When I was a kid, my town was packed with doughnut joints that had sit-down counters and waitresses that wore beige polyester uniforms and poured coffee into brown ceramic mugs...yes, the 1970s, bad years for fashion, but good years for doughnuts. Well, Verna's has that kind of homemade goodness with the thrill of a little kitsch thrown in. Go into the unassuming building on Mass Ave. and you will find an oasis of plump, fresh, unimaginably good doughnuts gleaming off the trays at you.
Now, you may ask, what makes an outstanding doughnut? The first thing you will notice about Verna's is that the doughnuts are about double the size of a regular doughnut, with a little heft to them. Basically, they're the size of NY bagels and twice as heavy. You may look at the dazzling array and the cheap prices and think, "I'll take ten." But be warned, if you try to eat more than one of these bad girls in one sitting, you will soon realize just how filling they are. And that's part of the old-fashioned charm for me, the idea that you can buy a single doughnut and a plain cup of coffee for two dollars and walk away feeling that you're filled up and ready for the morning.
Not that picking just one is easy. They have an army of tempting creations: the boston creme doughnut with custard filling and your-grandma's-fudge-frosting on top, the chocolate twister, the cake doughnuts like blonde inner-tubes covered with everything from snowy powdered sugar to cake crumbs to coconut. And the secret criteria by which I judge all doughnut joints: they offer not only raspberry jelly doughnuts, but the elusive lemon jelly doughnut.
The ladies behind the counter are goold ol' Massachusetts gals, and the few tables inside are filled with regulars. Just be sure you get there before noon...Verna's closes her doors at 4 p.m. on most days (earlier on the weekend), and you can bet those freshly made lemon jelly doughnuts are probably gone by noon.