Saturday, July 18, 2015

Federal Donuts: Philadelphia, PA

The Homer Simpson special!
Photo Credit: TH
What: Federal Donuts
Where: 1219 S. 2nd Street (SE corner of intersection with Manton St), 1632 Sansom Street, 3428 Sansom Street, 701 N. 7th Street, Citizens Bank Park (2nd Street location visited for this post)
Order: Whole order of fried chicken (half “naked,” half sweet garlic soy glaze), honey donut, strawberry lavender donut, vanilla spice donut, cinnamon brown sugar donut

Fried chicken and donuts seem like an unlikely combination, one dreamed up by someone like, say, Homer Simpson (shortly after he came up with the idea for Nuts and Gum). I don’t know how the idea came together, but the people behind Federal Donuts have taken Philadelphia by storm with the combination since its open in 2011. Somehow, the place had eluded me until recently. I stopped in and sampled their wares, and why not, I had three free donuts coming to me for philanthropic reasons.

Federal’s titular item, the actual donuts, are divided into three categories, all of them deep-fried as God intended donuts to be made. The plain, honey donuts come with every order of fried chicken. The next tier up come dusted in a mix of sugar and spice in three varieties: strawberry lavender, vanilla spice, and cinnamon brown sugar. Of the three, the strawberry lavender donut was the all-star. Maybe it was because I ate a piece of that one while it was still scalding hot out of the fryer, but the flavor combo was a nice combination of sweet and floral. The other two dusted varieties were very good too. Basically, the name on the marquee is well-deserved; this joint knows how to make a donut. The third variety is labeled as “fancy,” and that’s where Federal gets into glazes and other wet toppings or fillings. I didn’t get a chance to order any of those, but when I go back, I’ll be sure to try one.

What Federal lacks in sheer diversification of menu items, it makes up for in customization. In addition to the several different kinds of donuts, the fried chicken can come with a variety of spice dusts and wet glazes. I got a full order to share with *Borat voice* my wife, so I split half between “naked” or just plain ol’ fried chicken and the sweet garlic soy glaze. The chicken by itself was delicious, although the dark meat (thigh and leg) were considerably greasier than the white (split breast). If your tolerance for grease is low, stick with the white meat. But the skin was still crispy and crunchy, and the actual meat was seasoned well. While I would totally just order naked chicken again and again, it’s worth noting that the soy glaze was tasty as well.

Federal Donuts may have a small menu, but it’s done superbly enough for the place to justifiably explode in the Philadelphia area. If you just want either fried chicken or donuts, then you should hit up Federal. But if you especially feel like Homer Simpson and want both? Well, then it’s in your destiny to visit one of its five locations.