Is it Legit? 5 Things You Need to Know About the Wonut

By Sarah Freeman  |  May 6, 2014
Credit: Sarah Freeman

Half waffle and half donut: yes, you know we’re talking about the Wonut, the overnight culinary sensation that, for a second, made us think we could put Chicago on the hybrids map alongside other greats, including Dominique Ansel’s Cronut in New York. The new decadent treat is the brainchild of Alex Hernandez, who owns Waffles Café in Lakeview and the recently opened outpost in Streeterville.

The small waffle is baked and then fried, like a donut, then glazed and covered in toppings. The hysteria was prompted by an article on Thrillist, which was filled with images of waffle-shaped donuts hot out of the fryer and dripping with glaze. Since then, Hernandez has been cranking out 124 each weekday and 500 to 600 on the weekend starting at 5:30 AM.

To curb the chaos, Hernandez enlisted the help of his family, including his three siblings and his mother, who recently flew Wonuts out to New York City for an episode of The Chew. Despite the help, it would appear that Hernandez and his team running the small shops are hardly prepared for the hysteria, with demand far over-reaching supply and the quality of product being inconsistent at best.

Is the Wonut legit? We spent some time at Waffles Café in Lakeview to taste test the latest foodie craze.

  • 1. There’s No Crazy Line

    A lot of comparisons, including the name, can be made between the Wonut and the infamous Cronut. But one thing that the Wonut does not boast, yet, is a line. A few chairs were waiting outside for the four people in line at 8:29 AM on Saturday. By the time the doors opened up at 8:30, there was a whopping seven people in line, all of whom were seated immediately. Shockingly, that was enough demand to deplete the Lakeview restaurant's daily supply of Wonuts; the rest were reserved for takeout.

  • 2. You Should Preorder 

    Even if you're among the first to get a table at the Lakeview location, you'll still only be offered one or two Wonut varieties. The best way to guarantee the Wonut you want is by preordering them. Prepaid orders are limited to a dozen and taken 24 hours in advance. The orders must be picked up when the store opens (6:30 AM in Streeterville and 8:30 AM in Lakeview) and are takeout only.

  • 3. They Come in Different Flavors

    Currently, there are four main flavors: Mexican chocolate covered in chocolate ganache, birthday cake with maple glaze and sprinkles, green tea with candied pistachios and ginger and red velvet with cream cheese frosting. Hernandez is also experimenting with several rotating flavors, such as whole wheat with a toasted marshmallow glaze, as well as gluten-free cinnamon-sugar and vegan maple-glazed. Each Wonut is $2.25.

  • 4. Only Some Have Holes

    Wonuts come in two shapes: round and square. The round ones look like mini Eggo waffles and get points for cuteness. Alas, no holes, prompting an important question: can a donut-esque creation still be called a donut if it doesn’t have a hole? The square ones are slightly larger and do have the quintessential center hole. Appearance is a big selling point of these adorable pastries. They are also small enough that they are not too filling. Wonuts serves as an appetizer for…well…real waffles.

  • 5. They're Not That Great

    The chocolate Wonut masked the dry, cakelike base with a sticky chocolate ganache. On the opposite end of the spectrum was the birthday cake, a soggy heap of sweetness covered in maple glaze, sugar frosting and sprinkles.The next day, the same flavor was not sweet at all; it was chewy and the most "wafflelike" of the bunch with a slight malt flavor. The red velvet was rich with a palatable amount of sweetness from the glaze, and the soft texture had pops of crunch from walnuts. After two attempts, we weren’t able to get our hands on the green tea nor any of the other flavors supposedly available.