Retired firefighter Raymond Peña's localebrity cachet surged when foodies discovered that this 54-year-old Galveston native had perfected a Texas version of the cronut, a half croissant, half donut pastry first conceived in New York City.
While "out-of-towners" (and by that I mean insular Inner Loop hipsters that typically don't gallivant outside of Beltway 8 because it's just too far and not cool) have trooped in to Pearland to visit Pena's Donut Heaven & Grill — in turn boosting demand for the bakery's "dosant" and upping the production from 70 treats daily to more than 330 daily — it's business as usual for the suburban folk who dwell in nearby master planned communities and visit Peña frequently.
Yes, the dosant, dosant, dosant is sitting shotgun for this wild food ride, but locals know there's more to this eatery that's nestled on a corner within an unremarkable, newish shopping strip.
The burgers at this shop — particularly the Frito Pie Burger, Bun B Burger (bacon, chili, cheddar, jalapenos), Jimmy Carter Burger (crunchy peanut butter and cheese) and the Donut Burger — are reminiscent of the type of creativity found on the menu of Hubcap Grill, with the exception that Peña does offer a veggie burger option. Hot dogs, wraps, chicken fried steak, fried baskets, Tex-Mex and deli sandwiches are also available with side of fries or onion rings.
Yet Peña's hospitality tale began with donuts, which continue to be a mainstay and the basis for the restaurant's popularity on early mornings, when it's common to overhear quite an array of conversations, like deja brew confessionals, personal drama and amicable family chit chat over coffee plus fried pastry combos.
Surely there's nothing wrong with making a trek for the dosant, though if you stick around a tad longer — and you have room for additional indulgences — give one of these donut bad boys a try.
Oreo Cookie Donut
Think of the Oreo donut as what it would feel like to play Chubby Bunny with the sandwich cookie and a glass of full fat milk. Cookie crumbs dress the crust while the cream filling peeks from the core. It's messy, so no one will judge if you get a facial of white stuff on your nose.
The apple fritter may be a traditional staple in many bakeries, but there's something about the slightly elastic, brioche-rich texture here that's to-die-for. Want to be extra bad? Dip it in chocolate milk.
Cocoa Puffs Donut
For those who go loco for Cocoa Puffs, which is a fantastic snack a capella, Peña's whimsical Cocoa Puff donut variation is a nostalgic trip down memory lane to a time when it was permissible for food to come straight out of a box. The crunch is a welcome complement to the soft cake.
Fruit Loops Donut
If you are anti-chocolate cereal, the Fruit Loops donut is a more femme version of its cousin above. Peña opts for strawberry glaze in lieu of white, the color adding a festive appearance to the playful recipe.
There's no avoiding this oversized, elongated eclair-looking pastry when giving the display case a once over. Its size alone demands attention above all other flavors. It's salty pig bonded to chewier kolache dough with sweet glaze.
No question the bacon bar is going straight to your thighs, but what option to do you have? Accept the fate.