When first entering Knead Dough Bar located Downtown at Gold Ave and 3rd St., the bright, airy space accented by a welcoming neon sign and artwork from local artists is a welcome sight. The second thing to notice is the pastry case full of beautiful, tempting donuts. My first trip there of course was for the donuts (my favorite guilty pleasure), but couldn’t pass up the chance to try some of their other brunch offerings.
Co-owners Chef Steph and Cisco recently returned to Albuquerque after a stint in Austin to open Knead as a plant-forward brunch and bakery spot. You’ll often find one or both of them working behind the counter, where they might tell you about their newest special dish or creative donut flavor.
During my first visit, (although now I’ve been there several times) I sampled several of Knead’s signature potato brioche donuts, including a classic vanilla bean glazed and decadent chocolate glazed with cake crumble. The brioche dough is rich, yet light and chewy. These donuts have since become a regular presence in our newsroom, with crowd-favorite varieties like key lime glazed potato brioche and acorn squash cake going as quickly as they enter the office kitchen. Even as a cake donut skeptic, I appreciated how crisp and delicate the acorn squash variety was. Many of our staff have no idea the donuts are egg- and dairy-free. The consensus opinion is that these are not only the best vegan donuts, but probably the best donuts in the city, full stop.
Knead offers many other excellent dishes and pastries aside from their popular donuts. I recently sampled a (classic New Mexico) espresso-piñon cinnamon roll that was as nuanced and aromatic as its namesake flavors. As I've come to expect from Knead’s sweets, the cinnamon roll was balanced and generously glazed. I haven’t had a chance to try their cakes yet, but I have seen gorgeous, fruit-topped layer cakes leaving the shop on several of my recent visits.
On the savory side, the Cajun Lions Mane, featuring a crispy lion's mane mushroom cake and cajun cashew sauce, is already a local favorite. The Rosemary Biscuits n Gravy feature a tender, flavorful biscuit with an herby gravy. Where so many plant-forward concepts and dishes rely on ultra-processed meat replacements, Knead’s dishes showcase the versatility of whole plant ingredients. There’s a dish for every craving on the menu. Be sure to check back regularly for monthly special dishes like August’s pesto-filled Arancini and a Creamy Pesto Pasta.
Chef Steph and Cisco are currently in the process of obtaining a liquor license, with plans to focus on New Mexico-made Wine and Beer. Soon, you might just be able to book their beautiful space for your meeting and event needs. If you love creative, fresh dishes and luscious pastries, Knead needs to be on your list of must-try brunch spots in ABQ.
Knead is located at 218 Gold Ave SW, Albuquerque
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