401 1/2 N. Franklin St.
Chicago Illinois 60654United States
Doughnut Vault opens when the doughnuts are ready, closes when they're sold out, and in between, the masses are more than happy to wait in line for the pastry privilege.
Doughnut Vault is to doughnuts what Hot Doug's is to hot dogs and what Kuma's Corner is to burgers. They take the age-old concept of a popular good (in this case, fried dough), add a gourmet spin (and price tag) and poof! We, the masses, can't get enough of it. This tiny room (a former bank vault, hence the name) has done pretty consistent business since opening in early April 2011. The concept, which is the brainchild of restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff, the force behind Gilt Bar (located next door) and Maude's Liquor Bar, opened up the eyes of Chicagoans to just how good a doughnut can be. That's why we're willing to stand in a line 60-people long at 7:30 a.m., awaiting Doughnut Vault's 8:30 a.m. opening (Tuesday through Friday, and open at 9:30 a.m. Saturday). If you don't get there early, you're out of luck. Doughnut Vault makes 500 to 600 doughnuts each day (more on Saturdays) and limits customers to a half-dozen each. When they sell out, usually within about an hour, they close. The Doughnut Vault menu is limited, and the fried puffs are pricey: $2 for a buttermilk old-fashioned, $3 for a stack of three small gingerbread, $3 for chocolate-, vanilla- or chestnut-glazed (the Metropolitan coffee, however, made via French press, is delicious and only $1). Skip the old-fashioned, but snatch up a glazed chestnut with fluffy dough and maplelike glaze. It may well be the best doughnut you've ever tried in your life. Be sure and grab the gingerbread, too (for dessert, of course). The small, cinnamon-rich cake doughnuts have just the right amount of ginger and make for the perfect finish. It's hard to say the best time to go to Doughnut Vault, but there is help. We follow @DoughnutVault on Twitter, and they're pretty good about updating the length of line and number of remaining doughnuts, clueing us in to the best time to visit.