After Portland's sometimes-vegan doughnut mecca, Voodoo Donuts, made a maple bacon doughnut, pretty much every doughnut shop with any sense jumped on the bacon bandwagon. Two local shops, Oink Café and Rainbow Donuts, have followed suit.
Using either a cake or raised doughnut base to paint on richly sweet maple glaze with smoky, salty bacon crumbles, it's easy to see why these have become such a phenomenon once you've had one. It's like a full breakfast flavor experience on one donut. But whose MBD is best?
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In This Corner: Oink Cafe
The Setup: The brightly painted interior is pretty standard for a breakfast spot, though Oink also serves lunch. The menu, as the name would suggest, specializes in all things pig-based, from sausage and pork to, of course, bacon. While Oink offers an array of Benedicts, pancakes, and sandwiches featuring bacon, we were there for one thing -- a maple bacon doughnut.
The Good: We were very close to disqualifying Oink Café on a technical foul: Its cake doughnut actually was more a crumb cake with a hole in the middle than a doughnut. We let it slide, though, and dug into the cinnamon-y, crumbly doughnut that's overloaded with crispy bacon chunks on top. If you have to ask if a bacon overload is a good thing, then you're reading the wrong blog.
The Bad: While the bacon was an ever-present flavor in each bite of Oink's doughnut, the maple was a little lost. We already mentioned the fact that its doughnut didn't really seem like a doughnut, although it was very tasty and unique take on the classic cake doughnut archetype. Plus $2.49 is a bit steep for one doughnut.
In The Other Corner: Rainbow Donuts
The Setup: With several locations around the Valley, all of which have a different menu and ownership, it's hard to know which Rainbow Donuts to go to for your maple bacon fix-- so call ahead! We stopped by the location off 51st Avenue and Thomas Road in west Phoenix, and we were met with friendly service, a classic doughnut shop vibe and a large case filled with different types of doughnuts, long johns, and crullers. The prices at Rainbow are so cheap, and the bar/café setup makes it feel like you're in another era of doughnut-y goodness -- a simpler time when you could munch on a few doughnuts while enjoying a cup of hot black coffee without any frills.
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The Good: Unlike Oink Café, Rainbow's maple bacon doughnut was much more maple-y in flavor with a much more pronounced glazing. Its $1.35 "fancy" raised doughnut was pillowy and chewy. We usually go for cake doughnuts, and its recipe for a raised doughnut is definitely one of the best we've had.
The Bad: Where's the bacon? With only a few bits of bacon sprinkled on top, we were left craving more of our favorite breakfast meat. If only Oink's bacon application could be combined with Rainbow's maple glaze.
And the winner is... Oink Café. Even though its crumb cake doughnut was almost too far of a stretch from the norm to really classify, the flavor of its cake and excessive use of crispy, freshly cooked bacon put it over the top to take the win. Try this doughnut!