Sweet tooths in D.C. have a variety of options to fulfill their donut cravings, so we put two popular donut shops to the test to get one step closer to finding the best donut shop in the District.
In this face-off, we’re measuring up the reliable favorite, District Doughnuts, and the new buzz-worthy kid on the block, Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, to find out which one reigns supreme. One offers delectable treats in an Instagram-worthy setting while the other caters to fried-food lovers looking for a sweet and salty flavor combination.
We’re on a mission to see which shop is crowned king of finals season to satisfy your late-night study cravings.
District Doughnut and Coffee, located at 3327 Cady’s Aly NW, is a leisurely five-minute walk from the Georgetown Waterfront Park, situated among artisan cafes, specialty bakeries and upscale boutiques.
Some of their donuts include classic cookies and cream, which was rich but not overwhelmingly sweet, Nutella Cream Bismarck with hazelnuts and a strawberry glazed ring donut.
Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken
Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, a hole-in-the-wall confectionary on 1308 G St. NW, is about a half-hour trek from campus but a convenient spot to grab a bite if you are embarking on a sight-seeing trip to the White House and D.C.’s historical monuments.
Alongside its fried chicken, Astro has donut flavors like creme brulee with a caramelized sugar top and cream filling, maple bacon sprinkled with smoked bacon pieces and cherry blossom frosted with a cream cheese glazed and filled with a tart red cherry jam.
Of the three donuts I tried at District Doughnuts, the cookies and cream was the tastiest. The Nutella Cream Bismarck was a close second with a gooey Nutella cream surprise on the inside, drizzled with chocolate and topped with a hearty sprinkling of hazelnuts. I’m not a huge Nutella lover, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Though I usually enjoy fruit-flavored sweets, the strawberry glazed donut tasted too much like artificial strawberry flavoring, and my palette was overwhelmed by a sickly sweet strawberry candy-like flavor.
Astro’s donut flavors were extravagant and inviting but a few missed the mark on flavor. I was really looking forward to trying the creme brulee donut because of its shell of sugar on top, but my experience was quite literally soured by the taste. I was pleasantly surprised to find vanilla pastry cream filling inside, but unfortunately, it seemed that the cream had gone bad by the time I ate it. The maple bacon donut was tasty but not memorable. I was intrigued by this savory flavor-combo, but the maple glaze overpowered the smoked bacon pieces on top. The cherry blossom donut definitely lived up to its hype as one of the shop’s most popular. Frosted with cream cheese glaze and filled with tart red cherry jam, I enjoyed the sweet and tart combination this donut offered. It was the prettiest of the four I tried, and chocolate and pink buttercream cherry blossom decorations only enhanced its appeal.
In terms of variety, District Doughnut takes the lead. Their delicious menu rotates seasonally, with their current spring menu featuring mouth-watering options like cherry blossom, Nutella cream, dulce de leche, creme brulee and lemon bar, to name a few.
Astro Doughnuts offers a niche option of fried chicken sandwiched between two “savory” old bay donuts, but their donut variety was limited to eight (albeit delicious) options: chocolate birthday cake, strawberries and cream, cherry blossom, creme brulee, PB&J, samoas, vanilla glazed and maple bacon.
While both shops do not provide indoor seating due to COVID-19 restrictions, District Doughnut’s Georgetown location afforded ample seating near Grace Street and the Potomac River at the Waterfront and alongside Cady’s Alley.
While I enjoyed sight-seeing the touristy spots along my walk to Astro Doughnuts, which is just east of the White House and Lafayette Square, the ongoing construction nearby paired with the widespread security measures around the White House definitely put a damper on the mood. Although you can grab your donuts and walk 15 minutes to enjoy them right outside the Washington Monument, there were virtually no tables or seating available within a one mile radius.
Both shops provided excellent customer service and offered creative options to expand your D.C. donut horizons.
But in my book, District Doughnut took the crown for its convenient location, pleasant ambiance and wide range of flavors. Astro Doughnuts is still worth a visit if you want to experiment with the unlikely pairing of fried chicken and donuts.