Dirty Betty’s Good Clean “Donuts”: How We Struck Out in Lincoln Park

13 Aug

Recently, we were walking down Lincoln Ave. in Lincoln Park when we spotted an interesting-looking place: Dirty Betty’s Good Clean Donuts.

While we were a little put off by their advertisements for vegan donuts — really, if you’re going to get a donut, just accept that it’s going to be fried and highly caloric — we were still intrigued by the interesting flavors listed (espresso??  pomegranate??)

So, this morning, we set off to Lincoln Park again, eager to check out Dirty Betty’s.

Editor’s Note: Dear Readers, this morning marks the beginning of our new scoring system.  In an effort to eventually produce a ranked list of all the places we’ve been, we will be giving each donut a score out of 10 and each donut shop an overall score out of 10.  The goal is to be able to provide a quantifiable number along with our personal recommendations.

Here’s what we found:


Pomegranate Glazed

Coffee Girl: The best part of this donut was the pomegranate icing, which took advantage of the sweet-with-an-edge-of-citrus trick that Dirty Betty’s does so well.  The donut was of the spice cake variety, which worked well as a platform for the excellent, unexpected taste of the pomegranate.

Donut Boy: I think this donut sums up perfectly the pros and cons of Dirty Betty’s.  Initially, one is excited: The donut is a beauty to behold, clearly decorated with care.  Upon tasting, a pleasant fruity flavor hits at once.  But then you realize that this “donut” is, in fact, the consistency of a very moist piece of cake.  You feel cheated.  You wanted a donut and wound up eating a cupcake, albeit one of a slightly different shape.

Score: 8.5

Blueberry with Lemon Glaze

Coffee Girl: The sharp edge to the lemon icing worked beautifully when paired with the moist, blueberry-infested cake donut.  But the overall texture could have used more variety.

Donut Boy: I found the lemon glaze very pleasing but slightly overpowering.  I would have liked more blueberry to balance it out.

Score: 7.8

Ginger with Key Lime Glaze

Coffee Girl: The delicious, pungent lime taste of the icing is a perfect foil for the rich, spicy ginger flavor of the cake dough.  Dirty Betty’s concoctions work best when there is a distinct contrast between the flavors of the icing and the donut.

Donut Boy: By far, one of the most interesting donut flavors I’ve ever tasted.  The key lime was a bit gentler than the lemon glaze, but it still brought a breezy, citrus-y flavor to the table.  The ginger came on subtly at the end, mixing very interestingly with the tang of the lime.

Score: 8.4

Espresso Glazed

Coffee Girl: Tasty glaze, but without more variation between the taste of the icing and the taste of the generic spice-cake donut, the whole experience blends together into pleasant-but-bland-ness.

Donut Boy: A nice espresso glaze is not enough to carry the rest of this donut, which is mishy in all the wrong ways.

Score: 7.7

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup

Donut Boy: Dirty Betty’s offers a few different chocolate-flavored donuts.  This one was easily my favorite, mostly because I could actually taste another flavor besides the chocolate (other kinds all sort of blended together).  Here, a fairly good peanut butter balanced out the rich, sticky chocolate glaze.  Still, the banana-bread-meets-bundt-cake consistency of these pastries really put me off.

Coffee Girl: As a group, the chocolate iced donuts were too sweet and mushy.  There’s a reason that donuts are fried, and it’s not just to clog up our arteries.  They taste and crunch better that way.  Without the oil, it’s just another cupcake

Score: 6.1


We need to just come out and say it: These are not donuts.  Our suspicions were confirmed upon visiting Dirty Betty’s website — these pastries are baked, not fried.  This explains the definitively not-donut texture of these donuts and why we repeatedly felt as if we were eating pieces of cake or even different-shaped cupcakes.  Yes, they are pretty to look at.  Some of them are even pretty tasty.  But these are not donuts, and Dirty Betty’s is not a donut shop.

Ready at 9:15, waiting for Dirty Betty's to open at 10.

Consider also their hours: We arrived at 9:15 AM, ready to dig in.  But Dirty Betty’s doesn’t open till 10.  What self-respecting donut shop is not open for the early birds?  At 10 AM, we were the first and only customers in the spot.  What kind of donut shop has little-to-no-business on Saturday morning, quite possibly the most popular time of the week for America to grab a donut?  It just doesn’t add up.

Speaking of “adding up,” our dozen donuts and three coffees came out to over $30.  This is unacceptable.  Even if Dirty Betty’s legitimately fried their donuts, we’ve had few donuts anywhere that are worth at least $2 each.  Furthermore, Dirty Betty’s doesn’t offer any special pricing for buying donuts by the dozen or half-dozen.  They clearly think that customers should come in, purchase one pretty, quirky, fake-donut, and eat it contentedly.  No!  Real donut shops expect their patrons to want to take a dozen with them to share with others.  Some of the best donuts we’ve had have been maybe $10 for an entire baker’s dozen.


Don’t come here.  If you like donuts, you’ll be disappointed.  If you like cupcakes, you might be happy, but you’d be much better off going to an actual cupcake store, like Sweet Mandy B’s.  Artsy decorations and quirky flavors are not enough to overcome the lackluster texture and high price tag of these pretentious pastries.  Our curiosity has been satisfied, but our stomachs have not.  We will not be coming back.

Until next week, Good People!



2 Responses to “Dirty Betty’s Good Clean “Donuts”: How We Struck Out in Lincoln Park”


  1. Back to Basics for $7: Rolling Donuts « The Breakfast Adventures of Coffee Girl & Donut Boy - August 20, 2011

    […] Boy: After the terrible quasi-healthy donuts we came across last week, it was nice to bite into a donut and immediately taste strong hints of frying oil.  A sticky, […]

  2. Leonard’s: Stellar Service Somewhat Compensates for Drab Donut Offerings « The Breakfast Adventures of Coffee Girl & Donut Boy - November 19, 2011

    […] chocolate frosting and a cinnamon cake donut.  And they bake their donuts, something we have not had good luck with before.  In fact, had it not been for Marc, we might have walked back out the door. Marc outside […]

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