There is no real-life Superior Donuts.
I spent a recent morning criss-crossing the Uptown neighborhood by car and foot, hoping to find a charming equivalent to the shop of the same name depicted in the Steppenwolf-play-turned-CBS-series, which premieres February 2.
No such luck. The North Side neighborhood has two locations of a certain doughnut chain, but not a single independent purveyor. (Hey, someone should open a doughnut shop in Uptown!) This, however, does not mean there aren’t fine examples of fried dough around. Here’s where to find them.
5020 N. Sheridan Rd.
Depending on who’s cooking, the small, round Danish pastries called aebleskivers can resemble pancakes, popovers, or doughnut holes. They're in the latter camp at this cozy cafe, all cake-y and cardamom-spiced. A berry-strewn plate of eight is $6.50.
Le Patisserie P
1050 W. Argyle St.
Among the array of French, Vietnamese, Filipino, and Chinese sweet and savory pastries are two yeast doughnut-like creations: coconut buns and ensaymada. Made with the same feather-light dough, the coconut bun has a golden topping of toasted sweet coconut, while ensaymada gets a pale butter-and-sugar coating. $1.25 each.
935 W. Wilson Ave.
The shop sells doughnuts on weekends only from River North favorite Firecakes. The six-flavor selection on my visit was a greatest-hits assortment that included Valrhona chocolate cake, honey glazed, and pistachio old-fashioned. $2.50 to $3.25.
Baker and Nosh
1303 W. Wilson Ave.
The jelly-filled doughnut here isn’t a typical bismarck. The dough is more like a Danish and it’s baked, not fried, with a thin (too thin!) layer of filling within. But it’s slathered in icing and huge, which for some is all that matters. $3.
1127 W. Argyle St.
Pucks of unapologetically fried doughnuts at this Argyle Street standby come plain or coated in sugar, devoid of holes or any silly toppings or fillings, for a buck each. I went with sugar-coated. It was still slightly warm and tasted like a funnel cake.
1325 W. Wilson Ave., 1020 W. Lawrence Ave.
Both Uptown locations of this bicycle/coffee shop feature a stacked lineup on the weekends from another local shop, Somethin’ Sweet (5112 W. Fullerton Ave., Belmont-Cragin). I counted 10 varieties, among them coconut frosted, devil’s food, and blueberry cake. On Saturdays, they’re $2; on Sundays, $1.