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Doughnut Vault

Restaurants, Cafés River North
5 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(6user reviews)
DoughnutVault.venue.jpg (Photograph: Martha Williams)
Photograph: Martha WilliamsButtermilk old fashion doughnut at Doughnut Vault
 (Photograph: Wendell Remington)
Photograph: Wendell RemingtonDoughnut Vault

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

“Excuse me, do you know what this line is for?”

“It’s for doughnuts,” I said, humiliated. I was waiting in a line 50 deep for a food most often preceded by the word Dunkin’.

“Are they that good?”

Before I could answer, the lady in front of me brushed aside her long blond hair and turned to face us with a look of exasperation: “They are.”

This was Doughnut Vault: the minuscule, chandeliered vestibule (capacity: approximately four) from which doughnuts appear Tuesday through Saturday at 8:30am, only to disappear just as ephemerally approximately 12 tweets and 90 minutes later. Currently, 750 are made each day, 900 on the weekend. There is no question the rounds of fried dough that emerge from this shoebox—the creation of the restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff (Gilt Bar, Maude’s Liquor Bar)—are as good as any doughnut being made in Chicago. The problem is they’re better.

“Stupid!” The Dance editor of Time Out Chicago is not one to raise his voice. “Stupidly good. The über–Krispy Kreme.” He held a chestnut-glazed doughnut, as fresh as one has ever come. I waited exactly 56 minutes for it. After the first 15 of those minutes, the couple behind me left for Sprinkles. The rest of us read novels. We played with dogs. We pretended we knew this was worth it.

I, for one, did not know. Not until I took my box of doughnuts to a bench and let my hands and face fall prey to the sticky, airy perfection that is a Doughnut Vault glazed doughnut. Do I wish the glazed doughnuts were less grotesquely large, and less than $3, and less demeaning to purchase? Yes. But I will ask no such things.

Download a podcast. Bring a long-lost friend. Get there at 8:30am. This is the doughnut we’ve been waiting for.

By: Julia Kramer



Address: 401 N Franklin St
Cross street: at Kinzie St
Transport: El stop:Brown,Purple(rush hrs)to Merchandise Mart.Bus:65,125,156.
Price: Average doughnut: $3
Opening hours: Tue–Fri 8:00am–sold out, Sat 9:30am–sold out (closed Sun-Mon)
Do you own this business?

Users say (6)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

Definitely one of the best doughnuts I have ever had. So delicious and worth the wait. My favorite is the cookies and cream!

The best doughnuts in the city. I've had a lot of doughnuts in my time.  The old fashioned doughnuts are amazing. They are light and fluffy dough with excellent icing. The almond old fashioned from the vault van is one of my favorites. If you are at the brick and mortar store - the jam filled is also amazing. They are huge! So anticipate sharing unless you want to go into a sugar coma.  Finally the chocolate glazed doughnuts are also showstopping awesome. They  used to have gigantic doughnut holes. I haven't been recently so  if they still have the holes get them.  Ah so good. Also the $1 coffee is still great!  Intelligentsia with the doughnuts are a fabulous combination. Yes remember it's cash only. They are worth the wait.  If you want to get them, I would recommend going on a weekday to the store, fewer people to wait in line, and  finding the van on a weekend. 

The best is debatable, but they are very good. I waited in line for 15 minutes which isnt as bad as some stories I heard but they items left were a bit picked over. I ended up having a vanilla bean and chocolate that were both pretty good. 

moderatorStaff Writer

The old fashioned doughnuts here are likely the best in Chicago, but if you're lucky enough to end up here on a day the pistachio glaze is on the menu then you'll get to try the best doughnut in Chicago. I always forget this spot is cash only, so be sure to hit up an ATM before jumping in line.

Why would anyone need a vault for their doughtnuts.  It is important to eat them before they get as hard as a hockey puck.  But a vault?; maybe their doughnuts are that good.  I guess I won't know until I can get to the vault to sample their wares.