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Hole foods - St. Petersburg's best donut shops

Donuts have a long history in Russia, and were one of the few fast-food offerings available in the Soviet Union. A combination of nostalgia and the current fashion for all types of street food has brought donuts back into the spotlight, and there are now plenty of outlets in the city where you can enjoy this sticky snack.

The word for donut in Russian is ponchik - except in St. Petersburg, where they are referred to as pyshki. It's one of the minor linguistic differences that delight locals and fuel the (mostly) friendly rivalry between Russia's current and former capitals. The classic pyshka is a simple ring of deep-fried dough dusted with sugar, and it's this type of donut that played a key part in the childhood of anyone over 35 in Russia. The traditional pyshechnye ("donut shops") serving this type of donut are usually easily recognized as they follow the Soviet command economy trend of no branding or signage except the type of establishment or wares on offer - pyshki or pyshecnye - above the door. Alongside these nostalgia-rich outlets, there are also chains and individual shops offering Western-style donuts with fillings and frostings of all varieties.

Selected donut shops:

Dating back to 1958, this legendary downtown café is one of the best places in St. Petersburg for pyshki - traditional plain donuts dusted in sugar - as well as offering historic atmosphere and a friendly house cat.
This low-cost café near Vitebsk Station serves up donuts and ice cream - traditional childhood favorites - in a nostalgic atmosphere of Soviet kitsch that includes large donut-themed Socialist Realist murals.
Pyshka-Pyshka
Donuts $
A tiny food outlet serving pyshki - the classic ring donuts with sugar coating that were an intrinsic part of Soviet childhood - and other traditional sweet snacks, this no-frills café offers filling budget fare on Vasilyevsky Island.
Pyshki on 9th Line
Donuts, Pastries $
A budget eatery serving traditional pyshki - St. Petersburg-style donuts - this tiny café just off Bolshoy Prospekt on Vasilyevsky Island offers filling sweet snacks and a taste of city tradition.
Pyshechnaya on Kuznechny
Donuts, Pastries $
Small basement food outlet offering pyshki - traditional Russian donuts - and other baked goods with tea and coffee at rock-bottom prices. Located directly opposite the Kuznechny Market.
Tsar-Pyshka
Donuts, Pastries $
A budget local chain of fast-food outlets, Tsar-Pyshka serves donuts with a selection of fillings and toppings, as well as other simple snacks at five outlets round the city. Lacking atmosphere but very cheap.
Ponchkoff
Donuts, Pastries $
A small chain of donut shops modeled very closely on a famous American retailer, Ponchkoff is a reliable source of coffee and a huge variety of glazed and filled donuts of the kind small kids love.
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