Donna's Donuts is the only donut shop I enter actually hoping that the donuts I want are not available. Your first thought is probably that it reduces temptation, but that's not it at all. When I make my twice-weekly early morning appearance, I scan the shelves for honey dipped, raised frosted and Boston Creme, and whichever of the three is not there is the one I order. That's because—unlike the national behemoth whose catch phrase "Time to make the donuts" really means "Time to unload the already-old factory made donuts from the truck"—Donna's Donuts cuts and cooks their donuts by hand, on site, in small batches. This ensures a hot product if you're lucky enough to time it right or patient enough to wait it out for 15 minutes or so. These donuts are big, full of flavor and often heavy, the way donuts used to be.
Here's a run-down of the ones I've tried:
Plain: These are heavy cake donuts—order a dozen of these and you'll need help carrying the box. Flavor is good, texture is akin to how I like my burgers and how I like my ribs: crispy on the outside, soft as can be inside. Slightly greasy, but in a good way. No "plain donut aftertaste" here. These are fun to peel the outer layer off and eat the inside separately.
Honey dipped: These are big, puffy and soft, like a slightly smaller version of a life preserver. They're heavy on the dip, which is strongly sweet but not chemical-tasting at all. Much lighter than they look. Their freshness holds up very well, lasting the day without much compositional change. But more than any of Donna's offerings, the honey dipped are elevated to otherworldly status when sampled in the early hours right after they emerge from the kitchen: steaming hot, fluffy, ever so slightly greasy (again in a good way), delicate enough to melt in your mouth and almost light enough to order two.
Raised frosted: Made from the same raised donut as the honey dipped, these lose the dip in honey and instead receive a ring of chocolate (and that chocolate is pretty tasty). The raised frosted are even lighter than the honey dipped, with an interior that's downright fluffy. Like the honey dipped, these are also fantastic right out of the kitchen, when the base is soft and that ring has a blinding sheen from the frosting that's wet and hot. (Try one and you might get wet and hot.)
Plain frosted: Same as a raised frosted, only with a plain donut. This one's heavier, but the raised one's better.
Chocolate honey dipped: I like this one more for texture than flavor, but I like it. There's less of a pure chocolatey flavor here, instead verging into red velvet territory. This is another good one to peel off in layers. That outer shell has a nice crunch and is a little more greasy than the rest. One layer down is a fudgy inner ring; the deepest part is fluffy cakey. The chocolate honey dipped also has good lasting power throughout the day.
Boston Creme: The filling is both thicker and looser than your everyday Boston Creme, and that chocolate topping is also a step up. Note that this one has less lasting power than the rest. But when it's hot (and the still-wet dark chocolate has that tell-tale sheen), the Boston Creme might just rival the honey dipped for best of the rack. In such cases, it's still super delicate and a little wobbly from bearing its own weight.
Jelly Creme: This one combines raspberry jelly and what I'm guessing is vanilla frosting (it's not quite cream). I love that these don't have the granules of sugar all around the outside like a typical jelly donut. I also love the combination of the jelly, the "creme" and the outer shell when you manage to get all three in the same bite, but I don't love that the feat is rare. These have low lasting power, so be sure to order them only in the early hours.
Apple: The only square donut and one of my favorites, this one has all of the same positive characteristics of the honey dipped, plus greater size and an apple filling. Note that the apples are more tart and less sweet here.
Cheeseburger: That's right, I said cheeseburger. But there's no beef or cheese involved. Perhaps Donna's best known item is the cheeseburger donut, made exclusively from donut parts. The "bun" is a raised donut, separated into two halves. The "beef" is half of a chocolate honey dipped donut. The "cheese" is custard normally used in the Boston Creme. Look at it from a foot or more away and it looks like a real burger. But this is more than a novelty; it's a good tasting donut in its own right. There are similar creations that mock meatball subs and cheesesteaks.
Donut holes: Available in chocolate, raised and cake, these are slightly larger and much glossier than their mote famous counterparts at that similarly initialed national chain, but aren't as memorable as the donuts at Donna's Donuts.
Muffins: More than a dozen varieties are available, served as mini loaves, some frosted. Like the donut holes, they're pretty good, but why get pretty good muffins and donut holes when you can get great donuts?
The Bottom Line
These are donuts the way they used to be and the way all donuts ought to be now, so get over there for a take-me-back experience. If you get there early you might just have a religious experience.
Yelp reviews of Donna's Donuts
Urban Spoon reviews of Donna's Donuts