Remember the scene in Elf when Buddy stumbles onto a little diner that has a neon sign that says “World’s Best Cup of Coffee?” The naive elf walks in and yells “You did it!” to a confused group of patrons and staff.
I was so tempted to yell “You did it!” when I got up to the window to place my order at World’s Best Donuts, but I refrained.
If you’ve ever been up to Grand Marais, chances are you’ve stopped there before. Or you’ve at least seen the sign of the little red building claiming to be the best donuts in the world. When a place names itself that — even if it’s tongue-in-cheek — the donuts better be good.
Thankfully, the donuts at World’s Best Donuts are good. I’d even say they’re great. But are they truly the world’s best? I wouldn’t go quite that far…
I made my first voyage to World’s Best Donuts this summer when my family and I went camping on Minnesota’s North Shore. We were camping in Tettegouche State Park, about an hour north of Duluth. That also meant we were about an hour from Grand Marais — and World’s Best Donuts.
I’d only been to Grand Marais once before, and it was during the winter while I was skiing in Lutsen. That meant I’d never been there when World’s Best Donuts was open, as it’s a seasonal shop. I’m not sure exactly when they open and close every year. This year, their final day was Oct. 22 (which means I probably should’ve written this review earlier…).
Before I get into the donut scene in Grand Marais, I thought I’d make a general comment on the town itself: it’s charming. We spent the better part of a day here, eating lunch at the Fisherman’s Daughter, grabbing flights of beer at Voyageur Brewing Company, and bumming around at the many little shops in town. (Drury Lane Books, an independent book store right next to World’s Best Donuts was awesome. I’d recommend stopping in.) But for me, the highlights of our visit was the donuts.
Of course, World’s Best Donuts was our first stop when we arrived in Grand Marais. Donuts are the breakfast of champions, I always say. So we started our day with some sugary goodness.
World’s Best Donuts specializes in cake donuts, which was music to my ears. I went with a glazed cake donut, a sugar cake donut, and something called a Skizzle. I had no idea what a Skizzle was before going here, but now I can’t stop thinking about them.
What is a Skizzle, you’re wondering? The website for World’s Best Donuts defines it as “a sweet, yeast dough stretched out and deep fried.” It’s thinner than a donut and is dusted with sugar. It’s served fresh, so mine was nice and warm when I got it.
It was heavenly.
My wife and I both got one, and I seriously contemplated getting back in line to order one more. This was definitely the best thing I ate there, and I will 100% get two of them if I make it back up to Grand Marais. If you’re stopping at World’s Best Donuts, be sure to get a Skizzle (or two…or three). The cake donuts were great as well, but they didn’t quite compare to the Skizzle.
World’s Best Donuts also serves coffee, and sells a few souvenirs — I picked up a window decal for my car. They don’t have the biggest variety of donuts, but they don’t need it. The donuts they do offer are great. Why mess with success?
I’m not ready to declare World’s Best Donuts as the world’s best donuts, nor are they Minnesota’s best donuts (that would be Cardigan Donuts). But I’d put World’s Best Donuts in my top 5 in the state, maybe even top 3.
It’s too bad Grand Marais is a bit of a drive to get to, otherwise I’d be getting a Skizzle every week.