I was discussing Upper Valley bakery options with a coworker the other day when I made the observation that we lack a good donut shop in the area. I’m not talking your favorite New England chain’s donuts, but like, real, homemade small-batch goodness. A donut shop that only makes donuts. Then my coworker, who has lived in the area much longer than I have, says, “Well, what about that little place in Lebanon? You know, on the side street…behind the church….under the apartments.” Cue the crickets.
After a bit of an eyebrow raise at her description, a confirmation of the place’s existence with my boss (he popped in mid-conversation), and a little Googling, we determined that there is, in fact, a little donut shop in Lebanon….on a side street….behind a church….under some apartments. That donut shop would be Muriel’s Donuts at 20 West Street.
Muriel’s opened in 1967 and has been providing the area with perfectly fresh, perfectly fried, homemade donuts for decades. New Hampshire Magazine published a great write-up on Muriel’s Donuts back in 2012, describing the history in more detail. Basically, Muriel’s is the quintessential mom-and-pop shop. It’s been in Lebanon forever, the locals know about it, and many of the transplants (like myself) don’t. It’s a word of mouth sort of place. The tiny treasure you only hear about randomly in office conversations when you’re “just dying” for a homemade treat.
Muriel’s storefront is simple and somewhat hidden. Open Monday through Saturday, 10am-1pm, your opportunity for fresh-as-can be donuts is limited (although they are available at gas stations and other shops in the area too). And I can attest, as I visited soon after my office conversation, that Muriel’s Donuts are delicious. There are only a few different options; plain, sugar, cinnamon, jelly sticks, and crullers. But each one is a warm reminder of the hidden gems we can live among for years without knowing. I may not have grown up eating Muriel’s Donuts, but as a Lebanon resident now, they have a dedicated new fan for life.