If there was one food that could potentially solve all this world’s problems, it would, without question, be the mighty donut. There’s no denying the universal peace bringing powers of this circular delicacy, and its wonderfully satisfying abilities have a profound ability to just make a day in Los Angeles even better than you thought the sun kissed California city could serve up. And so, here’s our round up of the very best donuts in the City of Angels.
This Koreatown staple takes the award for most Instagrammable donuts in the city. In a town of #influencers, this donut almost needs its own modeling agent. The variety of offerings is beyond extensive, and there’s definitely a choice for all your donutty moods - from colorful glazed, to old traditional, donut holes, to outrageous additions and toppings. While there are certainly a wide spectrum of various flavors including horchata and matcha, the emphasis here is on a colorful appearance. The psychedelic smorgasbord definitely deserves praise, and there’s definitely an impressive artistry to their presentation, but for me, it’s the donuts’ unique texture that stands out. The yeast donuts have an almost bread like quality about them, with the fluffiest of insides and a gratifying chew that will carry the sweetness of the glaze with a giddy euphoria. And better still, these guys are open 24/7, making it the perfect stop after a night of KBBQ and tragic karaoke.
Trejo’s Coffee and Donuts
You can’t miss this little corner standalone building on Santa Monica boulevard. It’s literally an offensively bright millennial pink that will blind you from a mile away. But the donuts are exactly what you want on a Monday morning on your way to work. Simple, fresh, and tasty. Actor Danny Trejo’s love for quality food that doesn’t reinvent the culinary wheel brings a substantial bite that isn’t showy or pretentious. They won’t be the fanciest looking donuts, but creations like the margarita donut definitely showcases Trejo’s edge with a sparkling white frosting and a charming sweetness complemented by lime and a hint of salt. Other noteworthy items include their pineapple fritters and a slightly left-of-center nacho donut, with jalapeño, chives, hot sauce, and cheddar cheese. Because, you know, California.
A friend of donuts is an even better friend of mine, and this Highland Park eatery stands out for not only hand-making their donuts, often at times painstakingly, one by one as you order them, but also because the results are a wonderfully sweet and flavor rich bite. They do need a “these donuts may need to be shared” warning though, as they can be pretty heavy, in both their size and in their sugariness. The X-Ray Speculoos, a raised donut stuffed with cookie butter (and I mean, aggressively stuffed), and then covered in chocolate glaze, with a resulting inability to talk for the next 30 minutes. The Hot Rosewater Music donut is a personal favorite, covered in lemon rosewater glazed and roasted pistachios, a food pairing that could work almost anywhere. Oh, and side note, all their donuts are vegan. I make it a side note, because you will seriously walk out of here not even realizing this fact, because you’re too obsessed with how good they taste.
Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken
The East Coast chain hit downtown Los Angeles in early 2017, and brought with it not only some of DTLA’s tastiest fried chicken, but also the unusual pairing of freshly made doughnuts. A delicate balance of yeast in the recipe results in a deliciously light and fluffy doughnut, which is topped with an array of different vibrant glazes and energetic seasonal toppings that rotate throughout the year. One of the chain’s most famous doughnuts, the Crème Brûlée doughnut is flame torched in front of you, presented with all the satisfying elements of the desert: the audible crunch of shattering a shiny caramelized topping, and a beautifully silky smooth vanilla custard.
Blue Star Donuts
If there’s one thing that I may at times be envious of Portland, it’s their mouthwatering abundance of great donuts. Now, lucky for Angelenos, one of the Pacific Northwest’s most celebrated donut names is available on our doorstep, with two locations open - Manhattan Beach and Venice, and another store to come soon to Silverlake. They serve a god mix of both yeast and cake donuts, and honestly, to be brief, they’re just quality, upscale donuts that tick all the boxes. They’re as tasty as they look, with locals raving about both their O.G. brioche ring donut dipped in their house-made Horchata Glaze, and their lemon poppy cake donut. But personally, I start getting emotional simply thinking about their incredible Raspberry Buttermilk cake donut. A electrifying shining red glaze of fresh raspberry puree, smothered over a indulgently delectable chocolate cake donut. It’s perfectly moist, with the most faultless outer crunch you’d pray for in a cake donut, and the tartness of the raspberry couldn’t ask for a better bed partner than the divine chocolate base.
Sidecar Doughnuts has a reputation for being the place to get the best doughnuts in Santa Monica, and their insistence on sourcing the very best of ingredients for their seasonal glazes is one reason why crowds are drawn to this place. What one might initially see as the simplest of varieties, like the butter-and-salt doughnut, is intensely flavorful. There’s a wonderful brown butter deepness that comes through every bite, given life with just a hint of salt. It’s actually confusing how captivating the flavor is, and fresh out of the oven, still warm, makes for one of the city’s truly greatest bites. Their Maple Bacon doughnut with Vermont maple syrup glaze and crisp Niman Ranch bacon is worth fighting over, and their Huckleberry doughnut gives a playfully pleasant tartness. But moreso, Sidecar also manages to produce what could be close to the ultimate doughnut texture - the most delicate of outer crispy casings into a dreamlike pillow base. It’s a doughnut that brings a totally wondrous textural narrative with each bite, and will be singlehandedly responsible for straining the relationship with your financial planner as you empty your weekly savings into dozens of these tasty treasures. A true doughnut fan would plan a cross-country road trip to visit the country’s best shops.