Syracuse has great bakeries. The frequent walk from my apartment to Columbus Bakery for a loaf of Italian bread still hot from the brick oven is a walk I always look forward to. Harrison Bakery has great half-moons and the cakes and other Italian pastries from Biscotti’s are tough to beat.
But it’s donuts I want and aside from the usual chain offerings, there’s not much in the city.
For donuts, you must head to East Syracuse, the home of Serres Donut Shop.
East Syracuse is as much in the city of Syracuse as North Syracuse, which is to say, not at all.
This small donut shop has been frying up all sorts of donuts seven days a week since 1980. There are few wall decorations, but the wall of donuts and other pastries behind the counter provides more than enough decor.
Serres is an old -chool place. The five or six people inside on the rainy Monday morning I visited were all of a post-retirement age. A couple sat in a booth, but the others sat on the round bar stools at the counter.
In no rush to leave, they ate their donuts, sipped their coffees and read the newspaper in between bouts of laughter and chatter with those at the next stool. I was only there to pick up a half-dozen donuts to go, but I could quickly tell it was not their first time at the shop. It’s as if they had a leisurely Sunday breakfast every day. It’s something I aspire to someday.
Back to the donuts. You can’t go wrong with any, but the yeast donuts are king here. They should have a thin, crispy outside to go along with a light, airy inside that melts in your mouth. The glaze, frosting or filling shouldn’t be sickly sweet. A proper yeast donut is something you can eat more than one of and not hate yourself for it.
Out of the six I tried, the eclair was my favorite. All the characteristics of a great yeast donut with a custard filling that unlike the donut chains’ offerings, won’t leave your teeth hurting from all the sugar.
The donuts are only 75 cents a pop--tax included--which makes Serres one of the best cheap bites in all of Central New York. Pair that with a cup of coffee, which ranges from $1 to $1.50 depending on size, and you can have a filling breakfast or snack for under $3.
Now I see why the regulars keep coming back.
Serres Donut Shop
135 W. Manlius St., East Syracuse, NY, 13057
Telephone: (315) 463-9852