On our last full day in Cleveland, we wanted to get some breakfast before doing our daily exploring, and, quite frankly, we wanted donuts. The problem is, it’s rather hard to find good donuts these days… sure, there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts on damn near ever corner, but those aren’t really good donuts (especially since the vast majority of DD locations don’t bake on-site anymore, just truck in their donuts from a regional bakery). I actually remember a time when there were a lot of independent donut shops selling donuts and coffee, but these days you usually have to do a little bit of research to find the few remaining ones. One of those is Becker’s Donuts.
The original Becker’s opened in 1946 as a breakfast joint, and soon branched into donuts and pastries. By the 1950s, Becker’s was a small Cleveland donut empire with more than a dozen locations, but over the years the business contracted a bit. There are still several Becker’s around Cleveland, and from my research it appears they all have different ownership, but the Becker’s on Lorain in Fairview Park is one of the best regarded once, and that location itself has been there since the 1950s.
Becker’s is a classic donut bakery, where they’ve basically got a large pastry case full of donuts, pastries (especially traditional Polish and Jewish specialties), and a bunch of coffee vacuum pots. With seating at an elevated counter for about 3 people at a time, Becker’s is basically a takeout joint, and it’s pretty much all about the donuts.
And I’ll have to say, they make a pretty good donut. I’m always a sucker for cruellers (both “New England-style” twisted cruellers, and French-style egg cruellers that look like glazed truck tires), and Becker’s is a particularly good source for French cruellers. Their cruellers are distinctly better than most I’ve had in recent history: they are a fair bit larger than average, with a distinctly fluffy and airy interior. They’ve got a seriously good crisp on them as well, giving them the overall texture I expect from a nicely done cream puff. Add in a light glaze coating that doesn’t overwhelm the pastry (the goal is to glaze a pastry, not seal it from the elements), and the result is a seriously good crueller.
But that wasn’t the only good item there. Right next to the cruellers were some nice dark brown crescent-shaped “fry cakes”. I ordered up one of those as well, expecting from the dark color that these were chocolate-flavored. Well, they weren’t, but I wasn’t disappointed, since the dark color came from the particularly thick and crispy outer coating on the fry cake, these things were pretty seriously fried up. The result was a rich, thick, and crispy outer coating around a very moist and cakey interior.
I was very pleased with Becker’s, while they do pretty much just one thing (donuts), they do it really, really, well, serving out fresh donuts six days a week to hungry residents of the West Cleveland metro area. I’m glad someone is still offering a tasty alternative to the DD empire.