Nestled innocuously between a shady motel and an even shadier consignment store sits a pinup girl perched on a doughnut. The woman-doughnut pair is part of the bubble gum pink exterior of Glam Doll Donuts – the 2605 Nicollet Ave. bakery in Minneapolis, MN’s Uptown that has become the destination for hipster pastry-connoisseurs of the upper Midwest.
Outside Glam Doll it’s noisy, honking, gabbing on an iPhone 2015, but step inside the doughnut shop’s doors and the quintessential charm of the 1950’s rules the day. The walls are the same shocking shade of pink as the exterior, asymmetrical furniture in every conceivable pastel hue populates the floor plan and there’s even a photo booth. Glam Doll’s the name, and whimsical is the game. It’s almost annoying how cute everything is, but decor aside, doughnuts are what they (meaning the line of patrons snaking out the door on this particular Sunday morning) came for.
A lime green display case at the front of the shop boasts plates upon plates of the delectable delicacies piled one atop the other in all their mouth-watering goodness. If a doughnut can be imagined, Glam Doll probably sells it. First are the types of doughnuts – ranging from raised ($1.50), filled ($3) and cake ($1.25)r creations to fritters, cullers and even vegan offerings. Next are the doughnuts themselves – with names like “Showgirl,” “Femme Fatale,” “Scream Queen” and ”Flirty Frenchie” – it’s difficult to decide what’s better: the name or the flavor adventure your taste buds are about to embark upon.
Clever monikers aside, the doughnuts can stand on taste alone. Options like “Starlet,” and “Darling” will satisfy traditionalists everywhere with their chocolate and vanilla-sprinkled goodness, while a safe bet for glaze lovers can be found in the “Sugar Kane.” Those wanting more variety need search no further than “Pinup Girl,” an apple bourbon fritter conglomeration, “Peek-A-Boo,” made with tres leches or “Girl Next Door,” a doughnut filled with the memorable combination of provolone and muenster. Another big theme at Glam Doll is bacon. Caramelized, crumbled, used in icing or added as a garnish – bacon is a Glam Doll staple.
But amongst this calorie-packed repertoire are a few doughnuts that stand out – the Beyoncé’s amid the rest of the pop stars, if you will. One is the aforementioned “Flirty Frenchie,” a cruller, or twisted cake doughnut, topped with delicate dollops of espresso cream cheese and a chocolate drizzle. It’s like eating a latte while looking at a dainty French pastry – highly weird and highly wonderful. “Night Moves” also tops the list, a dense cake doughnut with blackberry icing, brown sugar bits and a sizeable dollop of blackberry jam on top. It can be difficult to navigate around this gelatinous blob, but if spread around the whole of the doughnut the jam highlights the rest of the blackberry flavors, making the treat sing with tastiness. “Dark Angel” is the dark horse on the best of the best list. Looking like just another chocolate glazed doughnut, it appears relatively unmemorable. But one bite in and the vanilla bean crème and chocolate icing unite to arouse the senses, satisfying chocolate-addicts the world over.
Doughnuts are selected straight from the case with the help of the smiling servers, whose range of vibrant hair colors rivals even that of the nearly 40 doughnut varieties offered here. Pastel blue plates are proffered for those dining on location – genuinely or artfully chipped at the edges – red, pebbled plastic cups circa your grandma’s kitchen are available for water drinkers and a variety of coffee, tea and juice round out the shop’s menu.
The music played through hidden speakers was a forgettable blend of pop hits of today and yesterday, but Glam Doll’s true soundtrack can be found by listening to the candid blend of laughter, conversation and noises of general taste bud satisfaction reverberating in this Uptown oasis. A group of 30-something men carry on an intellectual discussion about the merits of the game Cards Against Humanity, twin girls juggling plates of three doughnuts each grin in anticipation of this tasty treat and mother and daughter snap a typical selfie with the sizable pastries covering each eye. It’s noisy, it’s eclectic and it feels like home.
If Glam Doll has any drawbacks at all they would lie in its sheer popularity. The shop is overflowing with patrons, making it difficult to find a seat, even with its open floor plan and additional outside patio. But this milieu of humanity – families, couples, first-timers and regulars – only adds to that unshakable feeling caught when the door first opened. It’s a feeling of coming home – leaving the hectic world behind for a little while in favor of some 1950’s whimsy, a cup of coffee and a doughnut.