Duffin’s Donuts

Eustace Haltiwanger

by Eustace Haltiwanger

I was sitting around the other day listening to the fifty greatest trucking songs of all time when those woeful tales of the big rigs belching smoke from their stacks and waving their mud-flaps at the speed-traps put me in mind of this wonderful establishment. Hunkered down at the corner of 41st and Knight, the exhaust and roadway-debris dusted windows of Duffin’s Donuts look out on one of the busiest trucking route intersections in the city. Whether you’re Bud the Spud rolling east back to the PEI red mud or been six days on the road heading north from Washington to the Okanagan, you’re probably bound to pass through this part of town. How many truckers pull over their eighteen-wheelers for donuts and coffee or a bite to eat to counteract the amphetamines is entirely up for question but us locals in the know with nowhere to go at say, 3 in the morning, make the journey for some of the most eclectic 24-hour menu selections in the city.

Duffin's Donuts 24 hour Pleasure Palace

Duffin’s Donuts 24 hour Pleasure Palace

Doughnuts don’t even begin to tell the tale of this joint when you gaze up at the fantastically colourful and backlit menu signage behind the counter and you realize you’re in for one of the most singular dining experiences of your life. For there in all their photographic glory are images of Mexican torta sandwiches, Fritou fried chicken, hamburgers, all-day breakfast, Chinese food, Vietnamese noodle soup, Vietnamese sandwiches and not pictured but available daily, beef and chicken tamales and a variety of pupusas. Really just the tip of the edible iceberg here with its deep-fryer and griddle working overtime to deliver untold pleasures on to your Styrofoam plate.

These are donuts that Stompin’ Tom, if he were still alive, would place with pride as a centerpiece on the dinette table of his double-wide.

On a recent visit I took along my good friend and old confidante, Lizard Baby, pictured in the accompanying photos. I brought him along not just for his pleasant company and refined palate (even though he does have a penchant for disgusting insects that he’s able to snare off the windowpanes), but also, in the photos, to show a sense of scale next to the magnificent and hearty foods.

Mexican Torta sandwich

Mexican Torta sandwich

It’s the Mexican torta sandwiches served up on their home-baked birote bread that truly call to me. I’m a big fan of the chicken and the machaca, a spicy shredded beef but the chorizo and egg or any of the pork constructions are equally satisfying. All sandwiches arrive with lettuce, tomato, avocado and hot banana peppers tucked between their toasty interiors. And with every sandwich costing less than five bucks I can pretty much pay for one of these beauties with change I scour for on the street.

I do urge you to eat in and really immerse yourself in a clientele as varied as the menu offerings

Lizard Baby loves Fritou Chicken

Lizard Baby loves Fritou Chicken

Lizard Baby and I retired to my car for our Fritou chicken feast because for some reason I just enjoy eating chicken off my dashboard. All I can say is if that guy Meatloaf sang about seeing paradise by the dashboard light then he must’ve been spreading a couple of Fritou chicken thighs and fondling some Fritou chicken breasts because this juicy, succulent and tender poultry is better than any kind of sex or whatever the hell that Meatloaf guy was warbling about. Fritou is a chain that began in Quebec but has made its way cross-country supplying the proper machinery to those eateries deemed worthy to dish up this breaded chicken available in both regular and spicy. By the way, get it with the fries because the fries at Duffin’s are excellent.

Duffin's Donuts

Lift Lid for Lard Love

Décor-wise Duffin’s really harkens back to the 1985-1991 days when the Cold War was in its second phase and pre-fabricated furniture needed to be indestructible should there be nuclear Armageddon. These tabletops and molded booth seats, like a cockroach’s carapace are built to withstand and endure the blast and aftermath of any nuclear holocaust.

Lizard Baby and I enjoyed our dashboard dining but I do urge you to eat in and really immerse yourself in a clientele as varied as the menu offerings. A previous visit found me chowing down next to a dreadlocked guy and his pal who looked like a cross between Kevin Federline and Don Knotts. They were discussing a rap video they were going to make that, according to them, was a form of rap that had never been done before. Every once in a while they would stop and take a few hits off a weed vaporizer that sat on the table and occasionally dreadlocked guy would hold up his sandwich and yell “machaca” for no reason in particular. No one paid them any attention or batted an eye, even the family in their Sunday-best who looked as if they’d just come from church and were enjoying some chicken two tables over. In the cash line stood a head-banger in a long black overcoat, the sides of his head shaved leaving just a strip of hair down the middle forming a long ponytail and around him were more of the usual and unusual denizens of the street.

Duffin's Donuts Boston Cream

Nuclear Armageddon headed your way? Duck & cover and take 2 of these for instant relief.

Honestly, dining doesn’t get better than this, especially if you follow up your meal with a half-dozen donuts, my favourite being the Boston cream concoction. These are donuts that Stompin’ Tom, if he were still alive, would place with pride as a centerpiece on the dinette table of his double-wide. What more can I say except you might need some Rolaids after a visit to Duffin’s, but who doesn’t when food is as good and invigorating as these fine offerings.

Location: Open 24 hours at 1391 East 41st Ave., Vancouver, (604) 325-5544

Duffin's Donuts on Urbanspoon

And now for your listening pleasure….

And if you dare…

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