In search of the best donut in Indy

National Donut Day is June 7th, and for the past couple months, I’ve been on a quest to find the best donut in the Indianapolis area. I’m pretty partial to Donut Bank in southern Indiana – I grew up near Evansville and nothing can quite compare to that glazed yeast donut perfection that they’ve got going on.

But Indianapolis has some great options too, and my first stop was Long’s Bakery in Southport. People consistently tell you that Long’s is the best in town; they’ve been a staple in the area for over 50 years and only accept cash, so be prepared for that if you plan to go. Their glazed yeast donut was pretty delicious, but still couldn’t quite compare to the memory of Donut Bank.

So, I kept searching. My next stop took me to Rise ‘n’ Roll in Greenwood. They’re not exactly local – after an Amish couple franchised their bakery, locations began popping up in other Indiana towns, and this new establishment took over an old veterinarian clinic on the south side little over a year ago.

I’m going to say something now that will anger the Indy locals: Rise “n” Roll was better than Long’s. This donut was a fluffy and perfect yeast donut with caramel icing and rainbow sprinkles. Absolutely delicious, and I could have eaten several more.

Sorry guys, sometimes the truth hurts!

My next stop was The Dancing Donut in Broad Ripple. They definitely get bonus points for having an adorable shop and donut truck!

However, the donut itself wasn’t really anything special. I had the brown butter crumble which I thought might taste similar to the topping on a Dutch apple pie, but really didn’t. It was kind of bland, so I’m not sure that I would get that flavor again.

After that, I tried Donut Refinery in Carmel, which has one of the most instagrammable aesthetics in their shop.

They also have a fun ordering process – you grab a pink clipboard, fill out your order form, turn it in and wait for your creation to be done! All of Donut Refinery’s donuts are cake donuts, but you can add all kinds of fun toppings like cereal, bacon, oreos, M&Ms or sprinkles.

I went race weekend and they put adorable checkered flags on my donuts! The cake donut with vanilla glaze and sprinkles tasted a lot like birthday cake, so I was pretty thrilled with that. So cute!

img_4642.jpg

Many people also suggested that I try Jacks’s Donuts, which I’d kind of had before when I tried TeeJay’s Ice Cream Donut Sandwich. They use their donuts when making their sweet creations, but to be fair when ranking, I had to stop in and eat an ice cream-less donut.

It was fine – comparable to Long’s. Maybe not AS good, but better than Dancing Donut. I had two glazed yeast donuts at Jack’s and they seemed quite a bit bigger than Long’s. I would definitely go back and try another kind as well – there was a bacon maple donut that looked pretty tasty!

Next, my quest took me to Rebellion Donuts in the downtown City Market. I’d never actually been inside the market before but it was really cool! So many food vendors and it smelled divine inside. The market itself is a renovated historical landmark and every booth is locally owned, so you’re getting something homegrown and unique.

Rebellion’s first location is in Noblesville and they opened the City Market location earlier this year. Their selection is more upscale and the flavors range from lemon tart to spiced caramel apple in the fall.

I went with the ever popular Nutella and OH MY GOODNESS was it ever good. Coated with sugar and cinnamon and filled with a rich chocolate hazelnut spread. I only had one and totally could have eaten more. This one is definitely a contender for first place!

And finally, the great donut search ended with Titus Bakery in Westfield. It was quite the haul up there from the south side, so I don’t know if I will go back anytime soon, but they seemed to be a pretty popular spot on the north side.

Titus has a TON of different flavors and also serve sandwiches, so you can have lunch or breakfast at their Westfield location. The original location is in Lebanon, and it has a cute donut mural on the side of the building, but I just didn’t have time to go all the way up there.

The donut I went with here was the maple bacon. I wanted to try something different and while it was really good, it was SO sweet that it was hard to finish. It tasted a lot like pancakes and syrup! I’m not sure I’d get this kind of donut again because of how sweet it was.

I’m sure there are many other fine donut establishments in town, and if I’ve missed any you think are worth checking out, please let me know! This was a lot of fun and something I worked on for several months and while I’m pretty donuted out, I do have a verdict to share.

Drum roll please…Rise ‘n’ Roll is the best donut in Indianapolis! That caramel sprinkle donut just couldn’t be topped. Long’s comes in second place, followed by Rebellion, Donut Refinery, Jack’s, Titus, then Dancing Donut.

Veal’s Ice Tree

Nestled just off I-74 on Indianapolis’ southeast side is a winter spectacle that’s been delighting Hoosiers for over 50 years. Since 1961, the Veal family has been creating the ice tree in their back yard, and today their granddaughter Wynter Veal-Drummond continues the family tradition.

IMG_1798

The tree started by accident. Wynter’s grandparents Mabel and Vierl Veal were trying to make a hill for their children to sled down, so they started pumping water out of the pond next to the house to make an ice hill. The wind had other ideas, and blew the water onto some nearby bushes, creating the first ice tree. The family thought it was pretty and decided to keep growing it. Eventually, it took on the form of the ice tree that we see today.

Building the tree is a pretty involved process and as soon as it starts getting cold out, Wynter begins building the frame. She uses 2×4 boards for a steady base and adds branches from the neighbors’ tree trimmings.

25542741_1521768184525112_641812310201143869_o
Photo courtesy of Wynter Veal-Drummond

Once there are several days of temperatures 30 degrees or lower, they turn the hoses on and begin pumping the water out of the pond to spray on the tree form. As the tree grows, Wynter adds more hoses, and during the 2013-2014 season, the tree grew to 80 feet tall!

IMG_1777

The dying process gives the ice tree that magical look that people love to use for unique photo backdrops. Wynter dyes it using a powder form of food coloring and most years they are able to hook a special spray bottle that contains the food coloring up to the hoses and dye it that way. This year, though, she had to do it the way her grandfather did and dye it by hand.

It can take hours to get the final results and on Wednesday, the coldest day of the year, she was outside dying the tree for six hours in negative degree temperatures.

She leaves the backside of the ice tree in its natural state, which looks beautiful as well. Wynter offered to let me climb the formation using cleats, but I decided to stay safely on the ground 🙂

IMG_1791

Her mother, Janet Veal-Drummond, lives in the family home next to the tree and estimates there have only been about eight winters that haven’t been cold enough for them to grow the ice tree.

This year’s season may also be a short one; since I visited on Saturday, Indiana has had some unseasonably warm temperatures that will begin to melt the ice formation. Wynter says that once the tree starts to melt, it’s very hard to rebuild it.

Creating the ice tree may be a lot of work, but it’s a family tradition that Wynter hopes to continue for years to come. She says not only does it help her feel close to her grandparents who have both passed away, but it gives her joy to see how happy it makes other people when they see it.

How to get there: 11333 Southeastern Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46259. From I-465 take I-74 east toward Cincinnati. Exit at #99, Acton Rd. 3. Go south to Southeastern Ave. (1st road) and turn left. Turn left at the first drive after the sharp curve.

Follow Veal’s Ice Tree on Facebook & Instagram for the latest on the tree’s condition.

 

 

Mural Hunting in Indianapolis

About a year ago, I wrote a post featuring some of Indianapolis’ fun wall art. Since then, many new murals have popped up, especially on the south side of town. I thought it would be fun to do another post because who doesn’t love seeing these colorful pieces of art pop up in our neighborhoods?


This gorgeous mural is located at the Central State Mansion – an apartment community built on the grounds of an old mental institution. It’s located at 202 Steeples Boulevard, not far from Speedway.


This  hip rendition of Benjamin Franklin is located on the south side in Franklin, Indiana and pays tribute to the man the town was named after. You can find Ben at 351 E. Jefferson St. Be sure to check out the fun shops downtown Franklin has to offer!


The Monon Trail has a plethora of mural art. This colorful creation is located in Carmel, and was painted by a group of high school students. It’s located at 43 W. Main St.


Right next to Benjamin Franklin is a collection of kites. Perhaps an ode to his kite experiment with electricity?


This is one of my favorites! It’s actually part of a larger mural (see below) and was painted by Amy Hommell from the Teal Canary. You can find it in downtown Greenwood, Indiana located at 189 W. Main St.

banner-oxw-xj-edited

This mural is so new that the paint was barely dry when I took a picture of it! Also located in Franklin, you can find this colorful wall underneath the Main Street bridge next to the skate park.

Located in Whiteland, Indiana, this super cute heart mural would be the perfect backdrop for engagement or Valentine photos. Just turn on Main Street off of 31 and it’s on the side of a building next to Crystal Graphics.

Explore Indiana: the University of Notre Dame

Explore Indiana: the University of Notre Dame

Sometimes you just need to get out of the house for a few hours! Adam and I had a rare day off together and I wanted to do something instead of spending the day doing laundry and cleaning. Our schedules have both been kind of weird lately and three days out of the week we just see each other when saying “hi” and “bye” in the mornings.

I’d been wanting to drive up to Michigan to get my state sign picture but needed an excuse to go so I decided we should stop in South Bend to walk around the University of Notre Dame campus. We’re not Catholic but I’ve visited both Purdue and went to IU so it seemed like we should see it at least once in our lifetime.

There wasn’t really much else to do on the way up or back – so besides the campus and the Michigan state sign, that’s really all we did that day but it was still nice to get out for a few hours. Here’s a couple pictures from our day trip!

13466434_10101330779210063_8696881428947697166_n

13495084_10101330779504473_4227929152218524627_n

13529051_10101330779704073_9090500022277685998_n

13516410_10101330221792133_8655356860754302292_n