I typically kickoff my Saturdays by doing the opposite of jogging, which consists of me driving to donut shops while I pass by people running on the sidewalk. After months of strict adherence to this routine, I feel expertly qualified to assess the state of donuts in Los Angeles. In no other city have I seen such an abundance of non-chain donut shops per square mile. I had no desire to try them all, but I did make it my goal to try the most critically acclaimed and to decide for myself which warranted repeat visits and which were inexplicably overhyped.
An assortment of ICDC donuts that all taste…the same?!
To say I was very excited to try a place dedicated exclusively to donuts and ice cream would be an understatement. I expected a lot from ICDC, but was disappointed. The donuts all looked beautiful and came in an interesting array of flavors, but they all tasted like fried pizza dough (with slightly different fillings and toppings). They didn’t seem to have a real cake donut, only the risen kind, and the closest I could get was of the gluten free variety, which was grainy and left a strange aftertaste.
Randy’s Donuts, plain and simple
I can only assume that Randy’s Donuts is famous because of its larger-than-life donut sign after tasting their product. While fresh, the plain glazed was dense, doughy, and chewy. The vanilla cake donut with vanilla icing did not taste as fresh and had very thick, hard icing, and the chocolate old-fashioned donut with chocolate icing tasted nearly devoid of chocolate with perhaps a hint of cocoa powder. The apple fritter was the best of the bunch – cinammony, appley, crunchy, and sweet in all the right ways. If this apple fritter had been fresh enough to be slightly warm, it likely would have joined the ranks of my elite donut list.
A cake donut so good from Cofax that it bears repeating now
The winner for best vanilla cake donut (even after repeat visits) is Cofax Coffee’s birthday cake donut. It looks like a simple vanilla cake donut with vanilla icing and rainbow sprinkles, but it is light and delicate and has a fine crumb. It tastes like a superb vanilla cupcake, but deep-fried.
Sidecar’s pumpkin fool donut, two angles
My favorite risen donut goes to the November 2015 seasonal offering at Sidecar Donuts in Santa Monica – the pumpkin fool. This donut was fresh, had pumpkin mousse filling, was topped with real homemade whipped cream, and my favorite, a sprinkling of chewy ginger molasses cookie chunks. My only qualm is that there were not enough of these cookie chunks! If you’re going to go through the trouble of making the cookies and using them, you should really show them off!
I would also highly recommend visiting Blue Star Donuts on Abbott Kinney Blvd, even though the Portland, Oregon location inexplicably tastes better (see last years blog post about my adventures in the Pacific Northwest). Their glazed buttermilk donut is my favorite. And of course, when fresh, an apple fritter from Bob’s Coffee and Doughnuts at the Farmer’s Market never disappoints.