Doughnuts from Donisima
Doughnuts from Donisima Credit: Nevin Martell

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Doughnuts aren’t simple pastries; they are complex joy makers. Bite into a great one and you will feel a deep happiness, a childish (in the best way possible) pleasure that rockets you back through time. No matter your age, you will feel like a kid again for one giddy moment as you stuff your mouth with the glorious trinity of sugar, carbs, and fat.

The older I get, the more I crave and value opportunities to reconnect with my younger self. This is why I love spin-your-head, knock-your-socks-off, absolutely bonkers doughnuts. By this point, you are probably asking whether all this intellectualized scaffolding is just me over-rationalizing, providing myself cover so I can eat doughnuts with wild abandon. There may be some truth to that, but there’s also some truth to my wife’s pointed observation that I may have a touch of Peter Pan Syndrome.

The reason I’ve recently been thinking about the joy-making quality of doughnuts is my unfolding obsession with Donisima, operated out of Union Kitchen by chef-owner Miguel Guerra and his father, whose name is also Miguel Guerra. Their magnificent doughnuts, laced with the flavors of Latin America, are available at a cart in La Cosecha, through their website, and from DoorDash and Uber Eats; there are also a pair of Donisima locations in Medellín, Colombia, where the elder Guerra lives.

Donisima means “super doughnut,” a fusion of “doughnut” and the Spanish superlative “isima.” It’s not an overstatement. These are some of the best doughnuts available anywhere in the region right now. Made with buttery brioche, the doughnuts proof for 24 hours before they’re fried, transforming them into light puffy and fluffy rounds that are decorated with care and consideration.

First and foremost, there’s the vanilla glazed, which Guerra considers the bar-setter, the one he had to get right before developing anything fancier. “If your classic doughnut is good, everything else should be good,” he told me.

He nailed it. There’s the right amount of glaze, a delicate sheath on the airy dough beneath; the perfect level of vanilla enriches rather than overwhelms. To experience it in smaller doses, get a bag of half a dozen vanilla glazed doughnut holes, which are everything Dunkin’ Munchkins dream to be, but never are.

The guava and cheese doughnut from Donisima. Photo by Nevin Martell.

Guerra took inspiration from Cuban pastelitos when designing his guava and cheese doughnut. Packed with guava pastry cream, it’s iced with vanilla cream cheese frosting, dotted with jewel-like cubes of guava pate de fruits, and sprinkled with sweet coconut flakes. Not only is it gorgeous, but the tang of the cream cheese contrasts perfectly with the tropical sweetness of the guava and coconut. If this was the last doughnut I ate before I died, I would die content.

For cocktail enthusiasts, there’s the Rum Fashion, blending American tradition with Latin American flavors. There’s rum instead of bourbon, and panela (unrefined whole cane sugar) rather than brown sugar used in some versions of the cocktail (calm down purists, I know it’s not in the iconic rendition). Orange and bitters also make appearances, as does some shaved chocolate for an extra element of bitterness.

The Rum Fashioned doughnut from Donisima. Photo by Nevin Martell.

Gluttons will love the arequipe, the Colombian equivalent of dulce de leche. It appears as a curd inside, in a pirouette on top, and in the icing. It’s offset by crumbled queso fresco, the cheese incorporating a slightly salty savoriness into the equation. Last, but by no means least, is the chocolate doughnut, stuffed with chocolate curd, chocolate iced, and finished with caramelized hazelnuts, cacao crumble, and a bit of edible gold foil for glam. If you’re one of those people who goes crazy for chocolate, this doughnut will make you go crazy.

It’s no surprise these doughnuts lean highbrow; Guerra’s background is in fine dining. After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Miami in 2017, he spent time in Miami working with award winning pastry maestro Antonio Bachour and at Juan Manuel Barrientos Valencia’s cutting-edge Colombian restaurant Elcielo. He moved to D.C. to help open a satellite location of the latter in La Cosecha in 2020.

Now he splits his time mostly between Donisima and MITA, the plant-based pop-up series at La Cosecha he runs with co-chef and co-owner Tatiana Mora. As spring turns into summer, he plans on rolling out new seasonal flavors. Don’t be surprised if another Donisima location pops up somewhere soon; the Guerras have had several offers to expand, they’re just holding out for the right opportunity. My inner child is excited. Joy awaits!  

Donisima, 1369 New York Ave. NE, donisimadonuts.com