Cool Chicago: The Doughnut Vault


COOL CHICAGO: The Doughnut Vault
Tiny store where locals and tourists wait in line to purchase giant $3 gourmet donuts
: Near North Side
Address: 401 1/2 N. Franklin St.
Cost: $2-3 per donut
Best for: Gourmet donut fans, those who worship the “birthday cake” donut

Is any donut worth waiting in line for an hour? The answer is yes to many Chicagoans and tourists who stop at the Doughnut Vault each morning for flavors like pistachio, gingerbread, powdered sugar, mocha glazed, lemon poppy seed, pineapple, birthday cake, and carrot cake. Only a handful of these flavors are available each day, so you never know what you’re going to get unless you follow the Vault on social media.

cash only

blueberry donut

Created by Brendan Sodikoff, who also operates Gilt Bar, Au Cheval, and a number of other restaurants around town, the Doughnut Vault is one of my favorite Chicago food options. Where else can you get a chocolate sprinkle donut the size of your face? The blueberry old-fashioned donut in the center is about standard size. Compare that to the glazed and chocolate donuts. They’re all soooo delicious.


Because the Doughnut Vault is located in such a small storefront, you’ll most likely have to wait in line for a while if you go during peak hours. If you’re having trouble finding the place, just look for the line down the street.

doughnut vault line

Once inside, you’ll see why the line is so long: Because this place is tiny. The store is located inside a former bank vault (hence the name “Doughnut Vault.” See what they did there?) There’s room for less than a dozen people inside.

doughnut vault interior

vault trays

The Doughnut Vault makes its snacks fresh every morning, and once they’re gone, they’re gone. The store opens at 8 am from Tuesday through Friday and at 9:30 on Saturdays. Follow the store’s Twitter page for constant updates on how many of each flavor remain and how long the line is.

Would you wait in line for giant donuts?

For more Cool Chicago sights, check out the Bloomingdale Trail and the Green Mill jazz club!


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About Scott Shetler

Scott is a Seattle-based journalist and blogger who puts a quirky spin on travel adventures around the world. He has been featured in Travel + Leisure, Connect Magazine, Matador Travel, and the Washington Post.

18 comments on “Cool Chicago: The Doughnut Vault

    • Hey Jess, cupcakes are huge in Chicago, so that’s a good thing to check out too. You could have gotten donuts and cupcakes both, then spent the rest of the day spinning around the city on a sugar high. That might have been fun 🙂

      • That sounds like an excellent way to see the city, actually. Sadly, the sister I was visiting is a vegan, so dragging her to every dessert shop in the city didn’t seem quite fair.

        She did take me for awesome vegan milkshakes and pie, though, so I wasn’t too deprived.
        Jess recently posted..DC Cup-pies

    • When I stopped by, the wait was about 15 minutes, which wasn’t bad. Any longer than that and I would wonder if it was worth it. Keep following their Twitter & Facebook feeds, since they update on the status of the line on a regular basis 🙂

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