L.A. County is home to at least 680 doughnut shops
June 9, 2019 9:40 PM   Subscribe

The doughnut culture of Southern California.
posted by Chrysostom (73 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Dunkin Donuts and KK are everywhere in the US but in Los Angele,s Donut Culture is so fierce that Dunkin Donuts has basically no presence here. I've always wodered how that came to pass.
posted by Fupped Duck at 9:46 PM on June 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

posted by aramaic at 9:49 PM on June 9, 2019

"A lone donut is seen on the street."

[Dramatic musical sting]
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 9:52 PM on June 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

I moved to California 15 years ago and one of the first things I noticed was the plethora of independent donut shops and the lack of donut chains. I live in constant mild fear that independent donut’s days are numbered.
posted by greermahoney at 10:03 PM on June 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

Eater LA's 14 best delectable doughnut shops.

My favorite donut places are Bob's (in the Farmer's Market at 3rd & Fairfax), and Primo's on Sawtelle.

Bonus: Why donut boxes in Southern California are pink.
posted by mogget at 10:03 PM on June 9, 2019 [7 favorites]

Years ago some stand-up comic observed that LA has a million doughnut shops but there's never anybody in them. It's still true. You can find a doughnut shop on almost every block but the odds are good you'll be the only customer in there. The same used to be true for Subway, but their numbers have really dwindled in recent years. (Jared probably had something to do with that.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:09 PM on June 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I have to say that the best donut town I’ve ever been to is Portland. The donut shops ain’t empty there.
posted by vorpal bunny at 10:15 PM on June 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

The reason that Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme have not made inroads in So Ca is simple. They cannot compete. Just eat one and you will see. I was on the east coast visiting a few years ago and got the craving and went to a dunkin donuts. I was shocked at how bad it was. Further tries at the airport confirmed my experience.
posted by charlesminus at 10:19 PM on June 9, 2019 [9 favorites]

I've never thought about it, but it really is true that southern California just doesn't have donut chains. It's all a zillion little mom-and-pop donut places. Huh.

And they're only empty if you go after 9 AM. You stop in a donut shop in SoCal at 7:30 AM, it's bumping.
posted by Punkey at 10:19 PM on June 9, 2019 [5 favorites]

My understanding is that Dunkin was quite good in the early days, but they cheaped out in order to go national.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:29 PM on June 9, 2019

Huh. Donuts have been a big pregnancy craving for me this time around but the ones I've obtained in Seattle just aren't, like, the platonic-ideal raised-n-glazed my heart is yearning for. I thought this was just a crummy town for donuts but maybe it's that I'm from the best town for donuts.
posted by potrzebie at 10:36 PM on June 9, 2019

As a multi-generational westerner i have always considered places like Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme to be from the eastern half of the U.S. (which they are) and not really a thing in the West in general, not just a lack of them in California. I have zero memories of either on the big road trips around the West my family did when i was a kid. I didn’t even have a Krispy Kreme donut until a trip east as an adult.
posted by D.C. at 10:43 PM on June 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I grew up in Chicago eating Dunkies, but I never loved a donut til I tried one at Dulcet Gourmet Donuts in Canoga Park. Those mom'n'pop places in LA are so far beyond the chains it's stunned me that Dunkin even attempted to butt in. (And little Dulcet was always crammed with kids and neighborhood folks, no empty tables there)
posted by biddeford at 10:50 PM on June 9, 2019

Yum Yum Donuts/Winchell's is a California chain, still way better than Dunkins.

Funnily enough the Winchell's in my small northern California town closed down and was replaced with an outpost of a very small chain of donut shops from the PNW.

Krispy Kreme was very popular when I went to college in LA but I prefer a cake donut or an old-fashioned.
posted by muddgirl at 10:54 PM on June 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm surprised at some omissions from the donut story. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley suburbs of L.A. in the 1960s, the donut scene there was dominated by two chains: Winchell's and Foster's. The parent company of Foster's went out of business in the '70s and the managers of many individual units bought out their stores. But they were a thrifty bunch and wanted to change their signs as little as possible. So I ended up seeing signs for POSTER'S, FASTER'S, FATHER'S, FARMER'S and various other one-two-or-three letter changes from Foster's, in the same sans-serif style neon-backed plastic signage.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:54 PM on June 9, 2019 [14 favorites]

But they were a thrifty bunch and wanted to change their signs as little as possible.

Heh. This reminds me of CENTURY BUFFET, a restaurant on a prominent corner in Oakland, which changed its name a few years ago to NYC BUFFET. Their new light-up sign is made up of a subset of the letters of the old sign. My theory is that the E, T, U, or R burned out.

Not sure why a bunch of the comments here qualify California with "Southern". Donut shops up here in NorCal are also predominantly independent and often Cambodian-owned and use pink boxes.
posted by aws17576 at 11:35 PM on June 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

The fierce independent doughnut store culture reminds me a little of Sydney and Melbourne's fierce independent coffee culture. We have expectations. None of your drip coffee garbage. None of these overpriced milkshakes (Australia also, coincidentally, has a thriving flavoured milk market). About ten years ago, Starbucks pushed into Australia with the arrogance of a world-beater, and after about two years shuttered the vast majority of their stores and refocused on tourists and foreigners.

Australian coffee culture has gotten only more insufferable since - I'm tickled pink by the presence of "Australian-style cafes" in major world cities, named after Melbourne streets and trafficking in espresso-based coffees with specific combinations of milk, milk foam and chocolate, bacon and egg rolls and avocado on toast, because if you're not offering that, can you really call yourself a cafe?

Yes. Yes you can.
posted by Merus at 11:48 PM on June 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

Anyway, I hope these doughnut stores make freshly fried doughnuts with cinnamon and sugar because they're the best kind of doughnut
posted by Merus at 11:49 PM on June 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

They do and the sugar crystals stick to your fingers and get absolutely everywhere and I love them
posted by Punkey at 12:01 AM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have a few beloved donut shops in LA. My main complaint is that there aren't more places making french crullers, especially good french crullers.

I would love recommendations regarding the shops that are. I know at least one Winchell's which does, and I'm told Randy's makes some that are only good if you get them really fresh, but I haven't managed that yet.
posted by wildblueyonder at 1:06 AM on June 10, 2019

I miss this so so so much. The LA dounut scene is the best.

The one thing I haven't gotten over in Chicago is finding a hot doughnut is awfully difficult. Like, seriously it is freezing. Please give me hot sugar glaze over warm pastry with my coffee. That is all I want.

Always cold Doughnuts. The chains don't even make them in store here and it is utterly depressing.
posted by AlexiaSky at 1:14 AM on June 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

Coming from the Northeast, I have never taken doughnuts seriously as food.

The other downside of our bad doughnut culture is that everything else is now seemingly made from doughnut dough to fill the gap. It is seriously hard to find a muffin or scone that's not as sweet as a Coke and as heavy as a slice of deep dish pizza.
posted by smelendez at 2:33 AM on June 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Donuts are everywhere here in southeastern NC (KK was born in NC)

A few transplants like dunkin but the yeast risen fried and glazed type rules.

In Carolina Beach at the boardwalk is the penultimate family-operated shop that's closed all winter: Britts. Lines out the door is normal there. Best combination of beach munchies and leisure time/vacation freedom ever.

And now in Wilmington there seems to be a new shop of some sort on every corner. There's small chains like Rise, Duck Donuts, Donut Inn, Fractured Prune and numerous independent shops. I don't have enough time to try them all.

A "hot now" KK is my standard by which all others are measured. Cold isn't the same. Their taste is consistent to 40 years ago but the size is reduced. Bring all your West coast donuts here. Yum.
posted by mightshould at 3:24 AM on June 10, 2019

In San Francisco, there are a plethora of Chinese food/donut restaurants. When I lived there I kept asking people why this was and finally, someone pointed out to me that they both use the same cooking equipment but no one wants Chinese food for breakfast. It's a chance for restaurateurs to work for all three meals.
posted by bendy at 3:27 AM on June 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

My main complaint is that there aren't more places making french crullers... I would love recommendations...

The Doughnut Hut has them, although they call them Curly Frenchies for some reason. Better than "Freedom Fries" I guess...
posted by jeremias at 5:57 AM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Doughnuts are impossible without gluten, and I miss them terribly.

(Cake "donuts" are not doughnuts, they're fried muffins. Fight me.)
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:03 AM on June 10, 2019 [3 favorites]


Ugh, Rise makes me so sad. I used to drive 45 minutes to Durham and wait in line for another half hour for their delicious, creative, unique, thoughtfully flavored donuts. They had a cream-filled Pineapple Basil that was divine. Then they expanded aggressively, with shops all over the area, and I was delighted. Recently they've shifted their focus to fried chicken biscuits (which are very good, don't get me wrong), as I guess they have seen the writing on the wall that the artisanal donut craze is winding down. I miss those flavors.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:18 AM on June 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

No donut post would be complete without Sweetheart (Waitress in a Donut Shop)
posted by BWA at 6:25 AM on June 10, 2019

The basic problem with Krispy Kreme is that the donuts are flavorless, empty, oil sponges that exist for no purpose except to carry the frosting. And the frosting is slathered on so thick you might as well just be eating a greasy sugar cube.

For a store purportedly selling "donuts", Krispy Kreme is remarkably indifferent to the donuts themselves. They're really in the frosting selling business, the donut is just a sort of semi-edible vehicle to carry the frosting.

I do wonder where the supposedly national chains have dominance. Because I've never lived in a place where they did.

Amarillo TX local chain Donut Stop drove out Dunkin Donuts, and when Krispy Kreme tried to open up a few stores Donut Stop got super aggressive with quality, new construction, and advertising and drove them out too.

San Antonio has a couple of Krispy Kremes and a fair number of Dunkin Donuts, but they're also rans to the local stores. Sadly the biggest local chain, Shipley's Do-Nuts, is run by total scumbags with a record of human trafficking, sexual harassment and abuse, and basically I refuse to buy from them (also their donuts are bleh). But there's a largeish number of independent, non-chain, stores around.

Where are the places where Krisky Kreme or Dunkin' are the dominant players?
posted by sotonohito at 6:48 AM on June 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

680 doughnut shops sounds like a lot until you remember that LA County has over 10 million people! That's 1 doughnut shop per 14,705 people.

Every town of that size probably has at least one doughnut shop.
posted by explosion at 6:58 AM on June 10, 2019

Where are the places where Krisky Kreme or Dunkin' are the dominant players?
posted by sotonohito

Here in Detroit, there are lots of small shops, even a couple hip ones, but also many, many Dunkins and Tim Hortons, especially in the burbs. I think there's a Krispy Kreme somewhere by Dearborn? Not a lot of those. But no chain beats out Dutch Girl Donuts on Woodward and 7 Mile.
posted by skookumsaurus rex at 7:09 AM on June 10, 2019

Sotonohito you are the first person who has ever EVER given me a reason to want to visit Amarillo. And I'm with you on Krispy Kreme.

But I had no idea LA was some kind of donut paradise and now I'm hungry.
posted by emjaybee at 7:19 AM on June 10, 2019

I try not to eat too many donuts, it cuts into my beer habit.

But when Strawberry Donuts are in season at Donut Man? Ima eating a donut. Doesn't matter that Glendora feels way out there, even for me in Pasadena - the donut is worth the drive
posted by drewbage1847 at 7:32 AM on June 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

We have Dunkin Doughnuts but they barely even sell doughnuts, they mainly sell coffee. The doughnut culture is pretty much the same from Houston to LA in my opinion. Small shops run by Asians (not always Cambodians) that are open 5am - 12:00. They barely sell coffee, and they generally have 1 or maybe 2 tables as its almost all carry-out, but with no drive-thru window so they get really cheap rent in the middle of strip malls (also ubiquitous from Houston to LA).
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:42 AM on June 10, 2019

Cake "donuts" are not doughnuts, they're fried muffins. Fight me.)

I will concede they are fried cupcakes, and there's nothing wrong with that.
posted by muddgirl at 7:56 AM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

My college at the eastern edge of LA County has an annual miles-long unicycle ride to get donuts.
posted by exogenous at 7:59 AM on June 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Blue Star is from LA and they have a few shops in PDX, it's a natural extension of the hipster coffee shop to have some hipster donuts to go with.
posted by idiopath at 8:00 AM on June 10, 2019

AlexiaSky: "The one thing I haven't gotten over in Chicago is finding a hot doughnut is awfully difficult."

Try Old Fashioned in Roseland (112th and Michigan); they are fried all day in the window and usually you can get a hot one. Also I've occasionally but not consistently had warm donuts from Somethin' Sweet on Fullerton (which BTW is Cambodian run and, some say, a bit like an LA donut shop).
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 8:02 AM on June 10, 2019

Psycho Donuts in the San Jose area is an unsettling marketing concept masquerading as a doughnut shop. Creatively-iced cake style doughnuts mostly.

Winchell's used to be dominant in the South Bay until some 20 years ago when most were suddenly rebadged as PizzaHut takeout/delivery stores. The remaining handful are now YumYum stores serving dessicant-level-dry doughnuts last time I tried them.

The last remaining Dunkin in the Bay Area went independent several years ago as well, it's now 'Sunny Donuts' in Campbell. Dunkin is working to return to the Bay Area, but I haven't seen any new stores yet.
posted by zaixfeep at 8:09 AM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

sotonohito: "Where are the places where Krisky Kreme or Dunkin' are the dominant players?"

Do you remember the bit in Best in Show where the two yuppies meet when they're sitting in Starbucks across the street from each other? That's Boston-area, but for Dunkin.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:27 AM on June 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Where are the places where Krisky Kreme or Dunkin' are the dominant players?

There are 680 Dunkin Donuts just in my suburban Boston neighborhood alone. All of them with drive-thru lines out into the street every morning from 6:00-9:00. You can't swing a dead cat anywhere in Eastern Massachusetts without hitting at least two Dunks.
posted by briank at 8:28 AM on June 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

^^ Was coming here to say the same thing as briank, only with fewer deceased animals.

They love their DD coffee, and they ain’t about to make 2 stops, so they have a monopoly on donuts there, too. Do they also still have that smaller chain, Honey Dew? (Now that I’ve written that out, it doesn’t look right. Did I make up that chain? Why would anyone name their donut shop Honey Dew? It sounds like a failed Mountain Dew flavor.)
posted by greermahoney at 9:19 AM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

In general, the sign of a great donut shop is one that simply closes when they run out. I have a friend in LA who is a donut fiend, and when I visit, he will wake me up at ungodly hours so we can get the good ones.

"680 doughnut shops sounds like a lot until you remember that LA County has over 10 million people! That's 1 doughnut shop per 14,705 people. Every town of that size probably has at least one doughnut shop".

That math doesn't check out though when you subtract the chains. I live in a town outside Boston that is 28,000 people and if you take away the Dunkin Donuts (which as others have mentioned you should, because they suck)- there is nothing else. A non-scientific search shows me that the nearest "indie" donut shop near me is a 25 minute drive away.
posted by jeremias at 9:19 AM on June 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

1) I can confirm that the strawberry donuts at Donut Man in Glendora are worth the hype.

2) This is the perfect time to tell you all about Donut Rally.

I went to Harvey Mudd College in Claremont (east LA County) for two years, and I lived in a dorm that celebrated excess. More fire. More drinking. More donuts. We had donuts at dorm meetings, donuts at parties, donuts that some sober person went and got when everyone wanted food.

And there was Donut Rally.

The rules are simple: you and your team have two hours to drive to as many donut shops as possible. At every stop, everyone must eat half a donut. At every fifth stop, everyone must eat an entire donut. At one point in your journey, you must visit the Donut Man and eat a large donut (a bear claw, an apple fritter, a tiger tail [which is a donut I still dream about: a twist with cinnamon and chocolate striped into the folds. When they're fresh, tiger tails are heavenly], etc). You must call into Donut Central (aka the dorm lounge) with updates. You must keep a log. You may not use a map. If anyone pukes, they are disqualified, but everyone on their team must continue to consume the puker's share of donuts. Whoever visits the most shops and returns to Donut Central within the two hour time period wins. Bribing the judges (aka whoever is sitting in the lounge and answering the phone) is encouraged.

I did this freshman year, and our team was enthusiastic but naive. We didn't go for the raised glazed as much as we should. We didn't think to make our visit to Donut Man our fifth stop (where the Whole Donut and Large Donut rules could be met concurrently). One of our team members booted, which meant we had to consume their share of donut. We were all swollen and sick, but, what the hell. It was a good time that I swore I would never do again.

The next year, I was Donut Central. I should add that this was 1992-1994, so cell phones were out of everyone's budgets. My room was next to the dorm lounge, so I just ran a long phone line out of my wall, sat back, and took everyone's reports. I was bribed and got to give bonus points for entertaining me or bringing me donuts. One team thought it would be "funny" to bring me a box of puke as a "gift," so I docked them a million points. It was a good time that I would have done again, had I continued going to Mudd.

Flash forward to 1998. I get a call from my friend, John, who has since graduated and is living a few miles from Mudd. "Dude! It's Donut Rally! We need you and Ken!" Ken is my housemate. He also went to Mudd. He has also sworn never to do Donut Rally again. Yet, John makes a compelling case: he has a fast car, he has a housemate (another Mudder) with a voracious appetite who can take any donut buffer, and he has a cell phone. What the hell. Ken and I are in. We drive out to Mudd, sign the Alumni Team into the Donut Rally Log, and we're off.

And we were on. We knew the area, we knew how many places we had to visit, and, best of all, we were merciless to all the other teams. We went to Donut Man early and bought out everything except the densest and heaviest of donuts, all so the other teams would have to suffer their way through Bavarian cremes and cinnamon rolls. While everyone else had to struggle to find pay phones and made the rookie mistake of going in together, we worked like a well-greased machine: John drove, Ken called in, I leapt out to take our orders, and JC ate. We all ate, but it didn't hurt like that brutal freshman year Rally. We brought our spoils back to Donut Central, who awarded us points for ingenuity, deviousness, and bringing Donut Man donuts to Donut Central. It was a good time that I will never have to do again.
posted by RakDaddy at 9:23 AM on June 10, 2019 [17 favorites]

Why would anyone name their donut shop Honey Dew?

Yep! We still have them here, although I haven't walked inside one in probably 30 years. In terms of the name: according to their website, the founder "came up with the name for his future company, “Honey Dew Donuts", during a high school English class."

Which sounds about right, lol.
posted by jeremias at 9:24 AM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

And there was Donut Rally.

I want to see a movie of this.
posted by mordax at 9:25 AM on June 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

The Sporkful did a great 2 part podcast on the history of Cambodian-run donut shops. Sadly, the episode is paywalled behind Stitcher Premium but the episode page still has pretty good notes.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 9:42 AM on June 10, 2019

To grow up in LA and move to Boston is to experience wild donut whiplash, let me tell you. I am proud to say that I have properly indoctrinated my children who can now appreciate the difference between a proper donut and whatever it is they sell at dunkies. (This understanding seemed to set in around the time they could tell the difference between bagels and round bread.)

What's amazing to me is that they're simultaneously incredible, everywhere, and cheap. Somehow the donut (and taco) makers of California have solved the iron triangle in a way nobody else can match. I can find a good donut in Boston but they're a half hour away and five bucks a donut.

We have a recurring fantasy involving a year internship at an LA donut shop followed by total dominance of the New England donut market. We used to stick to some regular favorites when we visited back home -- going on 5am donut expeditions is one of the only upsides to a jet lagged toddler -- but honestly the variety is so good and the quality so high everywhere that we haven't gone to the same place twice in years and we just keep finding amazing donuts.

(That said, when I say I miss donuts from LA, what I'm thinking about is still-warm buttermilk bars from Primo's.)
posted by range at 9:54 AM on June 10, 2019

I can confirm that there's a Honey Dew near my MIL in Worcester. But Donut Cafe is your best option in that area.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:08 AM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

It is very appropriate that Mefi thread on donuts brings out all the Mudders. We don't just eat donuts, we ritualize them.
posted by muddgirl at 10:12 AM on June 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

You can find a doughnut shop on almost every block but the odds are good you'll be the only customer in there.

As someone who lives basically next door to Primo's, I can conclusively state that this is not true, especially not in the mornings, when there is in fact frequently a short line out the door. However, Primo's is closed after 4 PM, which is a severe trial to me when I have a post-work donut craving, but what're you gonna do.

I did feel a little better when, one evening at around 6 PMish, I witnessed the tragic sight of a car full of college aged looking women in the parking lot bounce out of their vehicle and walk cheerfully up to Primo's only to learn of this tragic 4 PM closing hour fact right then and there. Misery loves company, etc. Sorry, donut cravers, you'll have to go a couple block away to the Winchell's.

Anyway, a friend visited me in LA once and was like, "wow, you guys have a lot of donut shops," and I was like, "really? I don't think we have an abnormal number," and she was like "yeah, no, you do," and then I realized that I have always lived within a block or so of a donut shop and that, perhaps, this was outside of the country-wide norm.
posted by yasaman at 10:14 AM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

I lived in a dorm that celebrated excess

WIBSTR! The fact that I had somehow mixed together in my mind the unicycle-propelled "Foster's Run" and Donut Rally, two events I realize now could hardly be more different, probably says a lot about my HMC experience.
posted by exogenous at 10:28 AM on June 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Dunkin is working to return to the Bay Area, but I haven't seen any new stores yet.

There is a Dunkin Donuts store on Snell Ave. in South San Jose (within walking distance of my house!) It took over an Arby's location.

My preferred stop for work doughnuts is at Rollo's Doughnuts (opens at 4:00 AM).
posted by JDC8 at 10:56 AM on June 10, 2019

I'm surprised at some omissions from the donut story. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley suburbs of L.A. in the 1960s, the donut scene there was dominated by two chains: Winchell's and Foster's.

Yep. Winchell's stood toe-to-toe with the mom-and-pops throughout my 80s childhood in LA. Then the riots happened and after that Krispy Kreme made this weird, brief appearance in the mid-to-late 90s before going deservedly (mostly) away.

And through it all, Randy's still stands as a tourist trap and you have new, chic places like Trejo's Coffee and Donuts, too.

But none of them can, as of yet, topple the mom-and-pop for sheer presence. And that's a good thing.
posted by linux at 11:12 AM on June 10, 2019

I will just note that there is now a Voodoo Doughnut in Universal Orlando, and over the counter is a black velvet painting of Carrot Top.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:20 AM on June 10, 2019

Going beyond LA County because you can't pay me to go there....

We went to Oliboli in Tustin this weekend and they were just fantastic. The secret is that they don't put the donuts in the case -- they keep them in the back on a warmer, with just a few up front on display so you know what's for sale. Also, they're just good donuts. The yeasted were light with a little funk from the sourdough. The cake were moist and not too heavy. Very chocolaty chocolate. Some of the best I've ever sampled from what I think of as "artisanal" donuts.

I was told that Oliboli was founded by someone who came from Sidecar in Costa Mesa, and I believe it. Sidecar used to be my go-to for fancy donuts, but OB beats them. Mags's is also good, so is Ace and then a step down you've got Star, Surfin' down in San Clemente, and all the other mom and pops. We just have so many options and providing you hit them when the stuff's coming out of the fryer, you're usually guaranteed a treat.

Honestly, St. Louis has a similar love for donuts (makes sense, since the World's Fair is supposedly where America fell in love with the donut) and that's the last city I lived in where donut shops were similarly prolific and inventive.

There's a decent fancypants donut shop down in Carlsbad called The Goods but it's mostly just fancy for the sake of fancy. I think they still need to work on their formula. Peterson's in Escondido is still where it's at in San Diego. 24/7, cash only, always a line.
posted by offalark at 11:23 AM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

I think my workplace keeps at least 2 donut shops afloat with our 14,000 people. Mostly people don't spontaneously wander into the donut shops before work. What drives most of the business, I think, is "donuts" is the unofficial standard penalty for things that technically aren't against the rules but just Aren't Done. Running late for work? Bring donuts. Forgot your smart card and people need to let you in the door all day? Bring donuts tomorrow. Called in sick Monday after volunteering for weekend OT? Donuts. Strangers in the elevator seeing you carrying a box of donuts will ask, "what did you do?"

They are good donuts, though, not chain stores.
posted by ctmf at 11:39 AM on June 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Yeah, it's definitely a thing here in LA to roll into work and see the magical pink box of goodness. They appear randomly and are always a treat.
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:45 AM on June 10, 2019

There is a lovely donut place on the east side of Las Vegas called Donut Hut, it's run by a Cambodian gentleman known effectionately as Rambo. He accepts cash only and sells cruellers that are fantastic, but they're only available starting Thursday night through Sunday morning, and only really fresh late at night and very early in the morning. The place closes down by noon every day. That's a great fit for Vegas though.
posted by skewed at 11:45 AM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Honestly the best donut shop in California is the one you can walk to. The second best shop is Donut Man. If you live in walking distance of Donut Man then you are living the dream.
posted by muddgirl at 12:01 PM on June 10, 2019 [5 favorites]

Yet another Mudd graduate come to heap praise on the strawberry donuts and tiger tails of the Donut Man. In my day the student activities committee would bring a bunch in every week, so they weren't high effort, but still just shockingly good.
posted by Maecenas at 12:17 PM on June 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

> exogenous: My college at the eastern edge of LA County has an annual miles-long unicycle ride to get donuts.

I see you and raise (heh) you the Krispy Kreme Challenge. A five mile run where you have to eat a dozen donuts at the halfway point.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:46 PM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

When I first came to LA in 1981 I heard that the annual per capita consumption of donuts there had just passed that of hamburgers. Can't attest to how accurate that is now (or was, then).

And seconding Bob's in the Farmers Market. I haven't eaten a donut since I was diagnosed pre-diabetic, but I'd make an exception for a Bob's glazed.
posted by Rash at 3:36 PM on June 10, 2019

I like that donuts is what got all of the Mudders to show up.
I recall the winners of donut run in the early 2000 era also consistently smelled like Otto's jacket, which seemed somewhat unfair. One of the few times THC is performance enhancing...
posted by flaterik at 3:38 PM on June 10, 2019

also I really don't like strawberries so I definitely never got to fully enjoy the donut man experience :(
posted by flaterik at 3:39 PM on June 10, 2019

Just checking: Is there a joke in the fact that the difference between a donut and a doughnut is "ugh?"
posted by duffell at 4:04 PM on June 10, 2019

Fuckers are making me SO homesick!
posted by Space Kitty at 7:04 PM on June 10, 2019

Here's a previously with the backstory on how Dunkin got to be lousy.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:14 PM on June 10, 2019

I admire the fact that Donut Man has been open 24 hours a day for decades. Even if it's 3 or 4 in the morning, that is no barrier to enjoying the best doughnut period.
posted by mubba at 7:42 PM on June 10, 2019

another mudder checking in. (and the last time i went to donut man, it was closed because of a holiday. stupid holiday.)
posted by jimw at 12:30 AM on June 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

I don't know about the new hipster joints, but virtually all the coffee at the independent doughnut shops in LA is crap. No matter how long it's been on the burner it's never replaced by a fresh pot until some poor slob pours the last drop into a foam cup. And cleaning the pot is an innovation that eludes 99% of the owners.
The places with air pots where you pump out a pale brown fluid are equally dismal. It is possible to have weak, bitter, lukewarm, and stale coffee all at the same time. One might think that packing that much failure into a fluid is not possible, but I'm here to tell you it's more common then not.
I still love me a doughnut, but these days I'm more inclined to have a pan dulce, a Mexican sweet bread. If you go to a place where they are baked on premise it will be at least good, and might be great. Coffee might not exist at one of those joints, but the quality goes a long way to make up for the lack of a suitable hot beverage. I've been known to get a pan dulce or two and then drop by McDonald's to get some coffee that will be reliably OK and never outright bad. (Micky D always keeps the brewing equipment clean and it will never be allowed to sit around for too long.)
Sadly, the days when you would always see a cop where doughnuts were found are long gone.
posted by Metacircular at 3:41 AM on June 11, 2019

I'd always heard a rumor that the LAPD specifically banned on-duty, in uniform officers from going to donut shops to fight that image. No clue if it's more or less than hearsay, but there we are.
posted by drewbage1847 at 7:09 AM on June 11, 2019

This past weekend I saw a decommissioned cop car, presumably purchased at auction with the police insignia hastily obscured with paint. The new owner had added a bumper sticker to the car: "D.A.R.E. to keep cops off donuts."
posted by duffell at 12:12 PM on June 11, 2019

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