Randy's Donuts (Los Angeles)

The history behind LA's iconic donut shop


Consider this map of Los Angeles. Play punchbuggy while driving around the city, subbing donuts for VWs and you will crash. It feels like L.A.has more independently owned doughnut stores than many other American cities, (remember, they don’t have Dunkin’ Donuts), and then there's the cool factor of the leftover architecture from the defunct Big Donut Drive-In chain. Any discussion of L.A.‘s best donuts (and even some of the country’s best) inevitably brings up many of the same characters, among others: Stan’s, Bob’s, Fritelli’s, Donut Man, Tang’s, and… Randy’s Donuts.

Randy’s is the most well-known of the four remaining shops of Russ Wendell’s original Big Donut drive-in shops topped with the old-school, 32.5-foot donuts (not to be confused with the smaller versions atop Angel Food Donuts). Randy’s is Wendell’s second branch, built in 1952. Supposedly, it was sold in 1976 to Robert Eskow, who named it “Randy’s Donuts and Sandwiches” after his son. Two years later, he sold the store to his cousins, brothers Larry and Ron Weintroub. But enough history.

The area is seedy, the parking lot full, there’s a line of cars waiting to order, a line of people doing the same, and no sense of urgency behind the counter. If you have to, scream a little bit inside, and bite your tongue (n.b. set aside a half-hour for this adventure if you’re en route to the airport). It will give you time to consider which of the more than 60 kinds of donuts and muffins you want to try.

Everyone says the Apple Fritters are the best, and they’re good, but so are the Coconut Raised, and Glazed Donuts. Pretty much everything. Light and airy where they’re meant to be, moist and sweet, with that fry and sugar smell. No sooner have you taken a bite than you’re thinking about the next flavor.

If you love donuts and you’re looking for the best in the country, there’s a great list by John Edge to start checking off. It includes Doughnut Plant, and Shipley’s Donuts, which we’ve noted before. But, L.A. is the home of the donut, literally— the spelling, sans the ‘ugh’ originates from the Los Angeles Times circa 1929. If they’re not already, somebody should be hitting each donut shop and blogging them “I’m going to eat every slice of pizza in New York-style.” There’s a book deal there somewhere.

If you want to hit some of Los Angeles’ iconic, buzzed-about donut shops, check these places out:

Remaining Big Donut Topped Shops:
Randy’s Donuts, 805 West Manchester Avenue, Inglewood
Kindle’s Donuts, 10003 S Normandie Ave, Los Angeles
Donut King 2, 15032 South Western Ave, Gardena
Dale’s Donuts, 15904 Atlantic Avenue, Compton

Other “Must” L.A. Shops to Check off Your List:
Stan’s Corner Donut Shoppe, 10948 Weyburn Ave, Los Angeles
Bob’s Coffee & Donuts, 6333 W 3rd St Ste 450, Los Angeles
Tang’s, 4341 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles
Donut Man, 915 E Route 66, Glendora

Out of the Way but Worth the Trip:
Psycho Donuts, 2006 S. Winchester Blvd, Campbell


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1 Comments

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There is actually a fifth Big Donut that has survived, it's in Bellflower and sells bagels. Also, the donut on Randy's is 32.5 feet tall, not 50 -- the owner confirmed with a tape measure for a book on roadside attractions. The Bellflower location features a donut on a pole out front, and it looks to be around 20 feet tall.

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