Let’s be real. There are healthier ways to start a morning. But the appeal of the doughnut is age-old and long-standing, sure to bring back childhood memories of those iconic pink boxes and peeking eagerly over yellow laminate counters. Nostalgia knows no diet restrictions.
These days, doughnuts–and the places that supply them–have undergone a bit of a transformation. Sure, you can still find dirt cheap coffee and a no-fuss ‘nut all around this city. But you can also find culinary feats of fried magic that never existed before.
In this list, you’ll find LA’s most serious sweets, from the fancy new guard to the old school establishments of a simpler–though equally tasty–time.
Blue Star Donuts
This Portland import brings some much-needed vice to Venice’s uber-healthy main drag. Blue Star makes their product using a French brioche dough that starts with sustainable bread flour, cage-free eggs, hormone-free milk, and European butter. If that doesn’t sound like an LA doughnut, we don’t know what does. Head there in the a.m. and grab a blueberry bourbon basil fritter.
1142 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90291
Bob’s Coffee & Donuts
There are dozens of reasons to hit up Fairfax’s iconic Farmer’s Market. Bob’s Coffee & Donuts is one of them. This joint falls under the “no frills” category of LA classics, with tried-and-true numbers like twists, bear claws, and maple bars. Their apple fritter, though, is the one to beat.
6333 W 3rd St #450, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Madagascar vanilla. Maple bacon. Country ham and eggs. Sweet or savory, Sidecar Doughnuts takes its flavors seriously. Same goes for their coffee. Sidecar teamed up with Stumptown Coffee Roasters to create two signature blends to pair with any one of their specialty snacks. Their yeast and cake doughnuts are made throughout the day, which means you’re likely to get one fresh from the fryer, whether you come during the morning rush or for an afternoon snack. Did we mention they have gluten-free options?
631 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
California Donuts is a no-holds-barred type of place, where you’re liable to find your doughnuts covered with Fruit Loops, M&Ms, or Oreos arranged in the shape of a panda face. It’s an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach that’s certainly not for the faint of heart. They’re open 24 hours. Watch out, world.
3540 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90020
If you’re looking for a place to score one of the best veggie burritos in town and an all-star doughnut, look no further than Cofax, a small coffee shop in Fairfax Village. Their doughnuts are made in-house and are of the more restrained, elegant variety, with flavors like baklava rose water and lemon pistachio.
440 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Racks on racks on racks, as they say. Family owned and operated since 1956, Primo’s has been serving up delicious doughnuts on their silver trays for six decades running. That’s a lot of dough. Their buttermilk option is cited by many as the main reason for the Westside pilgrimage. For those not desiring to experiment, Primo’s has plenty of classic cake to offer.
2918 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064
Photo courtesy of Elena Koycheva