You never know when your next favorite place is going to pop up. Living in Las Vegas, we never have a problem finding places to eat or drink, but the challenge is always finding the new and exciting places that are the oasis of the desert. Sure there are a lot of unconventional guides online telling you the best places to eat in Vegas, but only if you want to spend half your paycheck on one meal. The reality is there are plenty of places to experience that are affordable and unique to Las Vegas. One of them I found today; Carl’s Donuts. It’s the unique local places that truly allow you to experience any city or town like a local. I stumbled upon Carl’s by accident this morning and had I not been volunteering for a spot on a local TV network morning show, I would have never known.
How Carl’s Crossed My Path
Not only do I work full-time, but I also volunteer a LOT and am an active board member with a small Chamber of Commerce about 20 minutes from Las Vegas in Boulder City. It’s the town that built the Hoover Dam, filled with historic charm, but I’ll have a special Boulder City eatery coming soon! Anyhoo…I was asked at the last minute to do a 2-minute interview for the Chamber about an upcoming event this weekend at our Fox affiliate KVVU. I met another board member there, Pam from 28 Sunflowers Photography, and we walked down the halls escorted by Tim at Fox 5 to the Green Room.
The room was all fancy schmancy with white couches, black sequined pillows and immediately to my right is the holy grail of donuts. A. Wall. Of. Donuts. The wall was back lit by the most glorious red and a sign in the middle, almost vintage that read “Carl’s Donuts” in script “Famous Since 1966” was in a ribbon just below that. It was like I had met my soul mate. Sorry hubs.
The first thing I did was say to Pam “Oh. My. Gawd. A wall of donuts! I need this in my house!” And I proceeded to grab my phone and snap Instagram worthy pics. I was in awe of this donut place, considering I’m pretty aware of the donut shops in Las Vegas AND Henderson. Well, maybe not awe, but I definitely was shocked that there was a place I hadn’t heard of. It was obvious that Carl’s sponsors the Green Room because not only did the wall of donuts adorn the room, but there were two (2!) boxes of FRESH donuts just staring at me! I kindly declined the donut offer from the producers, because we were about to go on air. I could see these were no donuts to rush into and devour.
Fast forward 10 min; we finished out spot. The first thing I did when I got in my car was map out where this Carl’s was. I was on a mission and I needed to get coffee anyhow. My plan was to stop by Sunrise Coffee for my coffee. Then I was heading to Carl’s for my donut. Well, all of that derailed and quickly as soon as I walked into Carl’s. I had no idea what kind of donut shop I was walking into. Clearly my taste buds took over at this point.
Donuts. I have such fond memories of donuts as a kid! Well, let’s be real; I have fond memories of food in general. #foodie I mean this is how I came to blog about food! You can’t be a restaurant blogger if you don’t love trying new things, right?! So let me say, this is not your old donut shop, well, it kinda is, but not. Think of it as a retro donut diner, but with fancy pastries and other baked goods. Does that make sense? The fancy pastries and donuts reminded me of the ones we found at District Donuts back in New Orleans in August. Carl’s has some pretty unique creations!
I was immediately greeted by Brock and the other two employees when I walked in the door. Friendly and genuine like they had known me all my life. I let them know I saw their donut wall at the TV station which is what led me to them (in social marketing we call that a “lead magnet” and this was GENIUS). Three cases of baked goods were staring at me; one full case of the classics:
- Chocolate Bars & Maple Bars
- Old Fashioned
- Chocolate Devils Food Cake
- Chocolate Bavarian Cream
Another case I didn’t even look closely at. And the other case which had savory items like a thin crust pastry pizza, ham and cheese croissants, cheese danishes and some other delightful goodies.
Brock was incredibly helpful and he indulged me in sharing a bit about the history of Carl’s. It’s still family owned and this is their first retail location. They have wholesaled donuts out of their warehouse close by, mainly to hotels, resorts, and convenience stores. I dug up some other fun stuff, like this wasn’t their first retail donut rodeo. It looks like they had retail outlets, but decided to focus more on wholesale to fill a niche in the convenience store industry. They have a pretty incredible story which you can read here!
I asked Brock to tell me the best donuts in each case. It’s safe to say that my one donut theory went STRAIGHT out the front door the moment I walked in so half a dozen was what I was getting. He suggested the Old Fashioned, the Chocolate Chocolate Cake, the Raspberry Cream Cheese bar, the fresh fruit filled, the ham and cheese croissant and any of the danishes. I actually took him up on many of his suggestions; I bought 4 of his suggestions, an apple fritter (they use fresh Granny Smiths!), a Chocolate Bar. Who walks out of a donut shop without a chocolate bar? Not me.
So? How Was It?
These donuts were exactly what I had expected. It’s hard finding good vintage donuts that you remember as a kid and these were just that. Sure there were some fancy ones like the Raspberry Cream Cheese and the fresh fruit filled, but those are always fun every now and again. Bottom line is if you’re looking for a terrific place to have a donut, Carl’s is your joint. You’ll find fresh donuts, pastries, muffins and even some savory items at an affordable price where everyone, even the kids, will be happy.
I was also pleasantly surprised to find out they serve Vesta Coffee which is a local Las Vegas coffee roaster. A local business supporting a local business. That’s what it’s all about. Now if you want to find Carl’s, they are at 3170 E. Sunset Road, Las Vegas. They are the corner tenant in a white strip mall with a big red sign. You can’t miss it! Stop by and grab a dozen for the office, clients, or the family and tell them the Espresso Explorer sent ya! I know I’m taking the kid and the hubs back this weekend and can’t wait to try their savory items!
Pop this on the list of places to visit when you come to Vegas. Locals, go check ’em out! There’s plenty of parking, seating and friendly faces! If you went, comment below what donut or baked item you had so I can give it a try! Keep exploring friends! You never know what you’re going to find!