The best town for donuts in New Jersey is 'America's Greatest Family Resort'
D'Ercole Donuts in Northvale offers a variety of fancy donuts for those with peanut and tree nut allergies. NorthJersey.com
You’ll never be hard-pressed to find a fantastic donut in Ocean City.
The only difficult part is deciding where to go.
In the 7 square miles in Ocean City, there are at least 10 donut shops worth raving about, and we've split them into three convenient categories: The Classics, Build-Your-Own and Bakery Bliss.
Ocean City is known as "America's Greatest Family Resort," but may we gently recommend a change to "America's Greatest Town for Donuts"?
Two legendary donut shops serve as bookends to the busiest parts of the Ocean City boardwalk.
On the southern side is Bob’s Grill. Open since 1928, Bob’s has just-made donuts sold from a window next to the main restaurant. You won’t find any newfangled donut combos here. Expect the classics: chocolate frosted, vanilla icing, cinnamon, glazed, chocolate with sprinkles, powdered and lemon. They’re soft, warm with dough that’s just sweet enough and toppings that don’t overwhelm you.
Bob’s is right next to the busiest part of the beach, and beach-goers often stop at Bob’s for a bag of donuts before hitting the sand. Bob’s also rents out bikes and surreys, so you’re likely to see an advertisement for its donuts on the bikes of peddlers riding down the boards. As if we needed reminding!
On the northern end, a bit apart from the bustle, is Brown’s — named our favorite donut shop in Cape May County. Brown’s was founded in 1976 by Marjorie and Harmon Brown. At the time, it only offered donuts. Now there’s a restaurant attached, and it’s run by their son Jim and his wife, Melissa.
Brown’s donuts are fluffy with a beautifully crisp outside and simply dressed with cinnamon sugar, honey, powdered sugar or icing. All of the toppings and dough are made in-house.
Customers seeking their donut fixes form form a line outside Brown's every single day, said manager Kelsey Ladd. But even folks at the end of the line are guaranteed a fresh donut. The conveyor belt turns out donuts straight from the fryer constantly throughout the day. No matter when you show up, your donut will be fresh and warm, the perfect treat to counter the chilly morning sea breeze.
Dot’s Pastry Shop is yet another classic, opened in 1947. The family-owned shop is on Asbury Avenue and is famous for its cream donuts. They’re moist, covered in velvety powdered sugar and filled with fluffy sweet cream.
Fractured Prune and Nauti offer cake donuts hot-from-the-fryer that you can customize with your choice of toppings. And both have melt-in-your-mouth donuts, with golden brown exteriors and steaming, fluffy insides.
These shops offer an experience; the chance to create your own perfect donut with glazes, icings and toppings on a delightfully cakey base. But if the choices overwhelm, you can always stick to the specialty combos. At Fractured Prune, those include Banana Nut Bread (banana glaze, cinnamon sugar and peanuts), Carnival (honey glaze with rainbow sprinkles), and Ms. Prunella (mixed berry glaze with cinnamon sugar). At Nauti, try the Salty Dog (maple icing, pork roll and salted caramel drizzle), Mermaid’s Delight (strawberry icing, fruity pebbles and marshmallow drizzle) or the PB & Jellyfish (glaze, raspberry jelly and peanut butter drizzle).
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These are the donuts whipped up by Ocean City bakeries, not dedicated donut shops, that are just as worthy of our praise. Drip N Scoop is popular not only for its high-quality coffee, but for its sweet and spicy apple cider donuts made with real apple cider. Toppings range from peanut butter cup and maple bacon to classics such as powdered sugar and cinnamon.
Up the street is Wards, a classic pastry shop, with display cases chock full of tempting pastries and rows of donuts behind the counter. We dare you to resist the fluffy cream donut, overloaded with airy buttercream.
The Asbury Avenue donut destinations continue with Cathy’s 14th Street Bakery (note, it closes for the season after Labor Day). During the summer, it cranks out gorgeous treats — from the cream donuts, split open and piped with sweet filling, to the shiny chocolate iced donuts packed with sprinkles to the light and airy glazed.
And, we have to mention Bashful Banana for our vegan friends. Though it doesn’t offer donuts every day, Bashful Banana sometimes whips up tasty rings of fried vegan dough. No animal by-products, no problem! You can still find a great donut in Ocean City.
Rebecca King is a food writer for NorthJersey.com. For more on where to dine and drink, please subscribe today and sign up for our North Jersey Eats newsletter.