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Krys Stanley

DONUTS – Cheap or $, American, Asian

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Where are the best places for donuts in California?

IMO, donuts are not something that are a SF Bay Area thing. It seems they are more popular in SoCAL, but I may be wrong. Or are good donuts, with a few exceptions, something you can only find east of the Rockies? As a transplanted New Englander, I hope not.

Searching the California board there are recommendations for BOB’S DONUTS in SF which I think are the only American donuts made from scratch in the city. Also mentioned are DESTINO’S donuts and Chinese donuts at TON KIANG.

Other than French beignets, Mexican churros and Polish punski, I’m not too familiar with other ethnic variety of donuts. I hope people will tell us what other types there are and who makes them in California. Chinese donuts?

This San Francisco Chronicle article discusses ethnic donuts (filhos oliebollen eappelflappen sufganiyot loukoumades sfenj bugia Bunuelos) as well as some places to buy them like THE PORTUGUESE COMMUNITY CENTER, OSO-ONO MALASADAS, and PANANDERIA HERNANDEZ (mmmm bunuelos and Mexican hot chocolate).

The best jelly donut in the area is the one I had at PILGRIM’S KITCHEN in Belmont. Large, puffy completely encased in fresh powdered sugar, the raspberry jelly oozed all over. I was covered in confectionary sugar, my fingers sticky with jelly. It was like being seven years old again.

I am in love with the fried to order beignets at BOULETTE’S LARDER ($7 and always on Sunday). Someone on this board mentioned that there is a difference between New Orleans beignets and classic French beignets. I never knew this and just thought that Boulette was heads above Café du Monde in New Orleans. I hear there are other good places for beignets in SF, but haven’t tried them.

MOSCOW AND TBILIS BAKERY STORE on Geary have donuts that looked like Polish punski. Huge yeasty donuts filled with custard or cherries. Very good if a little greasy.

North of the Golden Gate I just discovered DONUT ALLEY across from Emporio Rulli in Larkspur. Very much like Bob’s and made from scratch. I like the little forty cent buttermilk donut hole. I can get my buttermilk bar fix without all the calories. Scroll down to Day 3 for a description of Healdsburg’s FLAKY CREME donuts that will make you drool. New to Emporior Rulli’s delights, I will be keeping an eye out for seasonal bomboloni and zeppoli. What ARE the shops that sell MARK CARTER'S donuts filled with Syrah jelly or dipped in Dagoba chocolate?

What is happening in the East Bay donut wise? Is Lafayette’s JOHNNIE"S any good? What about RUDY'S DONUT HOUSE in Castro Valley? Anything else noteworty?

I lived in San Jose many years ago, but don’t get down to that area very often these days. This SF Chronicle article mentions malasadas , a Portuguese donut found at the PORTUGUESE BAKERY in Santa Clara. This wonderful sounding bakery is at the top of my list to try next time I get down that way. Did COPS DONUTS ever open in Freemont? I hear that LOU'S LIVING DONUT MUSEUM in San Jose and STAN'S DONUT SHOP (scroll down) in Santa Clara are the good.

The best donuts I’ve had to date are up at Apple Hill. These can match any donut in the country. I always make a special stop during the fall when I’m on my way to Lake Tahoe. The apple cider donuts at ABEL’S APPLE ACRES were warm, cake-y, with a deep apple cinnamon taste. The grease factor was perfect ... not greasy but full of flavor. The exterior had a slight crispness with the light perfect interior. Only fifty cents will buy you a bite of paradise.

In a dead heat with Abel’s are RAINBOW'S donuts which have a little less cinnamon. I do think Rainbow has the best apple cider in the area. The cake donuts at LARSONS APPLE BARN were moist, mildly spiced with chunks of apples. Not up there with Abel’s or Rainbow, but good. The donut’s at HIGH HILL RANCH were ok, but, IMO, not worth the wait in line. They had plain (cake), glazed, crumb and walnut varieties. The plain cake donuts had visible bits of apple but didn’t have that slightly crisp exterior that both Rainbow and Abel’s had. The glazed were too sweet and soggy. The crumb and walnut are only available on weekends (went during the week). BOA VISTA OARCHARDS had both raised and cake apple cider donuts, each type could be had plain or glazed. Both were oversweet and lacking apple. In addition they had a stale taste to them. The cake donuts at BOLSTER'S HILLTOP RANCH were a little too greasy without noticeable apple pieces.

Here’s a SF Chronicle article about donut tasting and a Sunset article about some of the donut shops mentioned.

Well, MAYBE there are good donuts in California, just a little hard to find. What have you found? Which of the above shops do you like and what's your favorite variety?

Are some of these over-hyped? I have to tell you, if I didn't KNOW Bob's were made from scratch, I wouldn't think they were that special. I've never caught them hot from the fryer though. This ancient article was what caused me to seek out Bob’s Donuts which are described as “puffy fried versions with a thin crackling glaze, cake varieties that crumble with each bite and buttermilk bars with just a hint of tartness” I never thought that, but it did send me on a quest for the perfect donut. Thanks to the writer.

What is happening donut-wise in Southern California? Are there places located in the Central Coast where I can take a break from the long SF to LA ride and enjoy a good donut, beignet or whatever?

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Re Central Coast doughnuts--I don't know if they're made from scratch or not, but in San Luis Obispo, I thought Sunshine Doughnuts (S. Higuera) were very, very good. They occasionally sold the elusive cream-filled-no-frosting.

I had the same apple cider doughnuts from Apple Hill--marvelous. In Sacramento, Plum Blossom bills itself as a Chinese eatery and bakery, but I didn't care for their Chinese doughnuts--much heavier than others I've had.

Just returned from the Netherlands, where I feasted on oliebollen and appelflappen. I don't know if California doughnuts will ever measure up.

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California Central Coast doughnuts: general listing

Allbrights Donut Shoppe

1055 Water St,  Santa Cruz, CA

New Leaf Community Market

1134 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 

Ferrells Donuts - The Original Store

Santa Cruz, CA

Good to know GG the next time I'm in Santa Cruz. Which of these is your favorite? What should I select? Alas, my metabolism is such that I can no longer due extensive samplings of donuts. I have to select the best of the best.

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I like the Farrell's and Allbright's ... the stuff from New Leaf will be organic and more healthy .. not a bad thing but also not something for a vacation splurge!! :laugh:

Best baked goods yet in this area?Gayle's Bakery (sorry, I forgot this before!) :blush:


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I like the Farrell's and Allbright's ... the stuff from New Leaf will be organic and more healthy .. not a bad thing but also not something for a vacation splurge!! :laugh:

Best baked goods yet in this area?Gayle's Bakery (sorry, I forgot this before!) :blush:

Thanks. Gayles looks good. How's their chicken. Would this be a good place to stop to pick up picnic food for a day at the beach?

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Gayle's is incredible!! Take it from me, absolutely top notch!!


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Re Central Coast doughnuts--I don't know if they're made from scratch or not, but in San Luis Obispo, I thought Sunshine Doughnuts (S. Higuera) were very, very good.  They occasionally sold the elusive cream-filled-no-frosting.

I had the same apple cider doughnuts from Apple Hill--marvelous.  In Sacramento, Plum Blossom bills itself as a Chinese eatery and bakery, but I didn't care for their Chinese doughnuts--much heavier than others I've had.

Just returned from the Netherlands, where I feasted on oliebollen and appelflappen.  I don't know if California doughnuts will ever measure up.

Thanks so much. What exactly is a Chinese donut? Is it sweet. I know there is a non sweet version that you dip in jook. I forgot the name of it (but it does have a colorful history). I don't think it is yiu tiao which is the Chinese donut mentioned in the Mark Carter link in my post. Could you tell me a little about what a Chinese donut is. You think after living all these years in SF with the wealth of Chinese bakeries that I would know.

Lucky you. If you ever find a local version of the donuts you tried in the Netherlands, I hope you'll report back.

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I like the Farrell's and Allbright's ... the stuff from New Leaf will be organic and more healthy .. not a bad thing but also not something for a vacation splurge!! :laugh:

Best baked goods yet in this area?Gayle's Bakery (sorry, I forgot this before!) :blush:

Gayle's Bakery & Rosticceria does not make donuts.

Donut shops near Santa Cruz. Dunlap's* is good, as I recall, but I haven't eaten a donut in 10 years, easily. Don't bother with New Leaf: while they are a wonderful health food store, they will not give you the satisfying trashy ingredients necessary for a decent donut.

*An especially appropriate name: my Granddaddy always called someone overweight "Dunlap." Why? "His stomach done lapped over his pants."


Edited by tanabutler (log)

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Gayle's Bakery & Rosticceria does not make donuts.

That I knew, hence the use of the term 'baked goods' ... but was thinking more about Gayle's Danishes and Croissants which are delicate and buttery:

dare you to look at the variety!! :wink:

I look at it every single time I take my daughter to work or pick her up. That's how I knew there are no donuts at Gayle's. Well, that and being a loyal customer for upwards of a dozen years at least.

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Hate to say it but I'm not much of a donut fan. That said, Stan's Donuts in Westwood Village near UCLA is a classic that lots and lots of people swear by.


So long and thanks for all the fish.

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California Central Coast doughnuts: general listing

Ferrells Donuts - The Original Store

Santa Cruz, CA

Is it still true that the only way to get the good hot and fresh ones are by knowing what time in the middle of the night your favorite comes out of the oil? In school, I had friends who made the 4 a.m. run for theirs. (I'm not a doughnut fan, but guessed Frrells would pop up here.)

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I stopped by the Portuguese Bakery in Santa Clara yesterday to try the Malacadas (Sugar Doughnuts).

Shaped like a fritter, Malacadeas have the taste and texture of a Mexican churro. Covered with granulated sugar on the outside, the interior looks like a cream puff with large holes which, in my case, were filled with strawberry jelly.

They weren’t bad. I might go back some time during the morning when they are fresh from fryer. I made it in the door just before closing. The web site also mentions different sugar doughnuts called Filhos. The woman at the bakery said they were the same, just called different things on different islands. I never think of Portugal has having islands, but I forget about the Azores.

This link has recipes for both malacadas and filhos. They seem a little different. Looking at the recipe, I see there are lots of eggs in both. The interior of the malacada was a deep egg yolky color.

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I stopped by the Portuguese Bakery in Santa Clara yesterday to try the Malacadas (Sugar Doughnuts).

Shaped like a fritter, Malacadeas have the taste and texture of a Mexican churro. Covered with granulated sugar on the outside, the interior looks like a cream puff with large holes which, in my case, were filled with strawberry jelly.

They weren’t bad. I might go back some time during the morning when they are fresh from fryer. I made it in the door just before closing. The web site also mentions different sugar doughnuts called Filhos. The woman at the bakery said they were the same, just called different things on different islands. I never think of Portugal has having islands, but I forget about the Azores.

This link has recipes for both malacadas and filhos. They seem a little different. Looking at the recipe, I see there are lots of eggs in both. The interior of the malacada was a deep egg yolky color.

My mom is from Hawaii (note my tiki avatar) and we have ancestors from the Azores. Just like the Chronicle article says, a lot of people moved from the Azores to Hawaii many years ago. I grew up in Sunnyvale and we'd get malasadas at that bakery in Santa Clara every few weeks or so. It brings back memories. I haven't been there in over a decade.

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