We tried the doughnut shop that has Super Bowl champs and Obama lining up — and it lives up to the hype

Matt Weinberger
Obama Top Pot Doughnuts Seattle

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

President Barack Obama and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., right, get donuts from Top Pot donuts in Seattle, Wash., Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010.

If you ask a Seattle local, you can forget about Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts — it’s all about Top Pot Doughnuts, a local chain that’s become an institution since it first opened for business in 2002.

How famous is Top Pot? Famous enough that President Barack Obama himself stopped in during a visit to Seattle in 2010. “You can’t eat these every day,” he quipped.

And how delicious is Top Pot? Delicious enough that, also back in 2010, Golden Tate — then a rookie with the Seattle Seahawks — walked into a closed Top Pot store at 3 a.m. because he was craving their maple bars (his apartment was located in the same building). It’s especially funny because Top Pot was named the official doughnut of the Seahawks just a few months prior. 

In other words, Top Pot is serious business. At peak hours, it has lines coming out the door. So when we were in Seattle last week, we had to stop by and check out Top Pot Doughnuts for ourselves.

It was incredible. Take a look:

There are currently 21 Top Pot locations, mostly in and around Seattle (with a few in Texas). This is the flagship location, not too far from Amazon’s headquarters in downtown Seattle.

Top Pot was founded in 2002 by brothers Mark and Michael Klebeck. Here’s the story of how the chain got its name, from the website:

“Years earlier, two of our co-founders spied a vintage rustic (and rusty) neon sign gleaming above a boarded-up Chinese restaurant called ‘Topspot’. They bought the sign, and then left it idle in a backyard for four years, further rusting and creating a home for raccoons. Then, when the sign was finally driven off to be restored, the center ‘S’ fell off, leaving the words ‘Top Pot’ behind.”

The store has a vibe like an upscale Starbucks. But that’s not what we’re here for. Enhance.

Oh yeah. That’s the stuff. Top Pot specializes in perfecting old classics — it’s less about crazy toppings and weird flavor combinations, and more about making the best darn apple fritters, old fashioned, and cake donuts possible.

Here’s a closer look at the good stuff, courtesy of the store’s Instagram.


They also make some more savory pastries, too, if that’s what you’re into.

I went with a lemon-glazed and a classic-glazed old fashioned, at the advice of the cashier. Plus a cup of coffee to wash it down. This little spread cost me a little over $6, all in.

And…they’re really good!

The cake is nice and firm, and the glaze is sweet without being too cloying.

The lemon glaze is nice and tangy, without overshadowing the cake flavor. It’s pretty boss.

The coffee is fine. Pretty much just standard donut shop coffee. Good, but nothing to write home about. Except, I guess that’s what I’m doing, so, you know.

The donuts are super fresh, too: If you peek in the back, you can see the facilities where they make the donuts, which then get sent to some of the more remote stores in Portland and Dallas.

For a brief while circa 2010, thousands of Starbucks stores across the country stocked Top Pot pastries, too. 

Anyway, with our donut craving settled, we can take a closer look at our environs. It has kind of a “library” vibe…

…with bookshelves lining every wall. It’s kind of cool, and makes it feel more cozy than your average Starbucks.

This flagship location also has a poster commemorating President Barack Obama’s visit in 2010. It’s something they’re very proud of.

Some of the bookshelves hide merch, too, if you’re a tourist like me and want to bring some Seattle home with you.

And the flagship location, at least, has tons of seating. It’s a good place to relax a little while you’re downtown.

Great doughnuts, good coffee, and cozy ambiance — it’s no wonder why Top Pot is such a destination. If you ever find yourself in the Pacific Northwest, do yourself a favor and pop in for an old-fashioned or a maple bar.

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