What, exactly, is a donut? At The Daily Meal, we define a donut as an item that you would expect to see in a donut shop: the familiar ones we know and love (of both the raised and cake varieties), like crullers, apple fritters, and other donut-shop classics — you know them when you see them.
So, in order to assemble our most-recent ranking of the 25 best in the country, we more than doubled the number on the previous list from the year before. We stuck to strict criteria in looking for the best individual donuts in America: Freshness is key; are these legendary donuts — ones that inspire cultish devotion to the shop that sells them? We considered both plain glazed and extravagantly topped creations, but there needs to be a balance between all the components, be it bacon or blueberry jelly. Most importantly, these donuts need to be almost too good: fresh, soft, gooey, perfectly proportioned, and intended to leave you wanting just one more bite. There were over two dozen we believed deserved to be included on our list, and as it turns out, one can be found in San Francisco.
Bob’s, a Golden Gate City landmark, serves world-class donuts 24 hours a day, but the best time to visit is in the late evening, when the donuts are at their freshest. The friendly staff will walk you through their selection of freshly fried rings, but forgo the giant glazed donut in favor of the apple fritter. Big, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and filled with apple and cinnamon, it’s nothing short of crave-worthy.
It’s so good, it made it to #23 on our national list, and since it’s the only one from the city to make our ranking, it’s also the title winner of the best donut in San Francisco.