Donuts have been the hot thing in so many major cities for years now. The Salty Donut (hi Andy and Amanda!) and Mojo Donuts in South Florida, Valkyrie Doughnuts in Orlando (hi Celine!), Voodoo Doughnuts that now has six locations, Donut Bar in San Diego, and District Donuts in New Orleans just to name a few. But Gainesville has been behind. While the classic Krispy Kreme glazed donut hits the spot, Daylight Donuts is decent (yes, it’s a chain), and Cecilia’s Donut Studio takes orders for her extremely decadent creations, we have not had a local storefront donut shop with store hours…until now. Halo Potato Donuts is not only the first, but also the most unique. That’s right, potatoes…as in the delicious, starchy, tuberous crop.
What the hell is a potato donut? It’s a style that’s very popular in the northern part of the country that have potatoes added to them for extra moisture and creates a texture somewhere between a cake and standard donut. I know some of you are already hesitant about the flavor, but I assure you that beyond the added moisty moistastic moistyness, you wouldn’t know there was potato in it. And there is indeed fresh potatoes in it, not flakes or powder. You know…so it creates that moisty moistastic moistyness.
It all started when owner and operator, Drew Stuerman, moved to Gainesville from Ohio about five years ago. The first time I met Drew was when his food truck made its debut during the football game against Kentucky last month. His passion for what he does and the pure joy he exudes while doing it was very quickly evident. While a Senior at UF, he decided to do something about the lack of a quality local donut in town, and begun testing recipes at home. His research led him to potato donuts and to The Holy Donut in Portland, Maine, whose owner, Leigh Kellis, is considered one of the best donut makers in the country. With her help, Drew developed the recipes that would eventually become Halo Potato.
His day begins while we’re still dreaming of breakfast, hand peeling Yukon Gold potatoes, boiling them, then ricing them into a mix of unbleached King Arthur flour, sugar, and eggs to create his product. The result is a uniquely delicious donut with a texture unlike anything else I’ve had in Florida. Each one has a slight crisp and aroma that only dough fried to a perfect golden brown can emit. The finished product is slightly dense, far from dry, and pulls apart almost like a cake donut. It bears repeating that these bad boys are so moist and fresh, that they are still good a day or two later if you somehow didn’t destroy them all in one sitting. Sounds way better than just a baked potato with a hole in the middle and some icing poured on top, right?
The flavors change and new ones are still being added to the rotation, but some of the flavors offered thus far are Vanilla Glaze, Strawberry Sugar, Cinnamon Sugar, Vanilla Glaze with Sprinkles, Banana Pudding Glaze, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt, Toasted Coconut, and their popular Florida Buckeye flavor (chocolate and peanut butter frosting). They vary throughout the week and are usually presented in fours. Prices are $1.75 per donut, $8 for a half dozen, and $14 for a full dozen.
In addition to being the first truly local donut storefront, their presence adds yet another very solid contributor to the growing list of food trucks in Gainesville that are worth eating. It’s yet another trend where Gainesville has been sorely behind on, but is now seeing a major improvement with trucks like Arepas Milko, EIM Thai, Mayflower Kitchen, and now Halo Potato. It’s an exciting time for Gainesville food lovers, as more and more talented people are willing to take the risk and open their own mobile eatery.
Right now, Halo Potato is set up on most week days at 722 South Main Street (old Discount HiFi building) from 7 AM until 10:30 AM (or until they’re sold out), and on campus during home football games. The best thing to do will be to follow them on Instagram @halopotatodonuts to keep up with their weekly schedule. Most days, they sell out before 10:30 AM, but will take pre-orders with 24 hours’ notice.
At the end of the day, when people love what they do and take pride in what they make, it shows. Drew loves his donuts, and I’m certain you’ll love them too. Donut miss this food truck! (See what I did there? I’ll see myself out now…)