Chattanooga’s Julie Darling Donuts

To me, donuts are as quintessentially American as burgers and hot dogs. I know this is not particularly accurate as pastries made from fried dough covered in sugar are prevalent in many cultures but personally I think of the US when I think of donuts. I am sure that it has something to do with their presence in movies and TV shows that aired in England during the 80s and early 90s. (The classic donut-loving-overweight cop joke comes to mind.) And, donut shops were practically non-existent in the UK as opposed to the mass chains and local joints in every town and city in North America. When I arrived in 2003, all I had ever known of donuts were that they were filled with jam and came in packs of 10 at Tescos. Then I was introduced to Krispy Kreme and their hypnotic hot and ready light. (Ironically, a few months after leaving London, a store opened up in my old neighbourhood!) I was hooked for better and for worse; donuts would never be the same for me again and this love affair led me to seek out the best little sugary pillows at every turn.

I had the pleasure of visiting places like Gordoughs Donuts and Round Rock Donuts in Texas earlier this year, both of which were exceptional for different reasons. But for me there is only one donut shop that truly has my heart, and that is Julie Darling Donuts in Chattanooga, TN. Although they did not open until 2010 and were not a formative part of my first USA experiences as a Grad student, I cannot imagine downtown without their charming 50s throwback storefront. 

Chattanooga's Julie Darling Donuts

Not only do they offer the standard delicious flavours but my absolute favorite aspect of Chattanooga’s Julie Darling Donuts is their vast, creative and delicious specialty menu.

Chattanooga's Julie Darling Donuts

Donuts like Coconut Creme Pie, Pancakes and Bacon, Key Lime Pie, and Banana Split

Chattanooga's Julie Darling Donuts

To avoid eating several donuts in one sitting, and in order to be sure we enjoyed our much missed favourites, we had to figure out creative excuses to visit CJDD a couple of times this summer while on vacation in TN. And it was well worth the downtown detours.

Chattanooga's Julie Darling Donuts

Granny’s Apple Pie is exactly as you would imagine with warm spices, a hearty filling and even a little crusty crumb topping.

Chattanooga's Julie Darling Donuts

And the gourmet Oreo; soft, fluffy dough topped with rich chocolate fudge sauce and scattered crunchy creme-filled cookies.

If you ever find yourself in the North Shore/Coolidge Park neighbourhood, seek out Chattanooga’s Julie Darling Donuts on Frazier Avenue and don’t leave without trying their Pancake and Bacon Donuts. (Check their Facebook page before you go as they often have daily specials) You will not regret it!

Austin, the weird and wonderful!

Having formerly lived in London, and then more recently close to the (believe it or not) up and coming foodie city of Chattanooga, TN, getting used to the limited culinary options in Waco, TX has been quite an adjustment.  It’s not that there isn’t some lovely food here, it’s just that those places are few and hard to find. I truly believe Waco is a city at the beginning of a journey that will end with it being a budding hip town but that will probably not happen during our time here. As much as I love cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, I equally adore exploring and discovering new food joints and then introducing them to others.

Luckily, whenever the claustrophobia of Waco sets in, we have two great neighbouring food cities in Dallas and Austin for a fun occasional adventurous getaway. Although, the 2 hour drive is not something you can do for just an evening, it is comforting to know that these places are accessible even if just for the day. Recently, we had the joy of visiting Austin while my in-laws attended a conference. We drove down and spent the night with them and when they left the next day for their flight home, we ventured into the downtown area for some quick foodie fun. Austin is famous for many reasons but it is the city’s slogan that says it all; ‘Keep Austin Weird!’ and we were excited for our first real dose.

The first stop was at Franks on 4th and Colorado and for any of you hot dog fiends, this is a must visit if you come to the great city of Austin. We took a long time choosing what to order because every item was so unique and interesting (and this is after looking at the menu many times from home before we arrived!!) . We settled (and I really mean settled because we wanted to try everything!) on a couple that sounded too irresistible to miss. (My camera decided not to work that day so we had to take pics with our phone. Sadly they are not that great but I still wanted you all to get a glimpse of the magic!)

I ordered the Southern Belle; a blackened split Vienna Beef Polish link dressed with pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes, and Cajun remoulade and scallions.

Southern Belle, Franks, Austin

John ordered The Notorious P.I.G.; house made pork, bacon jalapeno sage sausage topped with mac n’ cheese, and Dr. Doppelganger BBQ sauce.

Notorious P.I.G. Franks, Austin

I have to say, I did suffer from a massive case of order-envy after I tried his. Not that mine wasn’t amazing but his was just the perfect unexpected interesting mix of well-matched flavours. The pure genius of their menu, including sides and drinks, ensures that Franks will always be an Austin favourite.

After this incredible lunch, we wondered down town a little further and took our chances on a food truck for dessert, Gordoughs Donuts on S.1st Austin St. One of the saddest parts of leaving East Tennessee was being so far  from my all time favourite donut shop, Chattanooga’s Julie Darling Donuts. Since moving to Texas, we have been hoping to eventually find something as good. Once more, we were enthralled by Gordoughs insane menu. With items such as the Boss Hogg, (covered in pulled pork, potato salad and honey bbq sauce!),  and Black Out  (brownie batter, chocolate fudge icing, chocolate covered brownie bites and chocolate syrup!), we knew we were in serious trouble again. We finally decided on trying two at the truck and then taking a couple back with us to Waco. This was a big mistake! We didn’t realize that their donuts are the size of your face! In fact I can safely say that the image of the donuts on their on-line menu is pretty much actual size! We ordered The Carney (apple pie filling, cream cheese icing with caramel and dry roasted peanuts), the PP&J (grape jelly filling with peanut butter icing and peanut butter morsels), the Flying Pig (bacon with maple icing)

Flying Pig, Gourdoughs, Austin

and a Black Out.

Black Out, Gourdoughs, Austin

Needless to say we really did bite off more than we could chew and didn’t quite get through the first two. But that’s what ‘to go’ is for right? What they are doing at Gordoughs is pretty crazy and unique. It didn’t quite replace my little retro Julie Darling in TN but I definitely recommend it at least once if you are visiting Austin. 

All in all, it was a fun escape from Waco and we can’t wait to visit Austin again sometime soon to experience more of their great city and awesome food. I don’t know if I could say everything we saw was weird but it is certainly a very unique town and extremely fun.