When it comes from one of these unique donut shops on the West Coast, a donut is never just a donut. America’s favorite deep-fried morning confection has been around for centuries, but how the donut got its shape is the sweet stuff of legend. Some say a Native American arrow shot out the doughy center. Others credit a 19th century sea captain who stuck his ‘fried cakes’ through the spokes of the ship’s wheel, while another story goes that he didn’t like the nuts in the middle so he poked them out.
Whether these folk tales were made up just to sell donuts we may never know, but by the mid-1930s, the donut was “the food hit of the Century Of Progress.” Donut chains began popping up across the country selling ringed, twisted and stuffed pastries in every flavor imaginable, bathed in colorful glazes and sprinkles–and we’ve been reinventing the donut ever since.
Port Angeles, Washington
In the sea-faring town of Port Angeles, the giant rooster that peers out from Cock-a-Doodle Doughnuts‘ East Front Street window is hard to miss. But it’s their signature bacon maple bar and caramel apple fritter that make it unforgettable. Every cake is made fresh by hand, the old-fashioned way, and then deep-fried to perfection.
Famous for its unusual toppings and a raspberry stuffed Voodoo Doll, the original Voodoo Doughnut on Southwest 3rd Street was the first to declare to the world, “The magic is in the hole!” Maybe it’s because everything from Captain Crunch and Cocoa Puffs to Oreos and M&M’S covers the entire top half of the donut and then slides into the center. However the magic gets into the hole, these spellbinding treats are worthy of the long lines.
Pepples Donut Farm
You don’t need to ‘go vegan’ to appreciate Pepples Donut Farm‘s healthy treats! Each delicious creation is made with 100 percent organic ingredients and hand-dipped in original, artisan-style glazes at its small shop on San Pablo Avenue. Favorites include salted caramel, blueberry, and lemon poppyseed, but you’ll also find a brunch and lunch menu with tasty dishes like the pesto scramble, organic granola, and tofu burgers. Other California locations include Berkeley and Los Angeles.
Take a drive down West Manchester Boulevard in Los Angeles and you’ll spot a small, 24-hour drive-thru with a 50-foot high donut on the roof. Randy’s Donuts is a throwback to 1950s Los Angeles history, and a bit of a celebrity with appearances in Mars Attacks!, Coming to America, Iron Man 2, and dozens of others. It’s a sweet haven that sells all the classics for a buck, and features the Texas glazed—a donut nearly as big as your head!
San Diego, California
A little shop located on B Street in the heart of downtown San Diego, Donut Bar is the 2016 top pick of San Diego Magazines’ “Readers Choice” and “Critics Choice” Awards. Popular for their one-of-a-kind donut recipes like French toast, chocolate butterfinger, and a decadent crème brûlée, Donut Bar is also the home to the oversized, pink frosted and rainbow sprinkle donut, named in honor of an American pop culture icon, Homer Simpson.
Moon Staff Pick
The title of the article says five, but here at Moon Travel Guides headquarters in Berkeley, we love donuts. In addition to Victoriah’s picks above, we’d like to give an honorable mention to a staff favorite in our neck of the woods.
If you’re in the East Bay, consider a trip to Uptown Oakland’s Donut Savant where you can enjoy a selection of bite- and mid-sized donuts and the elusive Cron’t (croissant-donut). To ensure you get the donuts you have your heart set on, order by midnight a day ahead for pick-up.
Have your own must-stop donut shop? Tell us about it in the comments or use #travelwithmoon.