When Chambers met Wil Drake, founder of Birmingham’s Hero Doughnuts & Buns, he discovered they both share warm memories of crashing Krispy Kreme with their fathers. He quickly bought into Drake’s nostalgia for doughnuts, became a partner, and, within a year, opened two more Hero shops, including an Atlanta store that arrived in Summerhill in July.
At Hero, Drake’s buttery brioche is the mother dough for a collection of extravagantly puffy glazed and filled doughnuts; savory, sausage-stuffed kolaches; and loaded sandwiches.
For me, the most noteworthy Hero creation is the Super Crunch: a miraculously tender, stunningly crisp, deep-fried chicken breast tucked between a sesame-flecked brioche bun and moistened with sweet pepper jam and house “cracked sauce,” a mayo-based condiment with a hint of spice and cider vinegar. The classic burger, with lettuce, tomato, pickle, Duke’s mayo, mustard and American cheese, is another dangerously delicious thing stuffed in a bun.
From the doughnut case, I adored the strawberry, coconut, pistachio and cereal milk. I’m not the biggest chocolate person, so the chocolate glazed and Boston cream-filled doughnuts were less appealing. The Krispy Kreme-inspired original glazed was good, and a good bit puffier than an actual Krispy Kreme, but I believe it was a little past its proverbial “hot light” prime. Still, I’m not ready to write it off. I also have my eye on the bread pudding doughnut (made with day-old doughnuts soaked in cream, brown sugar and eggs) and the apple fritters.
Drake’s doughnuts, while often quite good, aren’t likely to convert the sugar-shy masses — a la Krispy Kreme. But, that chicken sandwich! It’s addictive enough to cause me to make a U-turn.
HERO DOUGHNUTS & BUNS menu includes doughnuts, plus breakfast and lunch sandwiches. Service is dine-in, takeout or delivery via UberEats and DoorDash. There is outdoor dining available with a patio and a covered space shared with Hot Dog Pete’s.
33 Georgia Ave. SE, Atlanta
7 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
By Wendell Brock, For the AJC, AJC.com
Photo by Wendell Brock