Deep-fried Dough in Chicago: The Doughnut Vault

Indulging in fresh doughnuts at the Doughnut Vault, located in the River North neighborhood in the Windy City.

Chicago has always been on my list of cities to explore in the U.S. So far, in every city I’ve visited, it has, without fail, rained or snowed during my trip. Chicago was no exception! On a gloomy, threateningly rainy Sunday morning, I felt like a hot fluffy donut and coffee.  I made the trip over to River North and arrived around 9:30AM, thinking I was early… but I was not early. The line had already already started forming down the sidewalk. I thought, “these must be some damn good doughnuts!” I can bear witness now – let that crowd attest to the truth.

outdoor seating and line.

The shop is very small inside with a small window for ordering and ledges for coffee/water – no more than 4-5 people can fit inside at once. My rule of thumb in situations like this is know what you’re going to order before you get to the front, as a courtesy to the people behind you. The menu is concise so it’s not that daunting of a task. The hard part is choosing which delight you want to splurge on! They are most-known for their buttermilk old-fashioned, but depending on what fruits are in season, they rotate seasonal jelly filled glazed donuts that are definitely worth a gander.


My friend and I got one raspberry-filled donut and a buttermilk Old Fashioned. They are pricier than the typical donut shop fair, but for the size and the quality, it’s worth it. It’s definitely somewhere you gotta try at least a few times if you truly love donuts. I got a small coffee with our order, filled it with milk and head straight outside to the outdoor seating.

raspberry jelly-filled glazed and a buttermilk old-fashioned.

The donuts are huge! The raspberry filling was overflowing and the dough was so fluffy and fresh and the glaze just melted in my mouth. I figured it would be a snack before a real breakfast, but we could barely finish both (but, of course, yes, we did). The old-fashioned was crispy on the outside, airy on the inside and perfectly sweet with glaze. I dipped a bit of each into coffee, ’cause why not.

By the time we got to the front, they had already run out of apple fritters. Not a surprise, considering we saw a few people ordering dozens (READ: multiple boxes of a dozen doughnuts!) just to bring home to their loved ones. Such a bummer, ’cause they had sounded so good. Just means I gotta make a trip back to Chicago for more donut lovin’. Keep that in mind before your visit because they might just sell out of the one you’ve been eyeing!

Tip: try to get here a few minutes before they open. People bought BOXES on boxes of these donuts, leaving less variety for the later folks. Know what you’re going to order and, of course, enjoy! Early bird gets the freshest doughnut!

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