On Saturday, November 10, I went on the Underground Donut Tour of Chicago. Tickets had been sold in advance by the student organization Psi Chi to Illinois Tech students for a discounted rate. The tour consisted of going to four donut locations and tasting donuts at each location, and, needless to say, it was quite the culinary experience. That Saturday morning was a crisp 22 degrees Fahrenheit, to which the coordinator Dennis Tran said in an email, “...you can also consume enough donuts to create another layer of insulating fat.”
The tour began by going to the French Market off of the Clinton Green Line stop. Seeing the French Market and all it had to offer was very interesting, but the donut shop’s fryer was broken, so we had to go to a replacement location. Our first real donut tasting experience was actually at none other than Do-Rite Donuts, the same company that supplies the donuts for Global Grounds in MTCC. Everyone was able to try a Buttermilk Old Fashioned donut; it was a simple, but sweet, way to kick off the morning. For context of how cold it was: the people who run the donut tour bought us coffees to make up for missing the first location, and those coffees became room-temperate to the touch within ten minutes.
The second stop on the tour was a place called Firecakes, which had my personal favorite donuts of the tour. We each got to try the Tahitian vanilla iced donut, which is a large, fluffy donut topped with vanilla frosting and white pearls (which, as us “Doctor Who” fans call them, edible ball bearings). The creaminess of the frosting combined with the light texture of the donut is why the Firecakes donuts were my favorite, and I definitely would go back there and get more donuts some day.
Following that, we headed to another place called Doughnut Vault, where, after standing in a line for quite some time, our patience was rewarded with even more donut delicacies. Not only did we get the donuts that were meant for the tour, but the workers at Doughnut Vault also gave us free specialty donut holes to make up for the long wait. The Doughnut Vault donuts tasted amazing, with a good balance of sweet and firmly textured.
The last stop on the tour was Stan’s Donuts. The donuts offered there were of the same build of pound cake, but with the taste and flavor of a rich donut. They came in two varieties, regular and banana. I tried the regular one and loved the syrup topping and overall consistency, and my friends who were also on the tour said the banana variety was equally tasty.
If I had to rank the places we visited based on personal taste preferences, I would say that Firecakes had the best donuts, followed by Doughnut Vault, Stan’s Donuts, then Do-Rite Donuts. However, all four locations had excellent donuts that are worth trying someday. Overall, I found this tour to be an extremely enjoyable, although not the healthiest, experience. If an Illinois Tech organization ever offers tickets for this again, I highly recommend that you take them up on the opportunity because the Illinois Tech tickets were significantly less expensive than the standard cost for the Underground Donut Tour.
Photo by Victoria Belotti (She/her)