The founders of The Donut + Dog aren’t Nashville cats, but their restaurant is a hit in Music City.
Opened in early 2018 by Will and Nicole Primavera, the cozy restaurant was immediately named Best Doughnut by the Nashville Scene, and won third place for Best Hot Dog in the alt-weekly’s readers poll.
Now Idaho can start drooling. A second Donut + Dog is on track to open this summer at 3525 E. Longwing Lane at The Village at Meridian. A third restaurant will follow in downtown Nashville.
Why the Boise area? The California-raised Primaveras, who have two young children, did their homework. They have visited friends in the Treasure Valley and plan to get a place in Boise or Meridian.
Expansion to Idaho made business sense.
“We were quite picky about where we wanted to go,” Will Primavera says. “... We’re not a chain. And we’re not trying to be a chain.”
The restaurant, which will be just under 2,000 square feet, seems tailor-made for The Village. Combining artisanal doughnuts and craft hot dogs, it’s where two American favorites and family meet, Primavera says.
The core menu philosophy? Sweet and savory. “The sweet side is obviously the doughnuts, the savory side is our dogs,” Primavera says.
Brioche doughnuts will be new to many Idahoans, as they were to many diners in Tennessee. “OMG, y’all,” a Yelp reviewer visiting from Atlanta wrote. “... These brioche donuts are fantabulous.”
The recipe, developed by Primavera, is low in sugar and salt but high in butter and egg, he says. It takes 18 to 22 hours to make the dough, then another six to 10 hours to create doughnuts for the day.
“You’ll see when you taste one,” he says. “Essentially, it’s light yet rich and deep at the same time. And then after you eat it, you don’t feel like you’ve got a thud in your stomach.”
Priced from about $3 to $5, doughnuts vary depending on the day. A popular choice is the 99 Problems But ... . After being topped with raspberry-basil glaze and a candied lemon garnish, it’s impaled with a pipet filled with honey bourbon. Customers deliriously drizzle it on the doughnut.
Hot dogs are similarly fun. They’re served on a brioche bun that’s like a hybrid between a lobster roll and Texas toast, Primavera says. Four of The Donut + Dog’s 10 choices come wrapped or topped with bacon.
The most popular dog? The Elote Loco, a chorizo smothered in “Mexican street corn” — cotija cheese, roasted sweet corn, chipotle powder and lime. “It’s frickin’ ... amazing,” Primavera says. “Just crazy good.” At the Nashville restaurant, it comes with fries or chips for $9. Add an egg to any dog for a buck.
There also are a couple of doughnut burgers. Try to resist The Hangover ($12), two 4-ounce patties, bacon, fried egg, American Cheese and a maple doughnut.
Being from San Diego originally, Primavera likes to pour Ballast Point beers with meals.
“So we do a lot of doughnut and beer pairings,” he says. “We also have a kick-ass coffee side, as well. All 100-percent organic.”
Ah, yes. Mornings at The Donut + Dog. The signature pour is the Smoked Caramel Latte, which emerges tableside from a billowing cloud of infused deliciousness. “You visually see it, taste it, smell it,” Primavera says.
Unlike the original restaurant in Nashville — a converted house — the Meridian restaurant will be pop-art industrial inside. The design will be completely open, including the kitchen, so customers can see what goes into making a doughnut. The restaurant is expected to seat around 50 people.
“It’s going to be super cool,” Primavera says. “Roll-up door. Great music poppin’ at all times.”
“We also have a couple really cool surprises that we’re only going to unleash at Meridian. When I say really cool, I mean over-the-top stuff. At the end of the day, it’s not only our passion, it’s how we take care of our family. To say there’s a lot of thought in this would be an understatement.”