The 5 Best Donuts in St. Louis (A Local’s List)

best donuts st louis

At the beginning of my college career, I worked at a Dunkin Donuts near the Mag Mile in Chicago. This job was great in the way that I got offered it as soon as I interviewed, my manager and coworkers were kind to me, and we were allowed all the free coffee we wanted.

(It was also directly next door to my dorm so all I had to do was roll out of bed and grab my french vanilla scented apron and visor, and I’d be ready for the grueling hours of saying “By regular coffee do you mean black or do you mean cream and sugar? Please. Please don’t just say regular.”)

The downside of this job, besides waking up at four a.m. most days, was that I practically lived off of the free doughnuts for an entire year. This has permanently scarred my interest in the fan favorite breakfast item.

So when I say a doughnut is good, I’m not just saying it’s enjoyable — I am saying that the doughnut is so good that it has crawled its way through my inherent repulsion and that this doughnut has single handedly beat back all the memories of my capitalism-induced doughnut trauma.

These doughnuts are the best in all of St. Louis, Missouri, if only because when I eat them, I do not think about that job at all.

Map of the best donut shops in St. Louis

Best Mom-and-Pop Donuts: John’s Donuts

Listen, I love a mom-and-pop shop. I grew up in a small town across the river of six hundred people and though I have lived in several major cities across the world now, I know my roots, and my roots are small town vibes all the way.

John’s Donuts has been wowing customers in the city since it opened in 1982. A family-run organization, John’s centers around one premise and one premise only: delicious, fresh doughnuts. The simplicity of this isn’t a gimmick but instead is steeped in genuineness that each customer feels the moment they see that big yellow awning.

Right before the COVID-19 Pandemic shut most of the city down, John Pearcy, the owner of the aptly named John’s Donuts, changed their traditional overnight hours to become a daylight operation. Now, you can get a donut from 4am to 12pm six days a week. The eclectic decorating, the fresh taste, and the friendly service are just a few reasons to try out this STL staple.

My order? The Apple Fritter. I would die for this Apple Fritter. If I had the political power of a thirteenth century king, I would go to war for this fritter. Thankfully for John and his family, I don’t, and I will instead just keep buying one a week as my reward for living in the same city as this great place.

Best Donut Tarts: Donut Drive-In

I’m going to be real honest with you. This whole career as a writer? It’s all been a long con. I actually don’t care about writing. What I care about is the Donut Drive Thru Vanilla-Iced Cream-Cheese Tart. This has all just been me carefully waiting for an opportunity to scream on a platform about this doughnut. It is the thing that matters most to me in my life.

Okay, I just remembered that their Lemon Tart exists, too, and now I have two things that matter to me.

I’m not alone here, by the way! The River Front Times listed this place as the best doughnuts in the city!

The thing that makes Donut Drive In so classic, outside of its big, neon sign that I think oh I would look so cute with a photo right there, every time I drive past it, is that the doughnuts are always fresh and always, always delicious.

Open six days a week, Donut Drive Thru offers extended hours, an honestly to die for menu, and a drive thru so no one even has to see you in your pajamas when you get that good, sweet fried dough craving.

Best Unique Donuts: Strange Donuts

Strange Donuts lives up to its name. Unlike the other shops listed here, this place boasts interesting, fun, and quirky doughnuts alongside the classics. They offer a monthly menu, accessible on their website or social media accounts, and rotate these to include seasonal delights, regional favorites, and even gluten free and vegan options.

Located in several places in the Greater STL area and with extended hours, this is also a great option for anyone looking for a convenient, delicious fried treat. Though the price point is higher than some of the others on this list, the quality and ingredients of the doughnuts make the difference — hello, the Maple Bacon Donut, anyone?

New to the region? You’ve got to try the Gooey Butter Creation. Gooey Butter Cake is an ooey, gooey delicious accident that one brave, trendsetting St. Louis baker created when royally messing up a coffee cake almost a hundred years ago. This is the first thing I shove to friends when they visit from far away — and, yes, okay, it nearly killed my friend from London, England, who had never looked that much butter and sugar in the eye before, but it also made her a better, more dynamic person. I’m confident. And now, oh, now — you can have that glorious bastardization of a cake in a doughnut and god, I love the Midwest.

Go to Strange Donuts, order a dozen of these, and let yourself live a good, happy, buttery life. I know you deserve it.

  • Address 1 (Maplewood) 2709 Sutton Boulevard, Maplewood, MO 63143
  • Address 2 (Kirkwood) 107 East Argonne, Kirkwood, MO 63122
  • Address 3 (Creve Coeur) 11477 Olive Boulevard, Creve Coeur, MO 63141
  • Address 4 (Edwardsville) 2323 Plum Street, Edwardsville, IL 62025
  • Website: Strange Donuts

Best Classic Donuts: World Fair Donuts

This one is open seven days a week, guys. And also, let us not ignore how cute their dang website is. It’s very cute! The little delivery options dance! I am a Media Babe first and foremost, and I will not deny that I am swayed by a good website.

Okay, website fangirling aside, this place rocks, pals. First of all, the story is heartwarming. When the mom-and-pop shop closed down in 2019 after the unexpected death of their son, the owners reached out to Jason Brockman of Strange Donuts fame. Brockman then bought the place, promising to keep it the same, and reopened this locally loved establishment to great success.

The premise that Brockman kept is endearingly simple: one dollar if you are in person, two if you get it delivered. Knowing that I can bring exactly the amount of dollars I need to order what I want is something that appeals to my poor, smooth brain.

Boasting the same recipe for 87 years, World Fair Donuts knows better than to mess with perfection.

Like many other STL local places, the doughnut shop is a cash only establishment, and only large enough for a few customers at a time to wait. This helps with the constant flow of traffic, people from all over the city darting inside for a box or two for a midweek pick me up or an end of the week celebration.

If you’ve got the time and a dollar bill, drop in and pick up one of their signature chocolate glazed doughnuts. You won’t regret it.

Best Downtown STL Donuts: Pharaoh’s Donuts

Until a year ago, I had never had Pharaoh’s Donuts. I had never had the warm, fresh from the oven vanilla and chocolate long johns that now haunts my every dream, a beautiful visage of a world that’s better (i.e., sugar and cream filled).

Pharaoh’s Donuts has been a family-run and operated business for over twenty years in downtown St. Louis but as I am not a sports fan nor a parking masochist, I rarely make it down to the main part of the city, events, parking tickets, and bi-annual attempt at watching a Cardinal’s game non-withstanding.

But Pharoah’s Donuts’ owner Amon Aziz somehow knew this and fixed the issue for me by opening a second location in the Central West End.

Situated in the popular CWE, there’s now no longer any reason to prevent me from looking divinity in the eye as I order a dozen donuts from whichever friendly, non-judgmental staff member is working the counter of the new space.

Also, if you’re only in town for a little while and can’t make Pharoah’s a weekly stop, you have got to get the cheesecake doughnut. Don’t think about it… just trust me. You can thank me later.

  • Address 1 (Downtown) 202 N 9th St, St. Louis, MO 63101
  • Address 2 (Central West End) 8 Maryland Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63108
  • Website: Pharaoh’s Donuts

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