The Salty Donut is now open in the Bishop Arts District, bringing its fancy confections from Miami. The front door is tucked under a “Red Sparrow Mercantile” sign on Davis Street, which might throw you off as it did me when trying to find it. But, it’s there; look for “The Salty” on the glass door.
Once you walk into the large patio area, it’s hard to imagine how you missed it. The covered outdoor seating delivers a whole new level of doughnut dining.
On a recent visit, at least three groups of friends sat at different tables with boxes of sugary orbs spread open in front of them. Each pair would thoughtfully taste one doughnut at a time, like working through flights of wine. One woman glanced across the table to her friend to see if she was ready to move on to a chocolate glazed number. The friend gave a subtle nod, and they proceeded.
At another table, a girl shook her head back and forth with her cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk. Her friend laughed (as did I) and she explained she’s a picky eater.
The Salty Donut space cuts all the way through the building, and as you walk back, you’ll see new murals on adjacent brick walls, including a huge “Salty Loves Y'all” with an outline of Texas.
The interior design mirrors the artful touches put into their confections. Details in both the doughnuts and space are carefully thought out. From the angled subway tiles in the bathroom to the swirled dollops of icing sprinkled with crumbs.
It all looks so good.
A brioche dough is used for these hefty doughnuts. Seasonal flavors are mixed in and the concepts are creative; like a horchata that is a “24 hr brioche soaked in a homemade horchata mixture, bottom crusted with a Valrhona Caramelia chocolate + finished with torched cinnamon-meringue.”
The sweet tea + bourbon is made with a sweet tea glaze topped with a Garrison Brothers Bourbon reduction (tip of the hat for sourcing a Texas brand), shortbread crumble and bourbon whipped cream.
There are also a couple vegan options, like a peach cobbler made with caramelized peaches, vanilla-infused oat milk glaze, topped with brown sugar and oat streusel.
(Let’s pause for an important disclosure: I’m writing this as a doughnut purist. I was raised on Shipley’s and have raised my own people on Shipley’s. We just might be doughnut snobs, but at the same time, it’s simplicity we seek. The soul-melting greatness of warm plain glazed from Shipley’s is our standard.)
Aside from the chocolate, flavors were indiscernible. I bought four doughnuts for $13.96 and two were lacking flavor. The bourbon doughnut had no bourbon flavor (and I’ve had plenty of experience there). It tasted kind of like the plain.
And the horchata was only differentiated with a touch of cinnamon in the cream. The menu says it has a chocolate on the bottom, but I didn’t taste any. I was actually surprised when writing this to look back and see the menu says it has chocolate. I see in the photo that it’s been dipped in something, but, again, no taste.
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(Side huddle: The Salty Donut prides itself on sourcing local ingredients. Dipping that guy in Dude, Sweet Chocolate would be a game changer.)
The chocolate sheet cake doughnut is, as advertised in name, like a dense cake. I’d eat it for dessert, but not with a doughnut purist hat on.
The space is communal, welcoming and full of good vibes. The fare is more of an after-dinner dessert. There was never an ‘Oh, wow’ moment here. I wish the doughnut tasted as described on the menu (and that some flavors weren't completely missing), but the space is cool.
The Salty Donut, 414 W. Davis St. (Bishop Arts District), Tuesday - Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Closed Mondays).