Pile of doughnuts(© Pixtal, Jupiter Images)

However you spell it, the doughnut is a traditional American delight.

From their early days sating World War I soldiers, to Homer Simpson's weakness for a pink frosted, doughnuts have enjoyed an -- if at times guilty -- place in American culinary culture for nearly a century. And with the Atkins craze safely behind us, they're as popular as ever. Classic mom-and-pop shops continue to thrive while adventuresome bakers push doughnuts in sophisticated new directions, careful to maintain the simple, down-to-earth charm that renders these sugary, fried rings the ultimate comfort food (in this author's opinion anyway). As a fanatic of all things doughnut, I've put together a list of my 10 favorite doughnut dealers coast-to-coast.

Dynamo Donut and Coffee (San Francisco)
2760 24th St. (Mission District)
(415) 920-1978

Dynamo fries dough for the foodie set. Specializing in artisanal, impeccably-crafted doughnuts -- and opened by New England Culinary Institute graduate Sara Spearin -- bakers at this tiny walk-up window work with ingredients seldom served at doughnut counters. Caramel glaze joins fleur de sel (sea salt). Star anise spikes chocolate frosting. Then there's cardamom, thyme and lemon zest. Dynamo offers up to 10 doughnut varieties daily, all made with organic, sustainable and local ingredients whenever possible. And because ( according to the shop's Web site) "Everyday is Bacon Donut Day!!!", the Bacon Maple Apple is a must: The decadent ring is topped with maple glaze and crispy bacon, studded with more bacon and sweetened with apples sautéed in -- yes -- bacon fat.


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Sweetwater's Donut Mill (Kalamazoo, Mich.)
Multiple locations

Self-proclaimed peddler of "big, gooey" donuts and known for its rustic, local atmosphere, Sweetwater's offers traditional flavors alongside more decadent donut fare like New York Cheesecake and Peanut Butter Cup. But the shop's tendency toward child-like indulgence is best experienced through its obsession with candy bars: check the Heath Crunch, Snickers and Mounds varieties.

> Find Kalamazoo restaurants