What, exactly, is a donut? At The Daily Meal, we define a donut as an item that you would expect to see in a donut shop: the familiar ones we know and love (of both the raised and cake varieties), like crullers, apple fritters, and other donut-shop classics — you know them when you see them.
So, in order to assemble our most-recent ranking of the 25 best in the country, we more than doubled the number on the previous list from the year before. We stuck to strict criteria in looking for the best individual donuts in America: Freshness is key; are these legendary donuts — ones that inspire cultish devotion to the shop that sells them? We considered both plain glazed and extravagantly topped creations, but there needs to be a balance between all the components, be it bacon or blueberry jelly. Most importantly, these donuts need to be almost too good: fresh, soft, gooey, perfectly proportioned, and intended to leave you wanting just one more bite. There were over two dozen we believed deserved to be included on our list, and as it turns out, one can be found in Washington, D.C.
GBD (short for "Golden Brown and Delicious") was opened in 2012 by the husband-and-wife duo of chef Kyle Bailey and pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac, and they raised the bar when it comes to D.C. donuts. Open from early in the morning to very late at night, they serve some insanely delicious fried chicken, but the crowds flock for the donuts. With a brioche base and the deft hand of a truly skilled pastry chef, available varieties include grapefruit Campari, coffee cake, and peanut butter and jelly, but the award goes to the square maple-bourbon glazed donut topped with crumbled bacon. Airy, sticky, and perfectly balanced, the bacon is no gimmick: it perfectly complements the maple and bourbon and makes for a truly craveable donut.
It’s so good, it made it to #25 on our national list, and since it’s the only one from the city to make our ranking, it’s also the title winner of the best donut in Washington, D.C.