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David Holub

I found the best donuts around ... and they’re not in Durango

Ar 180229924
David Holub/DGO
Ar 180229924
David Holub/DGO
Ep 180229924
David Holub/DGO
Ep 180229924
David Holub/DGO

Let’s talk some more about donuts.

Last month I set out on a quest to find the best donut in Durango and pitted Rendezvous, Doughworks, and City Market against one another. While each had admirable qualities in various categories (Rendezvous boasts the highest-quality ingredients, for instance, while Doughworks won on sweetness ratio and pillowy softness), do you think I was going to let my donut quest end at the Durango city limits?

To remind, this quest isn’t merely about stuffing my large, rotund face with fried dough and sugar (that’s only 75 percent of it). At stake in this endeavor is my wedding party and the 10 dozen donuts we will force into the mouths of 80 of our most favorite humans in lieu of cake. So, you see, finding the perfect donut is non-negotiable and at the top of my list of priorities.

Well, with ever-tightening jeans, I am happy to report that I found an all-but-perfect donut. Unfortunately, they’re not in Durango. They’re not even in Colorado. They are Johnny O’s Spudnuts in Farmington.

To get the nagging question out of the way, despite sounding like a dinner cereal Homer Simpson might eat, they’re called Spudnuts because they’re made out of potato flour. According to the Spudnut website, this is the reason they’re so light and fluffy. Whatever. Sounds good to me. Any donut that tastes that good could be made out of pencil shavings and I’d eat it.

So where to begin with Johnny O’s? How about on the ride down from Durango. I remarked about how the hallmark of a good donut shop is a variety of filled donuts. Normally places stop at raspberry or maybe a custard in a Boston Crème. So, the first thing we see in the 10-foot wide display case at Johnny O’s is a tray of bismarks. We ask, “What are the bismarks filled with?”

“Those are filled to order,” they said. “We have cherry, lemon, apple ...” She mentioned a few other flavors but my heart had already glazed itself and my brain had coated itself in chocolate, which incapacitated my eardrums. I ordered two, cherry and lemon, and was delighted to discover that they slice the donut in half like a bun and spread the filling evenly. No more jelly glob in the middle of a filled donut that has to be rationed with every bite.

Things only got better. We ordered glazed, chocolate iced, lemon iced (who woulda thought?!), maple, cinnamon sugar, and French crullers. All were so soft I tried slurping them up with a straw. The amount of sweetness was dialed in just right. They were fried to perfection. I ate them like they were potato chips.

But it didn’t stop at the donuts. The place had style, from its reserved parking spot out front for law enforcement, to its spacious, modern kitchen visible from two sides thanks to a glass wall and nuevo-industrial decor, to its classy, stylishly 1950s-inspired signage and logo.

And if that wasn’t enough, this donut shop has a grill that’s always open during business hours, serving burgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, and fries and onion rings. Because the donuts were so good, I had no choice but to order a burger at 9 a.m. on a Saturday, which was also rather splendid.

The biggest downfall of Johnny O’s? They’re closed on Sundays. C’mon!

By the end of the visit, I thought everything was almost too perfect, too slick, too much of everything I ever wanted in a donut shop that doubles as a hamburger stand. The counter staff and donut makers were too friendly; the other customers even seemed to smile at us. All the while I couldn’t stop thinking about donuts and how I wanted more. I wondered if they were hiring and what would it take to relocate to Farmington, or how maybe I could open up my own franchise in Durango.

And then it hit me: The fluffiness, the sweetness-to-dough ratio, the lightly fried goodness – and a burger for dessert?! Johnny O’s Spudnuts are made out of people. That’s it. Has to be. In the parking lot, I was like Charlton Heston in “Soylent Green,” screaming at the sky, “Johnny O’s Spudnuts are people! They’re people!”

How else do donut dreams get this good?