A Starving Actor's Guide to LA Donuts
If you’ve even just glanced at my Instagram, you know I LOVE DONUTS. I once waited two hours in line for The Salty Donut popup in Miami and suffered severe sunburn as a result. I maintain it was fully worth it. Living in LA has provided ample fuel to my fried dough passion. Donuts are to LA what cupcakes are to DC. Everyone has a favorite, and people are loyal. Sure, I have my opinions, but I have never been one to say no to a fried treat topped with chocolate. Here are my thoughts on some of LA’s donut hot spots.
*This list a work in progress. Please, please email me any spots I need to hit up next. I will drive wherever for a good donut*
1. Sidecar Doughnuts, Santa Monica
Top of the list because it is top of my heart. Sidecar makes the freshest, most mouthwateringly delicious donuts in town. I have never once been disappointed. Some favorites flavors of mine? Well, the Maple Bacon is my go to always. But a close second is the the Country Ham and Egg. It is raised and filled with poached egg, Benton’s ham, and a house made basil hollandaise sauce. They also have terrific seasonal flavors. I’m currently obsessed with their Chocolate Peppermint donut. Plus, a portion of their monthly flavor sales go to a charity of their choosing. So you’re doing good while stuffing your face.
2. Primo’s Donuts, Westwood
Easily my favorite mom and pop donut shop in LA. Their list of flavors includes buttermilks, cinnamon butterflies, and chocolate-covered raised and hand-rolled glazed twists. My personal favorite is the Maple Log (sensing a trend?) These donuts are so good that on National Donut Day, I waited over an hour in line to get my hands on their goodies.
3. SK’s Donuts and Croissant, Fairfax
This strip-mall donut shop is the perfect place for your 24 hour donut needs. It feels like they serve every flavor you could ever imagine. For a while, SK’s was also the only place in LA (that I knew of) to get a Cronut, or as SK’s calls them, a “SKronut”. Now that Dominique Ansel has come to town, he might give SK’s a run for their money. But SK’s does have at least one thing on Ansel—low prices. SK’s is so affordable! And oh man are their cronuts good! You can’t go wrong with a plain, classic SKronut but my favorite is the strawberry, Nutella SKronut loaded up with fruit and chocolate.
4. California Donuts, Koreatown
Another classic 24 hour donut stop. If you haven’t seen California Donuts on Insta, where have you been? They are famous for adorable panda, oreo donuts and loading up their fried treats with cereal. Taste-wise, they are not my favorite donuts in town, but they are the kings of custom orders. They make their donuts into letters that you can top with anything you like. So if you are looking to go all out for a donut lover’s birthday, California Donuts is your spot.
5. Fonuts, Beverly Grove
Okay. Fonuts will be the first people to tell you that their treats “replicate the taste of donuts.” They are baked or steamed, not fried to give a “modern spin” to a classic dessert. I strongly object to anyone calling these cakes donuts. They are heavy and dry out so quickly. Sadly, they are the closest “donut” shop to my apartment, so I have wandered in a time or two out of convenience and donut desperation. With a bunch of gluten-free and vegan options, Fonuts is so Los Angeles it hurts. Don’t call Fonuts donuts. They aren’t. Favorite flavor for when I am in a bind? Vanilla Latte. It is good. Just not a donut.
6. The Donut Man, Glendora
Headed to Palm Springs for the weekend? Take the long way and stop by The Donut Man. They are known for their donuts loaded up with strawberries. Lots and lots of strawberries. These guys fruity fried treats are seasonal though, so make sure you do your research before schlepping all the way to Glendora. There other donuts are good, too. But let’s be real, you are here for the strawberries. Or peaches. I haven’t experienced their donuts loaded up with peaches, but it is for sure on my list. Next summer, I guess.
7. Blue Star Donuts, Venice
Abbott Kinney’s contribution to the LA donut scene, Blue Star Donuts are perfectly fine. Definitely not my favorite, and if I’m on the West Side, I’d much rather just drive to Sidecar. At almost $4 a donut, they just don’t fully do it for me. Not as moist as I would like. But they are really pretty, and if I had to get one I’d pick the PB and J Brioche or the Real Maple Bacon. But for calories on Abbott Kinney, I’m more likely to cross the street to Salt and Straw.
8. The Church Key, West Hollywood
I had heard tales of how good The Church Key’s donuts were. No amount of hype will do them justice. The first time I tasted them, I was speechless for a solid 90 seconds. They serve just one flavor—mini brown butter glazed brioche. They are perfect. PERFECT. You can order them to-go, but I recommend ordering them fresh in the restaurant. They come out hot and oozing. They are so moist; they practically melt in your mouth. Plus, as if you need more sugar, they come with a side of milkshake. Make a reservation now. Just do it.
9. Dominique Ansel Bakery, Beverly Grove
The REAL Cronut has finally arrived in LA. And with Dominique Ansel, the creator of the Cronut himself, serving up plates of them at 189 by Dominique Ansel’s brunch, I’d say it was worth the wait. Not quite a donut, but it still belongs on this list. Again, just a bite of this fried treat and I was left speechless. The Cronut flavor rotates at the bakery, so make sure you check that you’ll like the flavor before committing to fighting off tourists at the Grove. I’d recommend just making a reservation at the bistro upstairs; guaranteed access to Cronuts is always better than taking a chance.
10. Yum Yum Donuts, Literally Everywhere
If America runs on Dunkin, LA runs on Yum Yum. With 71 locations, you really won’t have to go too far to find one. They aren’t the best donuts you’ve ever had, but they are honestly so good. Like, shockingly good for how mass-produced they must be. If you are looking to impress your office or group of friends and don’t feel like driving out of your way, head to Yum Yum, get a box of assorted, colorful treats, and you are good to go.
11. Birdies, Downtown LA
Sometimes, I just want all my fried things at once. Birdies LA serves up delicious and fresh fried chicken and donuts. They are known for their 24k Gold Edible Donut for $100. That is not a joke. Don’t waste your money on that. Get their Candied Bacon Maple and Horchata Twist with Dulce de Leche instead. Not enough calories for you? Don't worry. You can order a fried chicken, bacon, and egg sandwich between two maple bacon donuts! Let me tell you, I intensified my workouts for a week after eating this creation! It's definitely one you'll need to share with a friend or five.
12. Crafted Donuts, Koreatown
Innovative flavors and huge portions. I’m down always down for that. Each donut can serve three friends. With flavors like Cookie Butter, Cake Batter, Passion Fruit and a Classic Homer Simpson, these donuts are truly unique. Don’t get me wrong, I love a maple log as much as the next gal (obviously!), but there is something fun about going to Crafted Donuts and knowing that I’m getting something one-of-a-kind. Not only are the flavors creative, but the donuts are really pretty. So take some pictures. Do it!
13. K’s Donut Emporium, Sherman Oaks
Another strip-mall donut shop that is more than meets the eye. My family stopped in here after viewing some extravagant holiday lights in the Valley (hmu if you want to hear that story.) We indulged in some classics like Chocolate Sprinkle and a Maple Log—Yes, I really like Maple Logs. I’ve only been in that one time, but I would gladly go back. The service was terrific and every bite delicious at this no frills classic spot.