Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Food

Welcome to the Donut Car Wash

Wash ‘n’ Nosh* from the* Jewish Daily Forward *on *Vimeo.

An Israeli-owned car wash on the West Side Highway has become the unlikely source of what may be New York’s most delicious donuts.

No, the guys scrubbing cars aren’t baking in their spare time; former chef Scott Levine, whose resume includes bygone New York foodie temple Chanterelle, where he was executive sous chef, opened Underwest Donuts in December with his wife, fashion stylist Orlee Winer.

The car wash’s proprietor, Moshe Winer, happens to be Orlee’s father and Scott’s father-in-law. And in a happy coincidence, Levine started searching for space just when room opened up inside the gigantic West 46th Street facility. “But it’s a business relationship,” Scott Levine laughs. “We pay rent.”

The treats may soon eclipse the automotive service. In deep, lush flavors like maple-waffle, brown butter, cocoa raspberry and espresso bean, Levine’s beautifully rendered donuts have become a bona fide phenomenon in the Big Apple: Today Show host Hoda Kotb swooned over them, Fox News anchor Rosanna Scotto rhapsodized over them, and some blogs have already anointed Underwest the best donut shop in New York. Levine’s halva donut — which drew on Moshe Winer’s favorite snack — even inspired an entire post on New York Magazine’s Grub Street blog “deconstructing” the flavor.

“I just wanted to make donuts that were a little more unique,” says Levine, whose days often start with a 2 a.m. baking session. Levine’s donuts are cake-based, as opposed to their airier yeast-based counterparts; all of Underwest’s production — shaping, frying, cooling, serving — takes place behind the counter of the narrow, closet-sized space at the southern end of the block-wide car wash. Levine and Winer also serve kicking Brooklyn Roasting Company coffee, pulling shots from a diminutive La Marzocco espresso machine in one corner.

Wholesale operations, and different pastries, may become part of Underwest’s future. But for now, Levine’s just focused on keeping up with voracious demand. “No matter what, we’re always going to think outside the box,” he says. In the meantime, we have a feeling many more New Yorkers will be finding excuses to get their cars cleaned.

Michael Kaminer is a frequent contributor to the Forward.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.