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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Enough donuts to feed a small army: The Underground Donut Tour recap

Take an inside look at a tour through four of Nashville’s most popular donut spots.
Donut+Distillery+served+up+a+dozen+donuts+to+the+tour+group.
Oghosa Omobude
Donut Distillery served up a dozen donuts to the tour group.

Despite the title, no, it’s not quite socially acceptable to eat enough doughnuts to feed a small army; however, if you feel particularly inclined to throw caution to the wind, the Underground Donut Tour has you covered. Each tour lasts anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours and includes doughnut tasting at each location, one drink for each individual at one of stops and, of course, a guaranteed sugar high. 

Parlor Doughnuts 

The first stop of the tour (which also doubled as our meet-up location) was Parlor Doughnuts. The franchise has two stores in Nashville, one on West End and one on Rep. John Lewis Way South; we met up at the latter. According to our friendly tour guide, Jason, Parlor Doughnuts was started by Derrick Hayden in 2019, with its first location opening in Evansville, Indiana. The company offers “regular,” gluten-free, vegan and doggie doughnuts. Their signature doughnuts are made with “layered” dough (think: cronut), and they have a wide range of flavor offerings, everything from “French Toast” to “Bourbon Caramel.” 

Parlor Doughnuts served up five donut flavors: lemonade, French toast, honey glaze, Sandy Beach and churro. (Hustler Staff/Oghosa Omobude)

At each doughnut stop, our tour guide cut the donuts in half and asked us to share with someone else. At Parlor, we were presented with five large donuts of different flavors: lemonade, French toast, honey glaze, Sandy Beach and churro. In an attempt to ward off a sugar rush one stop in, I decided to pace myself and only taste one doughnut here—the French toast doughnut—since our tour guide touted it as one of the company’s most popular flavors. The doughnut was soft and flakey, not at all “egg-y” as I expected due to its namesake and not overpoweringly sweet. The other members of my tour group seemed equally pleased with their flavor selections. This doughnut (and location) was hands-down my favorite. A more in-depth review of Parlor and some of their other doughnut flavors can be found here.

On our walks between each location, Jason kept us fed with tidbits about the Nashville scene and funny anecdotes from his other tours. If you were on this tour and just so happened to have a deep rooted desire to know which famous musician was temporarily banned from performing at the Ryman, now you’d know (it’s Johnny Cash).

Rise

A poster in the window of Rise Doughnuts showcases their variety of biscuit and donut options. (Hustler Staff/Oghosa Omobude)

Our second stop was Rise, a North Carolina franchise most known for their chicken and biscuits. Many of the “doughnut” options at Rise are actually made with their biscuit dough—not the most authentic if you’re a doughnut purist but still tasty in their own right. We tasted three menu items: their biscuit dough beignets, glazed blueberry biscuits and the white sprinkled doughnuts. The beignets come in mini-triangular shapes and although they were still a nice sweet treat, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that they somewhat disappointingly tasted like a powdered sugar biscuit. The glazed biscuits also tasted similar—like a confused breakfast biscuit with pockets of jelly; however, I expected this with these ones due to the name. The white sprinkled doughnuts (the only item we tasted not made with biscuit dough), although good, were a little too sweet, and just a tad underwhelming due to their familiarity, but their redeeming factor was the unbeatable softness of the yeast dough. 

D’Andrews Bakery & Cafe

The pastry selection at D’Andrews Bakery & Cafe features croissants and cinnamon buns. (Hustler Staff/Oghosa Omobude)

The third stop on the tour was D’Andrew’s Bakery & Cafe, a company owned and founded by David Andrews. Although they were out of the singular doughnut flavor that they usually offer, our tour guide grabbed three other desserts: a raspberry croissant, s’mores croissant and pecan cinnamon bun. The raspberry croissant was crunchy on the outside and flaky on the inside, with a fresh-tasting raspberry jelly filling. However, of the two desserts I tried, the pecan cinnamon bun was my favorite. The soft, rich dough paired well with a subtle cinnamon glaze and robust flavored pecans. Our group decided to grab our drinks at D’Andrews as well, so I ordered a vanilla chai tea latte with almond milk. For as much as I was a fan of the cinnamon bun, the latte managed to climb even higher. The spices weren’t overpowering and the milk was smooth and silky. The latte was an excellent palate cleanser as it wasn’t sickeningly sweet itself,  pairing perfectly with the sweet desserts.

Donut Distillery

Last stop on the tour was Donut Distillery, a small chain that began as a food truck founded by Shauna and Todd McCoy. Donut Distillery is also known for their adorable “mini” doughnuts, so the box for the dozen doughnuts we ordered looked unassumingly small. Our guide got six flavors: maple bacon, whiskey glaze, Dreamsicle, pink lemonade, Death By Chocolate and Fruity Pebbles. Most of the doughnuts seemed to be cake doughnuts with fluffy crumbly interiors. Of the five flavors I tasted, the maple bacon was my favorite with a subtle maple flavor and an abundance of bacon crumbles. I found myself wishing that the whiskey glaze donut was just plain glaze as the whiskey flavor was a bit overwhelming. The Death by Chocolate provided a tasty, chocolate crunchy topping. However, the donut did not seem to not live up to its name, as the dough itself was not chocolate flavored. The pink lemonade doughnut was very sweet with a tongue-twisting tart aftertaste, and the Fruity Pebbles doughnut tasted like what I expected: crunchy cereal adorning each soft bite of doughnut. 

After catching up with our tour guide, finishing off our last bites of doughnut and accepting the inevitability of an imminent sugar high (and crash), we ended with adorable “Underground Donut Tour” stickers and pins and went our separate ways. If you’re looking for a fun (and tasty) reward for finals or simply an excuse to shamelessly consume copious amounts of dessert, the Underground Donut Tour should be on your radar. You can book a tour on their website

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About the Contributor
Oghosa Omobude, Life Copy Editor
Oghosa Omobude ('24) is from Atlanta (kinda), Ga. and is a student in the College of Arts and Science. Although currently majoring in biological sciences with aspirations for medical school, she has interests outside of STEM that include fine arts, writing and DIY projects. She can be reached at [email protected].
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