I got the idea to do the birthday tour from this list: CLICK
I've attached the map of my route (at the end of this post) which went along with photos of the donuts we ate at each (in the order we ate them in).
A Baker's Wife
The two other spots on my list that we didn't get to were Chef Shack and The Donut Hut, both were closed (and we were relieved).
As a baseline I got a plain cake donut at each spot so that I could compare apples to apples, plus one other donut which was usually whatever they suggested in the City Pages article. I have included the prices along with my notes. (If I bash your favorite donut shop just know it's not my intent to to do so, I was just trying to find my favorite shop in the cities. Also, I thought every place had their merits but I had to use some kind of scale to narrow things down so I don't ever have to do this again :)
Granny Donuts, Robert Street, West St. Paul
(City Pages ranking #2 My ranking #1)
Apple Fritter $2.50, Plain cake donut .75, Lemon bizmark .80
The Hmong couple who own this place are so friendly and great. They gave us more to eat than we paid for and everything was so perfectly what it should be. The plain cake donut was light, the dough wasn't overworked, it had the slightest hint of spice to give it a profile other than just sugar, slight fried crisp on the outside and moist on the inside with just the right amount of sweetness. The apple fritter was perfect. This apple fritter is what every other apple fritter wants to be when it grows up. Chewy, carmely, crispy, moist, everything you want a fritter to be. Plus, you could eat off this thing for breakfast and finish it as lunch. The only criticism we had was that it could have used slightly more apple, but other than that it was perfect. We were given the lemon bizmark by the owners who insisted we try it because it was their favorite. We were so glad they did because it was luscious. Lightly fried with no glaze and the most amazing lemon curd filling. It was light and tart and just the right amount of sweet and it, like the other pastries was just quite perfect. If you want a donut shop that can service all your donut needs we highly recommend Granny Donuts.
Mojo Monkey Bakery, W. 7th St., St. Paul
(City Pages ranking #9 My ranking #6 out of 6)
Raspberry Brie Bizmark $2.59, Plain cake donut $1.59
I will never go here again. The plain cake was raw in the middle. And tasted more like a spice cake than a plain cake donut. And the bizmark, though I have to give them props for being able to taste the brie and raspberry, there was just way too much sweet glop on this thing. It was just a glob of sweet. Full disclosure: I was slightly biased against Mojo because of a couple of bad visits previously but I was willing to give them another shot. I think this place is mostly a marketing ploy that will play itself out very soon. They have a great name and logo, bad location, odd customer service business model and gimmicky donuts that are mostly not well thought out.
Mel-O-Glaze, Minnehaha Parkway, Mpls
(City Pages ranking #10 My ranking #3)
Plain cake donut $1, "Crispie" $2.00
The guy working the counter told us we were late. There weren't a ton of donuts to choose from by 12:30 or so but we were able to get a plain cake and one of their signature items, a "crispie." The plain cake was very good, slightly crisp on the outside, with the perfect dense to lightness dough ratio. It was sweet but not overly so and the flavor profile didn't bend in any strange direction, it tasted like a plain cake donut should. The crispie was super flakey and not too sweet. Not sure if I would get one of these again but it seemed like something my grandpa would have loved. Mel-O-Glaze is an institution in this part of south Minneapolis, having been around for 65 years. They know how to do donuts and you wouldn't be disappointed if you stopped in here for a sweet treat some morning.
A Baker's Wife Bakery, 42nd St., Mpls
(City Pages Ranking #1 My ranking #2)
Plain, cinnamon sugar, chocolate glazed cake donuts, all .50
Deciding between Mel-O-Glaze and Baker's Wife for #2 was difficult, they are kind of tied in my mind when it comes to the plain cake donut. I elevated Baker's Wife to #2 because of the rest of their offerings. This is a full service bakery with lots of other wonderful looking baked goods (cakes, loaves of bread, buns, brownies, cookies, etc). Plus, they serve good cold press coffee. Their plain cake donut was a perfect 10 in my book, slightly crispy on the outside with a nice fried taste (but not too greasy), sweet but not overly so, with a perfect light chew to the cake. I wasn't impressed with the chocolate glaze which just tasted sweet to me, but the cinnamon sugar version was nice and added a little complexity to the flavor.
Glam Doll Donuts, Nicollet Ave, Mpls
(City Pages Ranking #5 My ranking #5)
Chocolate cake donut $1.25, raised plain $2, Femme Fatale (raspberry crème filled bizmark) $3
I love Glam Doll, more for the marketing (pin-up girls!) than the donuts. I think their dough is usually overworked. This visit was better than my previous ones, the dough was slightly less tough. The cake donut had a good texture but the flavor was off, I could taste too much baking soda, which when eating the donut plain really stood out. When I took a bite with the chocolate frosting it was much better because the sweet of the frosting balanced out the bitter. Their chocolate frosting at Glam Doll is good. Generally their flavors are good I have to say. Unlike Mojo, when Glam Doll does interesting things to donuts they don't usually push it over the edge with mounds of filling and frosting, they get the flavors right and the balance of frosting-filling-donut. This was the case with the Femme Fatale which I would have never tried if the City Pages hadn't noted it as their choice for signature donuts. The raspberry crème had a vibrancy and just-right tartness to it that balanced perfectly with the sweet of the white icing. Though the dough was still slightly tough, it wasn't too bad and there was a nice amount of filling. The raised plain was a waste of stomach space.
Angel Food Bakery, 9th Street downtown Mpls, right next to Hell's Kitchen
(City Pages ranking #7 My ranking #4
DonaPart (cronut) $4.50, Plain cake $1.50, Lemon Bizmark $2.50
The European style pastry case with the glass front and multi-tiered plates full of beautiful pastries is the first thing you see when you walk in this place. It makes you want to try one of everything. But I couldn't wait to get my mouth around their version of the cronut (croissant fried up like a donut). I wasn't disappointed, their Donapart was delicious, flakey in that moist way that croissants are, crispy fried outside with a just-right sweet glaze. I want to go back to try their bacon maple version where they weave cooked bacon pieces in with the croissant dough, fry it and then glaze it with a thin maple frosting. The plain cake wasn't worth eating, but the lemon bizmark was delicious. Their filling was different from Granny's in that Angel Food does more of a lemon cream pie rather than a lemon curd. Angel Food does not scrimp on their filling either, with their bizmark you will get a bite of cream with every bite. I love that. I definitely want to go back to this place to try a few more of their pastries. As far as their donut dough goes, it wasn't anything to write home about, but I want to see if their other offerings show better. I'd go back.