Park across the street or in the back, approach the door, pull to open, enter. Face the wall. The wall of donut flavors, that is. If you're like me, you know exactly what you are there getting; you pre-ordered the cinnamon-sugar vegan donuts yesterday since they're known to sell out. You make your way to the counter, now totally consumed by the light, sweet smell of fresh donuts. To your left: freshly squeezed orange and grapefruit juices; to your right, handmade mugs and t-shirts with the Holy Donut logo imprinted on them. The t-shirts read 'If loving donuts is wrong, I don't want to be right!' This place couldn't get much cuter. You pay for your donuts (yes, they accept credit cards), and grab a window seat. Welcome to my Sunday morning.
Now back to why you're living out my Sunday morning: the potato donut. The Holy Donut specializes in making real, old-school donuts just the way (my old, very French) Grandma used to. Instead of just adding in potato flour, they take eating locally to a whole new level by cooking and mashing real Maine potatoes into the donut batter. The plain, simple cinnamon and sugar flavored potato donut is 100% vegan, and 100% of the reason I will never look at donuts the same way again. The donuts have a lightly sweetened flavor and are thick, slightly doughy, and- amazingly-manages the perfect balance of dense-ness and air pockets. Opened for about a year and a half, The Holy Donut began as one woman's mission to create a better-for-you, traditional style donut with tons of flavor. Leigh Kellis teamed up with her Dad to start producing what I now know as vegan donut gold after longing for far too long for delicious donuts near where she lived.
"She LOVES donuts!" Her sister Liz told me when I stopped by for an interview last weekend. So, Leigh took matters into her own hands and started creating a product people just couldn't get enough of. Now most of the family works there together and they create at least a dozen regular daily flavors, along with several other specialty flavors everyday. They have a few that are regularly popular, like the Maine blueberry, ginger-glazed sweet potato, & chai glazed-and few funky favorites too: apple cider donuts made using the whole apple, mojito donuts in the summertime, and an Allen's coffee brandy flavor- which started as a one-time gimmick but became so popular it earned a spot on the everyday menu! The most popular flavor to sell out first every single day? That would be the dark chocolate sea salt, and from what I've heard, its worth getting there when the doors open just to guarantee yourself one. I asked Liz what her favorite was and she immediately knew- "Lemon! We use freshly squeezed lemon juice in the old-fashioned lemon glaze. Is it so good!" Well its sounds good!
In fact, that is one of my favorite things about this place- everything is done simply, the old way. There are no 'donut machines' in this place. All the donuts are freshly made each morning, then hand-cut and hand-glazed by one of the awesome 20 employees on staff (between the 2 locations). They use unbleached flour and organic cane sugar is all their recipes and because they use a very small amount of sugar in their recipes (about a teaspoon per dozen donuts), enjoying these yummy donuts won't spike your blood sugar. If you ask nicely and call ahead, The Holy Donut will not only set aside a dozen vegan donuts (or any flavor) for you, but if you ask reallly nicely, they'll even customize a flavor on the menu to be vegan- just for you. Seriously, the customer service and desire to earn customer loyalty at this place is INCREDIBLE- just give them at least one days notice on your special order so they can make all your donut dreams come true.
Visit The Holy Donut at 194 Park Avenue, Portland, Maine- or check them out online here. Visit their facebook for the most recent updates, including info on their newly opened 2nd location on Exchange Street in the Old Port!