Las Vegas Sun

January 21, 2019

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Ben Vaughn: My four favorite donut shops in Las Vegas

Pink Box Doughnuts

Courtesy

A maple bar topped with bacon at Pink Box Doughnuts in Henderson.

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The Nutty Pig at Pink Box Doughnuts has much more than almonds and bacon on top.

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O Face Doughnuts.

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O Face Doughnuts.

I want to be serious for a minute. I have a rival. A nemesis. A bitter foe I’ll battle to the end.

Batman has The Joker. The Red Sox have The Yankees. Edison has Tesla. Miley has Nicki. All of them are fabled rivals who engage in epic struggles, transcending time and space.

For me, my nemesis is a food item. A food item so tempting, so dangerous, that we can barely be in the same room together. The name of my nemesis is donuts (or doughnuts, if you prefer formalities).

And what’s not to love and hate about donuts?

Donuts are deep fried battered balls of goodness. There are literally no redeeming nutritional components to donuts unless your doctor put you on a strict fat and sugar diet. Which if they exist, please feel free to point me to this doctor. They are truly a pioneer of modern medicine.

Cake donuts, pink donuts with sprinkles, maple donuts, chocolate-covered Boston Creme donuts, powdered sugar covered donuts, they’re all equally amazing ... and bad. Evil, haunting, tempting, sweet, fried, horribly amazing donuts.

The entire donut process is bittersweet. You go into the donut shop, and there they sit. All hot and fresh. Notable donut death merchant Krispy Kreme even plays on this impulse by sticking a neon sign in the window to let you know exactly when this “hot and fresh” moment has occurred.

Like a fly to the bug zapper, you’re drawn in for the kill. But I digress. There they sit in racks or behind a glass counter, all unique in their individual charms. You choose them like an NFL commissioner drafts players, some to fill an immediate need, others as a long-term gamble you’ll want to take later.

And quantity? Sure, you could leave with just one, but a dozen, that’s how they’re known. The insanity makes perfect sense at the time of purchase. I could buy a few, or I could just pay a couple dollars more and get 12! “Of course I need 12 donuts” runs through your mind. Now crack open that big box, and let’s get pickin’!

We all have our food weaknesses. A food nemesis is one step beyond a weakness. A food nemesis seemingly actively works against you and your fight for a healthy life and trim waistline. A food nemesis is one thing that makes a life of trying to limit the bad and maximize the good so difficult. A mere weakness you can control. A food nemesis fights back.

There’s something liberating and limiting when it comes to your particular food foe. Yours may not be donuts. For you, it might be Pumpkin Spice Lattes or McRibs. It doesn’t matter. We won’t judge. We’ve all been there.

If you can win a battle against your nemesis, you feel liberated and excited. You’ve stared into the eyes of the abyss, swung back and said, “Take that, donuts! Today I'm eating yogurt.” But with that liberation comes the feeling of limitation. Doubt starts to creep into your mind.

You question yourself, your choices in life and all of the events that unfolded that have now left you in this solemn place where the kind lady behind the counter is looking at you with patient confusion as you try to self-negotiate an apple fritter into your life.

The only advice I have for you is to keep swinging. You may never conquer your nemesis. And, quite honestly, you would probably be pretty sad if you did. Life is about the fight.

Remember that we’re all in this together. Don’t give up, but you can give in, maybe a little, then 10 extra minutes for you on the treadmill.

And while we’re on the topic of donut shops, if you’re not a connoisseur like me, maybe you want a few suggestions about the best places to go here in Las Vegas.

Pink Box Doughnuts, 7531 W. Lake Mead Blvd., @PinkBoxDoughnut

If you haven’t been charmed by the Pink Box sitting on a table at a morning meeting or some other breakfast event, then you haven’t lived. A Las Vegas landmark with a reputation a mile long, Pink Box Doughnuts showing up on a list like this should not come as a surprise.

At Pink Box, they have your traditional options that always hit the spot, but they trade on their “gourmet” options. They’re always adding and innovating. Be sure to try the Fat Elvis, Cookies N’ Cream and Blueberry Cronut.

O Face Doughnuts, 124 S. 6th St., Suite 140, @OFaceDoughnuts

The worst-kept secret about Downtown’s O Face Doughnuts is to get the Mexican Chocolate with Horchata Pudding (aka the El Guapo). It’s on their “Fork & Knife” selections, which are large and house specialties. I prefer the Maple Bacon at O Face to the one at Pink Box, but, honestly, I’m just splitting hairs. They’re both fabulous.

The pro tip for O Face Doughnuts is to get there early. They’re open into the afternoon, but when the options are gone, they’re gone. Get ’em early, and get ’em fresh.

Donut Tyme, 4268 E. Charleston Blvd.

While O Face has a beautiful, hip and trendy storefront, Donut Tyme is a much more simple existence. But if you know me, you know that simple is not a slam. It’s a compliment. If you can do simple well, then you are really on to something.

Donut Tyme harkens to the old-time donut shop. They don’t bog you down with a bunch of trendy donuts with crazy toppings and fillings (although they do have specials from time to time). It’s not about tomorrow’s donut. It’s about the donut that you already know and love.

They are open 24 hours a day and have a mean cup of coffee. Some might argue that the best donuts are the ones you eat at 3 a.m. Who am I to argue with this sage logic?

Coco Donuts, 10040 W. Cheyenne Ave., Suite 145

They make a quality donut here at Coco Donuts. If you’re looking for the best option for the best price, then Coco is your place. Notable options here are the Red Velvet, French Cruller and often under-appreciated Blueberry Cake.

The Blueberry Cake donut is a staple at every donut shop across the land, but at Coco’s, they make a supremely moist and sweet version — but not too sweet where the sugar overpowers the fruit of the berry.

Those are my favorites. What are yours? Let me know in the comments.

Ben Vaughn is a chef, author and TV personality widely known as a host for the Food Network. Ben’s just-released book, “Southern Routes,” chronicles his journey to find the best-kept food secrets in the South from the Carolinas to Texas. “Southern Routes” is published by HarperCollins.

Ben resides in Tennessee and serves as CEO and culinary director for his restaurant group Fork Knife Spoon. Ben’s new brand of Southern Kitchen food trucks hit the streets in Las Vegas. Follow all the action from the mobile kitchen @SoKitchenLV. @BenVaughn also is the host of “The Breakfast Show,” a TV series that premieres soon.

Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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