The “seeking gourmet donuts” crowd and the “needing to get my car washed and detailed next to the highway” crowd don’t overlap much in Manhattan, which I imagine is why so few people I talk to have been to Underwest Donuts.

I’ve been slightly obsessed with this place ever since I first drove past it I don’t know how many years ago. There’s a small sign for it on the side of the big, glittering CAR WASH beacon that lights up the intersection of the West Side Highway and West 47th street midtown, right across from the military planes resting on the Intrepid.

Photo: Raphael Orlove

(The exact address is 638 W 47th St. New York , NY 10036 212 317 2359, as it states on their website, if you’re curious.)

Photo: Raphael Orlove

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Just to reiterate: I love the Westside Highway Car Wash. Supposedly it’s the second-oldest car wash in the city and the biggest in Manhattan. Importantly to me, it seems to be the place where everyone takes their sports car for a wash before going clubbing, or where all the limo and car service operators go before having to pick up celebs and whomever. Friday night is an experience over there.

Photo: Raphael Orlove

But! I never had an excuse to go try out the donuts, as at first I didn’t have a car in the city and then when I did get a car in the city I never bother washing it.

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Not the Maybach, but illustrative of the clientele.
Photo: Raphael Orlove

That is, I didn’t until I borrowed a Mercedes-Maybach S560 superluxury sedan, drove it to Maine and back and then desperately needed to get it cleaned inside and out. It had played host to a dog for a weekend, and needed professionalism with its cleaning I could not provide.

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So off I dashed across Brooklyn and into Manhattan, rushing once I realized that Underwest Donuts has weird hours. (Mon: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tues-Fri: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun: 7:30 a.m. to 3 a.m.)

Photo: Raphael Orlove

I nipped in at about ten till three, just in time to get two donuts and a coffee. My options were limited as closing was imminent, so I went with one dark chocolate and one halva. Both were little cake donuts, perfect for having with a coffee while a team of guys armed with various towels and vacuums descended upon the Maybach.

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Photo: Raphael Orlove

And yes, these were some quality donuts. The halva one was milder than I might have liked, but was sweet and salty in a very satisfying way.

Photo: Raphael Orlove

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The dark chocolate was the one to get, though, like a really good piece of chocolate cake, only much more concentrated. I ate it illegally parked in front of where people warehouse the horse carts that take tourists around Central Park. The grey slabs of midtown loomed overhead and for a moment, it felt like every New York City stereotype was made real. It was worth the whole trip just for that.