Eating ABQ: Rebel Donut

A couple of weeks ago, my mom came up from Belen to hang out for the day. We were lounging around, chatting about nothing much, when she uttered eight fateful words: “Did you hear about the new doughnut place?” Then she topped them with three more: “maple-bacon bar.”
Five minutes later – long enough to put on shoes and look up the address – we were in the car.
Ever since visiting Portland‘s iconic Voodoo Doughnut, I have craved doughnuts with attitude. Plain old doughnuts aren’t hard to come by in Albuquerque, and some are quite good (I can’t resist Donut Mart’s glazed chocolate cake doughnuts), but there never seem to be any with real panache. Rumors crop up occasionally – a year ago there was supposedly a shop called Zombie Doughnut in the back of Voodoo Scooters across from UNM on Central – but never anything with the staying power for me to get there before it was gone.
So I was relieved to find that Rebel Donut actually existed. We pulled into the parking lot of a nondescript building with green awnings that also houses a Cricket Wireless storefront, and went in.

Rebel Donut reminds me a lot of Voodoo Doughnut. Their display is somewhat less Technicolor and a great deal less vulgar (no “triple chocolate penetration” or “cock ‘n’ balls” here), and there’s not a line around the block, but there’s a similar sense of imagination and flair.

We bought six, and though they all looked awesome, we put first things first: the maple-bacon bar, of course! It was exquisite, with a lighter touch than the bar at Voodoo. The maple frosting at Rebel Donut is both less sweet and less thickly slathered on, allowing you to actually taste the excellent, yeasty raised doughnut base. And the generously applied bacon is fantastic.

My other favorites on that trip included the caramel apple fritter, which was exactly what it sounds like and perfectly so; and the blueberry pancake doughnut with its moist blueberries, craggily browned exterior, maple drizzle, and strong hit of nutmeg. The coconut-chocolate doughnut was also great. We didn’t attempt to eat all six donuts right away, so maybe that’s why the cereal-crusted one fell a little flat; the cereal had lost most of its crispness by the time we ate it. The red velvet was also slightly disappointing, with weak flavor and a rather dry crumb (and no cream cheese icing!) – but even the doughnuts that didn’t stand out in this company were quite good.

Of course, I had to get my sweetie to this doughnut heaven as soon as possible. We made it a few days later, and tried several more varieties. Aside from the bacon-maple bar, the strawberry one and the chocolate salted pretzel (I want to know what was in the cake doughnut base on that one, because it was killer) were the standouts this time. We also had a delicious kolache – bready pastry wrapped around sausage and cheese.

It may be kind of cruel to tell you what varieties were best on my visits, because Rebel Donut’s menu changes constantly. (Though I suspect the maple-bacon bar is always there.) The website invites you to place orders for any flavor – if they haven’t made it before, they’ll create it. Now that’s panache!

As we were leaving, Arne pointed out something interesting; he didn’t feel ill. There is a classic “gut bomb” problem with doughnuts – they’re delicious, but hard to digest. (Harder the older we get, alas.) So we stopped by the counter and demanded to know what was up. 
Cheerful counter staff informed us that most doughnut shops use oil that is liquid at room temperature, which is soaked up by the dough like a sponge. Rebel Donut uses trans-fat-free vegetable shortening – solid at room temperature – and much less is retained in the finished product. Rebel’s doughnuts are also somewhat less sweet than your average doughnut, which allows the flavors to stand out and may also help them feel a little lighter on the tummy.
Rebel Doughnut takes flavor suggestions on its Facebook page and occasionally posts its experiments. Recent ones include Caramel Corn and Sriracha Peanut Butter. Oh, and they have other sweets in the rotation, like eclairs and bread pudding cups. Just go already!

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Rebel Donut on Urbanspoon Rebel Donut on Foodio54