Despite all the cool places I’ve visited on my travels, Chicago Donut Shops is still my most popular post! So, when I moved to Tucson, I fully intended to replicate that post and tell you all the hot spots for donuts in Tucson. But guess what? Tucson donuts aren’t really a thing. Sure, we have donut shops in Tucson, but for the most part, they are all pretty much the same. I tried King Donut, Queen Donut, Donut Wheel, Alvernon Donuts, and they all reminded me of the 1980’s donut shops my dad would take me to before school. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s not post-worthy. Aside from the few that I list below, if you’re craving donuts in Tucson, just pick the closest one, which might even be a Dunkin’ Donuts.
In lieu of the best donuts in Tucson, I had to take it up a notch and expand my search to find the best Tucson bakeries. Tough job, I know! Got your stretchy pants ready? Here we go!
Batch Cafe and Bar
The one exception to all my donut comments above! Batch Cafe is primarily a whiskey bar (they don’t even open until 11 am, noon on the weekends!) but they offer a small selection of donuts made daily, in addition to a sandwich menu with a whole bunch of grilled cheese options. Their signature donut is called “The Stud” and has chocolate frosting, bacon bits and bourbon maple bavarian cream filling! I went with “The Homer” a classic donut with white chocolate frosting and sprinkles, plus a churro donut.
Batch Cafe and Bar, 118 E Congress, $4 for two donuts
La Estrella Bakery
If you’re looking for a classic Mexican bakery in Tucson, La Estrella is it! They have a huge assortment of baked goods, from classic donuts to Mexican specialties like concha and cookies. (I’ve heard their donuts are pretty amazing, but I could not bring myself to choose a donut over a concha.) They also sell fresh tortillas and other items like tamales and menudo. My concha, even in later afternoon, was still super fresh and delicious! This is Arizona, though, so be careful about stocking up on too much – things dry out in the desert air super quick! The original location is south of the city, and there is a new location in the Mercado San Agustin just west of downtown. (I hear the Mercado location also serves Mexican Hot Chocolate…you know, for when it drops below 70 degrees!)
(I “accidentally” ate the concha in my car and forgot to take a picture…oops!)
La Estrella Bakery – 2 locations – $1.60 for 2 pastries
Honorable Mention, Mexican Bakery in Tucson: La Palma Tortilla Factory – a good alternative if you’re on the north side and don’t have time to get down to La Estrella! Good breakfast menu, from sweet to savory!
You won’t be in Tucson long before you start hearing about Barrio Bread. Many local restaurants are proud to serve Barrio Bread, so you’ll see their name on many menus. If you visit the bakery on the East side of town, you will have some pretty delicious bread to choose from. This isn’t a cafe, it’s not a donut shop, it’s a bakery. You come in, you buy bread, you take it home. Then you eat the whole loaf. Just kidding. Maybe. Barrio Bread is the kind of place that sells out when they sell out, so if you have a specific thing you want, come in early! I sampled a mini-loaf of the pain au levain – it was delicious!
You can also check out Barrio Sandwiches weekdays at lunchtime, outside the Temple of Music and Art.
Barrio Bread – 18 S. Eastbourne Avenue – $3 for a mini-loaf, ~$6 for regular loaves
Located just east of downtown, not far from Barrio Bread, Nadine’s is the place to go for cakes, cupcakes and a million other kinds of baked deliciousness. Petit fours, pastries, cookies, bread, something called “European slices” that looks like a slice of fluffy frozen heaven, in several flavors. Nadine’s has been baking for Tucson for over 30 years and is fully kosher to boot – there aren’t many kosher bakeries in Tucson! Let’s just say it’s a good thing I don’t live closer, or this would be a regular stop for me and my sweet tooth. The prices are really good, too – so it’s easy to go a little crazy! I’ll take one of everything, please?
Nadine’s, Broadway and Swan, $3.00 for two single items
I did find one other unique place for Tucson donuts. Amy’s Donuts has a great mural on the outside and a bit of a divey feel to it – this is no fancy, hipster donut joint. They have a huge selection of funky flavors like Nutty Bar, Andes Mint, Banana Fudge and pretty much any kind of candy crunched on top of a donut. Amy’s is the place to come for fun flavors – and they are open 24/7 so anytime you get a craving, you can pop in!
Amy’s Donuts – Ft Lowell and Stone, $3-$5 for 2 donuts
Is there a Tucson bakery I need to add to my list? Tell me in the comments!