Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Shipley's Donuts on Ella - #27 on Robb Walsh's 100 Favorite Dishes in Houston

If you grew up in Houston, you've probably eaten about 1,000 Shipley's Donuts in your life.  Maybe more if you're a recovering fatty like me.

They may not be the best in the world, but Shipley's  Donuts are quintessential Houston and will always have a place in my heart.  And though they have expanded into four other states, the chain that came to light in Houston in 1936 will always feel like home to me.

I had read about the Shipley's on Ella just north of the Loop before.  The oldest of their locations still in existence, every note I read about it said that the donuts at this location seemed to be better than any other location.  Something I wanted to try, but I probably wasn't going to drive too far out of my way for a Shipley's donut.

But while Cari and I were arguing about whether or not to get breakfast tacos on a Sunday morning, I saw their old school sign and pulled in immediately.

We each ordered one glazed and one sausage and cheese kolache to compare how this location stacked up to the rest.

You could immediately tell that it would be awesome just by looking at it.  The glaze on a Shipley's donut is usually hardened and clumped, and eating it will leave a pile of sugar on your lap.  The glaze on the donut at Ella was smooth and covered the donut completely, much how a Krispy Kreme would.  While not as smooth as a Krispy Kreme, it did melt in your mouth when you ate it.  It was hot and fresh and really was the best Shipley's donut I have ever had.  I'm not sure if it's worth a 50 mile round trip driving past 8 other locations just for this, but it is quite good.

I've never really thought much of Shipley's kolaches, but one of their locations is about the only convenient place to stop and get breakfast, and I have been dialing down on the sweets for quite a while.  They are very hit or miss.  A hot dog weiner with processed American cheese inside a dense roll can only accomplish so much.

The Ella kolaches were also an improvement over the usual, at least as far as the bread is concerned.  That part was actually very kolache like: light and fluffy.  You could tell the difference just by touching it, and I was hoping that the inside would surprise me.

Not much improvement on the inside though.  The same old hot dog weiner and the same old processed American cheese.  I suppose this combination is not terrible and it will do in a pinch, but it makes this Czechxan long for Ellinger, Hillje or West.

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