Taste September 25, 2018

Fried Indulgence

Donut Daze brings a unique menu to downtown Boise


Breakfast, lunch, dinner and even an extra-late-night bite are all covered in one place thanks to the unexpected menu combination at the new downtown Boise eatery, Donut Daze.

Donut Daze, as the name implies, is a donut shop. The breakfast treats are served all day and make up one half of the menu, but things don’t end there.

The other side of the menu makes Donut Daze unique.

The restaurant’s other specialty is fried chicken. That includes Southern style, Nashville hot and chicken and waffles. On top of that, there’s also beer and wine available to go with the chicken or donuts.

Owners Kelly Barker and Russ Crawforth opened Donut Daze at 160 N. Eighth St. in June on the first floor of the newly renovated Main + Marketplace building. The idea was inspired by a trip to Philadelphia and a visit to Federal Donuts, which serves both donuts and Korean-style fried chicken.

Barker and Crawforth brought their own take on the donut-chicken combination to Boise. “There’s never a time of day where there isn’t something for someone,” Barker said of the menu choices.

Crawforth owns two other restaurants downtown that are a short distance from Donut Daze on Eighth Street: The Mode Lounge and Pie
Hole Pizza.

Donut Daze is the first restaurant collaboration for the husband-and-wife team.

“It’s a collaborative effort and it’s rewarding to create something together,” Barker said.

Crawforth saw an opportunity for a new restaurant with more new people moving to the area and the need for another late-night food option next to the bars downtown. Donut Daze is open until 3 a.m., Thursday through Saturday to create that additional option for the bar crowd. It’s also open until midnight Monday through Wednesday.

During the day, however, Barker strives for a family-friendly atmosphere. There’s a cart in the dining room with donut toys and activities for children, and she said she wants to add more activities for families.

Donut Dreams

Crawforth’s first job as a teenager was in a donut shop, and it had been a longtime goal to open a shop of his own, Barker said.

Barker described the donuts at Donut Daze as simple, old-fashioned donuts, eschewing the recent trend toward fancier donuts.

The bestseller so far has been the buttermilk bar, Barker said. Her personal favorite is the cake donut topped with Oreo cookies, while her young daughter prefers the donuts topped with cereal.

Although the restaurant sticks mainly to the simple classics, the employees are encouraged to have fun with toppings, similar to what they do with pizza toppings at Pie Hole, which leads to new, imagined combinations being offered.

“They’re not really fancy, but they’re fun,” Barker said.

For the chicken, the couple got help from a friend and a trip to Nashville for taste testing. They serve chicken and waffles all day, and also offer champagne to go with the fried chicken, Barker said.

While the restaurant serves both donuts and fried chicken, they are cooked separately in different fryers, Barker pointed out.

Cafeteria Inspiration

The décor and atmosphere at Donut Daze started with Barker’s vision of a 1960s-style cafeteria. There are old-style trays for the food and a row of barstools along the window facing Eighth Street. Barker’s collection of vintage cafeteria photos and postcards hang in a framed collage on one wall. The color scheme on the restaurant’s logo and throughout the interior was inspired by the show “The Wonder Years.”

What patrons may notice first, however, are the large cartoonish paintings of donuts, coffee, beer and chicken on the wall, which were done by Chelsea Barr. The paintings were inspired by the ads that played before drive-in movies, Barker said.

Since Donut Daze opened, Barker and Crawforth are still tweaking things as they go along, Barker said. It’s also been hard to determine what people prefer more, donuts or chicken. At different times, one wins over the other, Barker said.

This article appears in the Fall 2018 Issue of Territory Magazine.