What do tamales, cheeseburgers, doughnuts and scoops of cookie dough all have in common? They involve dough, and they were chef Dan McGuirt’s favourite foods when he was growing up. He’s the owner of Joe Dough, a tiny, mainly takeaway diner on the Kings Cross edge of Darlinghurst. “Of all the things I've cooked, doughnuts are the only thing I truly enjoy. It's because of how hard it is to do,” says McGuirt, a former barbeque-meat specialist (he ran now-closed venues Jazz City BBQ, Jazz City Diner and an earlier iteration of this new venue, Jazz City Joe Dough).

It took him seven months of experimenting on his days off to perfect his doughnut recipe. Rather than making cake doughnuts like many other Sydney bakers, McGuirt prefers the airy, light and bread-y appeal of yeast-raised doughnuts. “We're also doing [yeast-raised] doughpucks, a small hockey-puck-shaped doughnut; long johns, elongated doughnuts that we add cream or jelly to; and buttermilk crescent doughnuts.”

With the all-natural recipe done, he went to work on other doughy projects. “I want everything to relate back to dough,” he says. Whether it’s the bread on his Reuben sandwich, the buns on his classic American cheeseburger or his tamales, everything here is baked (or in the doughnuts’ case, fried) on-site. The tamales are traditional Mississippi-style. “In Mississippi they changed [the Mexican recipe] by adding the masa dough flour (maize-based dough) and a meat filler. Then they wrap it in a [corn] husk and submerge it in a spicy cumin-tomato broth. We’ll serve it with sautéed crackers, coleslaw or pickles.”

Although the kitchen is barely bigger than the average bus stop, it takes up most of the venue. There’s just a few tables (each with stools styled like stacks of doughnuts) and a front counter pouring American-style filter coffee and glazed doughnuts or scoops of cookie dough to go. For those who didn’t eat hunks of cookie dough as a child, it is literally just that – an unbaked, dense, sickly mass of sugar, flour, butter, salt and egg, served either in a cone or a cup.

Joe Dough
4/106 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst

Tue to Fri 1pm–9pm
Sat 8am–9pm