Donuts are having a moment. And by having a moment, I mean they were invented like 200 years ago and they’ve been popular literally all over the world ever since and constitute a multi-billion dollar industry. But in the larger context of space and time, what is 200 years if but a moment, you know? Since L.A. has some of the best doughnuts in the world, it would be stupid to let the world turn black and fade to nothingness without eating these 19.
This Glendora doughnut shop is an absolute institution and the seasonal strawberry donut is the main reason why. When that sticky strawberry goo melts into the fried dough and creates fruit pastry singularity—there’s nothing in the world like it. I’d say something about grabbing an extra napkin, but that’d be like shooting a BB gun at a tank. Probably just hose yourself down after.
This is like the first-gen gourmet donut. Stan’s predates all the new school basil-infused sugar and Grand Marnier pastry cream donuts, but the 40-year-old Westwood corner spot was on the cutting edge when they filled perfectly fried dough with fresh bananas and peanut butter and slathered it in chocolate.
The doughnut calls itself brioche. It bathes itself in herbs and fine liquor. It is the quintessential hipster doughnut, and it’s also the reason everyone finally admitted that the hipsteriffication of pastries is largely a good thing. Portland, you’re ok by me.
This is the best cronut knockoff in L.A. All you need to know.
Donuts at full-service restaurants should be a bigger thing. And we alone have the power to make it happen by continuing to patronize those making strides in the space. Plan Check’s crullers—which could pass as a churro if shaped differently—come with whatever fruit’s in season and served on a bed of pastry cream and they are fantastic.
Cake donuts are normally a sad travesty compared to their superior raised counterparts. Not at Bob’s. Their cake donuts still have that glutenous chew and taste nothing like their competitors’ dried-out-boxed-cake-mix. HONORABLE MENTION: Bob’s might also have the best custard-filled chocolate bar in the city. Also eat that before you die.
DK’s is on the forefront of L.A.’s shock-doughnut movement—they have like six varieties of cronut knockoff and something called a pizza doughnut—but they’re also responsible for some legitimately unique and tasty combos. Like this. Ube is a Filipino purple yam, and it gets infused into a cake donut then topped with its own crumbs.
Ok, ok, ok—so it’s definitely just a mediocre glazed doughnut that’s bigger than other mediocre glazed doughnuts. But Randy’s is a pop-culture icon, and you owe it to the city of Los Angeles to take a selfie in front of their giant donut structure thing and you might as well buy something while you’re there.
The Froot Loops might cut up the roof of your mouth when you bite into it, but if you won’t physically bleed for nostalgia and whimsy, you need to reevaluate your priorities in life. California Donuts might not have the best fried dough recipe, but they play the numbers game better than anyone and have like 35 kinds of donuts topped with breakfast cereal and it’s an experience you can’t get anywhere else. Before the world goes black and you return to dust—put this in your mouth.
S’mores doughnuts seem to be popping up everywhere now. S’mores doughnuts named after militant vegan and probably racist vocalists are pretty specific to Donut Friend though. Naming aside, they execute the nostalgic classic perfectly—a well-torched marshmallow and curve-to-curve chocolate and graham crumb coverage.
You know the excitement that washes over you when you’re about to bite into a hot doughnut filled with cold lemon curd and covered in crunchy coarse sugar? Well you’re about to.
Half vanilla glaze and half chocolate, it’s a super tasty and well-executed nod to the Jewish deli classic black and white cookie. And if you don’t know what that is, just think soft serve chocolate vanilla swirl, but in cookie/doughnut form.
It’s the kind of doughnut that will restore your faith in all things classic. You get the tang from the buttermilk, it’s perfectly crispy, and the fry oil has penetrated the dough to the perfect depth.
Savory doughnuts should be more of a thing, and Sidecar is on the forefront of non-sugary fried dough evangelism. The Country Ham and Egg is filled with—well—country ham and a poached egg, and then it’s given a basil hollandaise injection and topped with some fresh basil. You know, for the ‘gram.
Chopped pistachios and lemon zest on an intensely chewy yeasted doughnut blends the genres of old and new, hipster and artisanal, fancy and not. But more than that, it’s just plain delicious. Enjoy it with some Stumptown coffee and a breakfast burrito.
The doughnuts are only the second best food item at Birdies—their chicken sandwich is stupid good—but they are still phenomenal. And the cinnamon-laced horchata twist with a thick and fudgy dulce de leche glaze is the best of the bunch. They’re also open 24 hours on the weekends. Take advantage of it.
It might’ve been Voodoo Doughnuts who introduced the world to maple bacon doughnuts via multiple Travel Channel shows, but it was Nickel Diner who came in and perfected it. Chewy bacon is chopped into tiny bits with some unrendered fat still there to provide extra moisture and doughnut lube and it sticks perfectly on that fragrant maple-glazed doughnut.
“If it’s not fried, it’s just a bundt cake.” Yeah? Well writing a “Bundt Cakes in L.A. to Eat Before You Die” list would’ve made us look insane, and Fonuts is perfect for what they are. So lay off, man. Anyways, their Strawberry Buttermilk don’t-call-it-a-doughnut is baked but it’s miraculously never dry. Fonuts is also fun in case you ever want to feel like an L.A. stereotype. Sometimes it’s nice.
Dip this cafe con leche goodness into your warm cup of a joe for a godly experience. Trejo’s donut is topped with an espresso and vanilla infused glaze, dark chocolate crumble and chocolate covered espresso beans. Need we say more?