Monday, January 29, 2007

Road trip for the best donuts in Minnesota


What is it about Tobie's in Hinckley? The huge sprawling complex now includes a bakery, a restaurant, a lounge, a gas station, and a carwash. You can hardly fail to notice it just off Highway 35 north, halfway to Duluth. Perhaps it's the proximity to Casino Country. Perhaps it's the natural place to gas-up and grab a bite. Perhaps it's the homemade old-fashioned donuts, which are just about the best to be found anywhere in the state.

A trip to Spirit Mountain this weekend gave us a reason to stop in and have breakfast. The fare is about what you'd expect from a breakfast-all-day joint. The garish interior is "Country Goose 1984," and the patronage is heavy on flannel and blaze orange. There were bloody marys in more than one booth, and our server was a young man with detailed and available knowledge of snowmobiles.

This immersion into a busy, wholesome, northern Minnesota enclave made us hungry for one thing: those old-fashioned donuts. Hold the frosting, the nuts, the sprinkles, and the filling: You don't want to be distracted from the pure, unadulterated genius of a Tobie's donut. The toothsome little ridge of crunchiness, the melt-in-your-mouth yellow interior, the hint of cardamom.

Yes, the heart of Tobie's is round and brown and has a hole in the middle.

Tobie's, Interstate 35 at Hinckley, http://www.tobies.com/

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