, the cream filling was leaking out the top, and the injection site was marked by a crop-circle in the icing. While it would presumably have been better when fresh, it was probably never much better than Tim’s.

Timmys and the Rideau Bakery set the inexpensive cheap eats doughnut yardstick that we used to assess five higher end municipal doughnut offerings…

Mavericks Donut Company

do-mavericks-logo

The shop just recently opened and was featured in the Ottawa Magazine.

Kids are going to love this place as they can choose their own toppings, like in an ice cream shop. 
Kids are going to love this place as they can choose their own toppings, like in an ice cream shop.

Type: Crème Brulee
Price: $3.00 each
Freshness: Fresh
Dough Quality: good elasticity and desirable chewiness, but low on flavor

Doughnut Donut Icing/Filling Quality: Extremely sweet, the crème brulee was too bruleed and did not have much crème in the filling; it was nearly inedible.
Icing/Filling Quality: Extremely sweet, the crème brulee was too bruleed and did not have much crème in the filling; it was nearly inedible.

Size: a solid production, worth pulling over for.
Overall: They have not been in business for a week; we will go back in a few months when they have got their bearings and try them again (in the name of science of course). In the meantime, a great place to get doughnuts for kids, who can have them topped any way they like. 

Suzy Q Doughnuts

SuzyQ opened in a small shed a few years ago, and recently expanded to a much larger space with seating and a wider range of offerings. If you go looking for them at their old location at 991 Wellington West, you will find their new location just one block east. Be warned: parking at the new location can be challenging.
SuzyQ opened in a small shed a few years ago, and recently expanded to a much larger space with seating and a wider range of offerings. If you go looking for them at their old location at 991 Wellington West they are not there.  You will find their new location just one block east. Be warned: parking at the new location can be challenging.

Type: Lemon Poppy, Dirty Chocolate
Price: $3:00 each
Freshness: Fresh
Dough Quality: Excellent, with pleasant elastic chewiness, but low on flavour  and fairly light.

Doughnut Donut Icing/Filling Quality: The lemon poppy was too sweet for one of us, though the other thought it was just fine. It was certainly very lemony, with bits of lemon zest visible throughout. The dirty chocolate was excellent – dark chocolate icing with cocoa powder.
Icing/Filling Quality: The lemon poppy was too sweet for one of us, though the other thought it was just fine. It was certainly very lemony, with bits of lemon zest visible throughout. The dirty chocolate was excellent – dark chocolate icing with cocoa powder.

Size: Large – find a place to park, or maybe just eat in the shop.
Overall: A very substantial and excellent doughnut, though with a tendency to the too sweet side.

Art-Is-In Boulangerie

Art-Is-In is an Ottawa phenomenon – started just a few years ago from a basement on Wellington, this bakery is one of Canada’s best bread shops. With an eat-in menu of sandwiches, soups, and salads, you can even feel like you went there for a whole meal, not just the exquisite pastries.
Art-Is-In is an Ottawa phenomenon – started just a few years ago from a basement on Wellington, this bakery is one of Canada’s best bread shops. With an eat-in menu of sandwiches, soups, and salads, you can even feel like you went there for a whole meal, not just the good-excellent  pastries.

Type: Berliner filled with lemon curd
Price: $3.75
Freshness: Fresh
Dough Quality: Excellent, pleasant elastic chewiness with a subtle but distinct vanilla sweetness

Icing/Filling Quality: The lemon curd was excellent – lemony, sweet but not too much, as good as lemon curd gets and a mark of a true chef in charge
Icing/Filling Quality: The lemon curd was excellent – lemony, sweet but not too much, as good as a lemon curd gets and a mark of a true chef in charge

Size: not much bigger than a Timmy’s – one red light probably does it, but you should probably pull over so you can enjoy it better.
Overall: Among the best doughnuts in town, you have to get there early, as they run out fairly quickly and there are usually line-ups to get in.

BeaverTails

An Ottawa institution for almost 40 years, Beaver Tails has their flagship store in the Byward Market, but can also be found seasonally on the Rideau Canal skateway and at fairs and festivals around town.
An Ottawa institution for almost 40 years, Beaver Tails has their flagship store in the Byward Market, but can also be found seasonally on the Rideau Canal skateway and at fairs and festivals around town and beyond.

Type: Killaloe Sunrise (topping: butter, sugar, cinnamon, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice)
Price: $4.75 each
Freshness: Fresh – cooked to order and piping hot
Dough Quality: the thin flat format means this confection is almost all crust, with little inner dough – but no-one is complaining!

Icing/Filling Quality: the topping is a perfected blend of sugar and cinnamon enriched with butter, served with a lemon wedge so you can squeeze on as much or as little of the stuff as you like.
Icing/Filling Quality: the topping is a perfected blend of sugar and cinnamon enriched with melted butter, served with a lemon wedge so you can squeeze on as much or as little of the stuff as you like.

Overall: Consistently yummy.

The Nutty Greek Bakeshop

The Nutty Greek is a small restaurant off Carling near Dow’s Lake, run by a mother and her two daughters, that seems to cater mainly to the lunch crowd in the federal government buildings in the area. In addition to their loukoumades, they have amongst the best Greek to go food in town.
The Nutty Greek is a small restaurant off Carling near Dow’s Lake, run by a mother and her two daughters, that seems to cater mainly to the lunch crowd in the federal government buildings in the area. In addition to their loukoumades, they have amongst the best Greek to go food in town.

Type: Loukoumades (small doughnut balls, drenched in Greek honey and sprinkled with cinnamon).
Price: One dozen for $4.50

Freshness: Made to order and served piping hot.
Freshness: Made to order and served piping hot.
Dough Quality: Superb. A touch of vanilla. Maybe it’s just the freshness, but the Nutty Greek’s dough has the best soft chewy springiness of those we have sampled.
Dough Quality: Superb. A touch of vanilla. Maybe it’s just the freshness, but the Nutty Greek’s dough has the best soft chewy springiness of those we have sampled.

Icing/Filling Quality: Real honey and cinnamon, and tastes like it.
Size: Don’t even get in the car. You will want to eat this in the restaurant, while it is still fresh and hot. Make sure you take lots of napkins. These you eat slowly. While waiting (they take 20 minutes), you can have a great Greek salad or an amazing chicken wrap stuffed to bursting with real chicken breast.
Overall: The epicurean slow food of the doughnut world, this is our #1 favorite Ottawa doughnut.

And besides, the Byward Market is a great tourist destination in itself, with plenty to see and do, like this busker in front of Beavertails when we visited.
So – what’s your favorite Ottawa doughnut shop?

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