Written and Photos by: Matt Bevan
Fried chicken and donuts are two guilty pleasures not often enjoyed together. Well Federal Donuts is doing its best to change this.
Business partners Mike Solomonov and Steven Cook have turned Philly into something it has never been before: a donut destination. It doesn’t hurt that in addition to hot and fresh donuts that are made to order, Federal Donuts four locations serve some of the best fried chicken this author has ever had. Federal Donuts only does two things—chicken and doughnuts—and because of this, they can focus on and do them both right.
The fresh donuts’ flavors range from usual (think cinnamon sugar), to unusual, like their strawberry-lavender donuts, and they all come out piping hot. In addition to the made-to-order donuts they offer an assortment of aptly named “fancy donuts.” These fancy donuts come in flavors like Lemon Meringue and my personal favorite Butter Pecan, and they are limited; so when they’re sold out, they’re gone for the day.
As far as fried chicken, Federal Donuts offers either half or whole chickens with a selection of both dry rubs and glazes. Their varied choices here range from expected classics like Buttermilk Ranch, to interesting additions like a Za’atar dry rub and a Chile-Garlic glaze. All whole and half chickens come with one fresh honey-glazed donut. They also offer a chicken breast sandwich on a potato bun with dill-pickle chips, a slice of yellow American and cheese and a healthy slathering of their house-made Buttermilk Ranch sauce. When I go to Federal I will often just get two sandwiches — they are amazingly crispy and the Ranch sauce is delicious.
When a meal contains both fried chicken AND donuts I’ll usually stick with water to drink. (Beach season is right around the corner after all.) If you want something else Federal sells Dr. Brown’s sodas as well as coffee, because what is a donut shop without coffee? They also claim to sell beer however I have never seen anyone order a beer at their 7th and Fairmount street location.
Prices at Federal Donuts are fair with a half a chicken running $9.25, a normal donut comes out to $1.50 and a “fancy” one $2.50. Their chicken sandwiches, which I am personally recommending, end up being $6.25. You can also get deals on half and full dozens of donuts.
Federal Donuts has four locations in Philadelphia: 7th Street and Fairmount Avenue, a short drive from Temple’s Campus; one in Center City, one in University City around Drexel and Penn— 1632 and 3428 Sansom Street— and a final location (which is the original) on 2nd and Federal streets in South Philadelphia.
Online you can get Federal Donuts full menu, as well as seasonal donuts (a little late but think valentines day mini-donuts) on their website. Let me be the first to warn you: they have a long and slightly cheesy cinematic opening to the website, but it’ll blow you out of this world.