I don’t really like doughnuts (weird, I know). I mean, they’re okay, but given a choice of breakfast options, they’re not what I would pick. I don’t usually eat them and, outside of one time (at Voodoo Doughnut in Portland), I’ve never found them that tasty.
However, I kept reading about the Doughnut Vault (see: a tale of Doughnut Vault woe and Food & Wine’s list of America’s best doughnuts). So, I decided I’d give it a try. I read that you had to get there early – they often sell out by mid-morning. Throughout the morning, they Tweet information about how many people are in line and how many doughnuts are left, further feeding the frenzy. On Saturdays, they open at 9:30, and I arrived at 8:30. Even an hour early, I was maybe the 30th person in line. We asked the people at the front, and they had arrived around 7:30. Insane.
Are the doughnuts worth an hour (or more) wait? I’m not sure, but they were certainly delicious and, overall, it was a fun experience. I felt like I was part of a little community, we crazy people lined up together on the sidewalk, waiting a ridiculous amount of time for the famed doughnuts. Just standing in line itself was an experience: some people came super-prepared (bringing folding chairs with them!), and every person who walked, biked, or cabbed by stared at us in confusion – what is everyone lined up for?
When the doors opened at 9:30, people actually cheered. As the line moved forward, I discovered that when they named this place the “vault,” they really weren’t kidding – it’s tiny. It also has lots of cute, vintage-feeling details crammed into the small space – my favorite being the super fancy gold cash register. Very cool.
I ordered two doughnuts – a chestnut, and a pistachio (the special of the day) – one for that day, and one for the next day’s breakfast. They do have more traditional flavors (glazed and jelly-filled), but I wanted to branch out and try something unique. Both were delicious, but I really liked the chestnut. I was a little uncertain about that one – I couldn’t recall ever eating chestnuts before – but it turned out to be very flavorful. And it only took me 1.5 hours, 2 rides on the L, 1 application of sunscreen, and infinite patience to get it.
(Their coffee is good, but strong. But iced coffee after standing in the sun for an hour = essential. And, apropos of nothing, I’m obsessed with the striped dress I scored for $10 at Old Navy. Bargain find!)
(Do you see me in the above picture? Bun atop head, sunglasses propped up, bright nail polish – this summer’s uniform).
The Details: The Doughnut Vault | 400 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60654