Editor's note: This story was originally published in 2018, long before the COVID-19 pandemic. We have updated the info in it as best we can. Please confirm that these donut shops are still open before you go.
Donuts, those ubiquitous fried dough confections, are a lot like Donuts, the 2006 album by legendary Detroit producer J Dilla — deceptively small, fits in the palm of your hand and packs a ridiculously addictive punch. Fortunately, Los Angeles is the mecca of doughy dreams and chocolate-glazed wishes. From Santa Monica to Downey, we boast some of the finest donut specimens in the world.
We also boast some of the kindest donut-eaters, like the customers of Donut City in Seal Beach. They kept buying out the store's stock so owner John Chhan could close early to spend time with his wife, who had a brain aneurysm.
In honor of National Donut Day (there are actually two National Donut Days), we've found a few of the best donut shops and divided them into five categories. Sit back, pour a cup of coffee and let's take a ride.
Randy's Donuts - Inglewood, Costa Mesa, El Segundo, Downey, Pasadena, Torrance
The icon. A 62-year-old star of Hollywood movies and late-night cravings, this Inglewood institution features one of the city's most recognizable emblems, the giant donut at the corner of Manchester and La Cienega. Getting down to business, Randy's delivers the goods with classic crullers, old fashioneds, cinnamon crumb and plain raised donuts. And in the past few years, Randy's has expanded and added several locations.
- 805 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood. 310-645-4707
- 2930 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa. 949-674-5977
- 2181 Rosecrans Ave., El Segundo. 310-616-3406
- 8721 Firestone Blvd., Downey. 562-659-7079
- 230 S. Lake Ave., Unit #2, Pasadena. 626-365-1216
- 23330 Hawthorne Blvd., Suite 1, Torrance. 310-373-1274
California Donuts - Koreatown
Don't be surprised if you're greeted by a long line when you arrive at this K-Town favorite, especially on a Friday or Saturday night. California Donuts is a walk-up paradise known for over-the-top creations like the Snickers Bar Donut, which comes with a full-sized candy bar tucked inside. No wonder it's nicknamed the "Dentist's Delight." Among the high-concept offerings and seasonal selections, don't miss staples like their Lemonade Donuts (made with Girl Scout cookies) and possibly the best blueberry donut in town.
- 3540 W. 3rd St., Koreatown. 213-385-3318
SK's Donuts - Beverly Grove
This little spot off Cochran has been a favorite of Angelenos for years. Back in business after a lengthy renovation, SK's Donuts now has a sleek, sterile sophistication that matches the gentrifying Miracle Mile neighborhood. The donuts are still top-notch, though. Cinnamon roll fans, take notice. They make 'em right. While the store has doubled in size, the tiny parking lot at the corner of busy 3rd St. is perilous.
- 5850 W. 3rd St., Suite #A, Miracle Mile. 323-935-2409
Darling Donuts & Ice Cream - Mid-City
This quaint storefront on Venice is a hidden gem. If it's not already in your do-tation (donut + rotation), add it to the mix. They'll hit you with one of the finest cinnamon rolls in the city and toss in a handful donut holes to ease your troubles. Don't overlook the dizzying selection of freshly squeezed juices ($5-8), which includes celery pineapple, bitter melon and a bunch of combos with beets. It's cash only, so come prepared.
- 5431 Venice Blvd., Mid-City
The Donut Hole - La Puente
You haven't been to the San Gabriel Valley until you've been to The Donut Hole, one of the region's finest examples of programmatic architecture. The Los Angeles Conservancy sings the praises of the "unknown genius person" who decided to create a building shaped like a giant drive-through donut. The bacon maple bar is popular with adults while kids end up fighting over the Oreo, Fruit Loops and Reese's Pieces donuts. This is usually a cash only establishment but if you buy more than $10 worth of goodies, they might let you slide that plastic.
- 15300 Amar Rd., La Puente. 626-968-2912
Monarch Donuts - Arcadia
The apple fritter at Monarch Donuts is the kind of beauty that puts other apple fritters to shame — and it tastes as good as it looks. Their perfect crunch gives way to warm, buttery apple deliciousness. Regular customers rave about shop owner Jonathan Ung, who puts a lot of heart into his donuts and offers great customer service. This place is cash only but has an
ATM on the premises. When you go, bring us back a couple of the cinnamon crumbs, please and thank you.
- 15 W. Huntington Dr., Arcadia. 626-818-6478
Donut Prince - Burbank
Although original owner Mike Abdelghani retired at the end of 2020, after running the shop for 50 years, the new owners have kept the tradition going. Burbank still retains much of it's mid-20th century charm and Donut Prince is a prime example. You may feel like Don Cheadle at the end of Boogie Nights when you walk into this old-school shop with walls covered in autographed pictures of celebs There's a great selection of buttermilk, cake, cake and raised donuts but the pecan rolls and apple fritters are the stars of the show. It's the perfect pit-stop before launching a mission to IKEA and they have the best tagline in the business: "Don't get a divorce — get a donut!"
- 1721 W. Olive Ave., Burbank. 818-841-0859
Primo's Donuts - West L.A.
When your family has been cranking out quality donuts since the Eisenhower administration, you probably know a thing or two about fried dough. Primo's also likes to keep it new. Owners Ralph and Celia Primo plan to open another location in Westwood in the former Stan's Donuts location. At the original Sawtelle spot, they dole out Dodger donuts to support the Boys in Blue but they're best known for their classic old fashioned and glazed donuts. They recently added a salted caramel buttermilk bar to the menu.
- 2918 Sawtelle Blvd., West L.A. 310-478-6930
Bob's Coffee & Doughnuts - Fairfax
Bob's stands out amid the bustle of the Original Farmer's Market thanks to the large coffee cup and donut sculpture on its awning. The devil's food, a chocolate cake donut glazed with chocolate and sprinkled with chocolate chips, is a fan favorite as is the cinnamon crumb. They make one of the city's best apple fritters. It's crisp and glazed with a hint of burnt sugar on the outside and filled with apple chunks. They also make kid-pleasing donuts shaped like dinosaurs and, on rare occasions, a delicious strawberry glazed donut. Getting in and out of the Farmers Market, located at the constantly traffic-clogged intersection of 3rd and Fairfax, is a nightmare. Bob's is also cash only.
- 6333 W. 3rd St., #450, Fairfax. 323-933-8929
Donut Man - Glendora
Strawberries! Strawberries! Strawberries! Owner Jim Nakano is the inventor of Donut Man's legendary strawberry donut — a plain, glazed round donut that's sliced in half and crammed with half a basket of glazed strawberries. The concoction is offered year-round. For a brief period in the late summer, he makes the same donut with peaches — and it's even better. The shop also makes all the standard raised and cake donuts. Their Tiger Tail, a full foot of cinnamon and chocolate goodness twisted into a braid, is magic.
- 915 E. Rte 66, Glendora. 626-335-9111
Dad's Donuts & Bakery - Burbank
Tucked away next to a nail salon in an unassuming strip mall, Dad's does right by the classics — maple bars, cinnamon rolls, apple fritters, Boston creme, French crullers — with a buttery glaze that melts in your mouth. If you want a taste of fancy, dad (AKA owner Bruce Bu) has updated his selection with addictive cronut holes and an amazing Churro Donut.
- 2501 W. Victory Blvd., Burbank. 818-841-1910
Daily Donuts - Los Feliz
Bring cash when you swing by this Daily Donuts, since that's all this neighborhood favorite takes. You'll want to grab several coconut-covered, peanut-encrusted, sprinkle-topped and sugar-dusted creations. They deliver the classics with style, so expect cinnamon rolls and glazed donuts made with love — and lots of butter. Don't miss out on the yummy croissants.
- 1908 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz. 323-665-5043
Blinkie's Donuts - Woodland Hills
Beyond the essentials, Blinkie's has you covered when it comes to cronuts and funky flavors like Thai tea and horchata. Their secret weapon: the black and white donut, a collision of chocolate and vanilla that echoes the popular New York deli cookie of the same name. Blinkie's is only for early risers or extreme night owls. Hours are from 5 a.m. to noon on weekdays and 6 a.m. to noon on weekends.
- 4884 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills. 818-884-4456
Texas Donuts - East L.A.
This shop offers all the usual suspects — raised, cake, buttermilk bars, crullers, etc. — but what makes it stand out are its massive raised donuts. Each one of these suckers is as big as a dinner plate. They're so big, one of these could easily serve as a birthday cake. Stack a couple of these on top of each other for extra decadance. They come in three flavors: plain glazed, chocolate and dusted with sugar. We're guessing these Texas-sized donuts are what gives the shop its name.
- 4501 Whittier Blvd., East L.A. 626-274-2461
Trejo's Coffee and Donuts - Hollywood
Give it up for actor Danny Trejo. He's succeeding in L.A.'s tough taco market and now he's bringing that same ingenuity to donuts. Machete don't back down from nobody. Trejo's Coffee and Donuts makes instant classics like the Nacho, a cake donut made with sour cream, chives, hot sauce and sprinkled with cheddar cheese. The Abuelita sprinkles more chocolate on top of dark chocolate icing spread over a raised donut. Sigh. Please allow me to take a moment. OK, don't miss the Margarita, which brings the flavors of tequila, lime and salt to an iced donut. They've always got a slew of vegan options like vegan peanut butter and a vegan take on the Low Rider, a mix of cinnamon, almonds and bananas. You'll hone your driving skills navigating through the Hollywood traffic pretty much any time you come but the sugar rush is worth it. Trejo's is also looking to open a location in DTLA.
- 6785 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. 323-462-4600
Cofax - Fairfax
You know Cofax for their terrific breakfast burritos. Don't ignore their donuts, which were originally developed by Nicole Rucker. They're in a small case on top of the counter to show off flavors like a lemon pistachio yeast donut and a sea salt caramel-glazed raised donut.
- 40 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax. 323-424-7485
Birdies - downtown L.A.
A relative newcomer to DTLA, Birdies rolls out instant classics such as the horchata twist, which is thick with a dulce de leche glaze, and the classic NY black and white. Blueberry lemon is a tart but sugary surprise, and the lemon thyme pistachio is a pleasant surprise from the inspired and unexpected combination of flavors.
- 314 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown L.A. 213-536-5714
Kettle Glazed Doughnuts - Hollywood
Hiding in the shadow of the 101 freeway, Kettle Glazed has been cranking out subtle remixes of classic flavors since 2013. The old fashioned is offered in buttermilk vanilla, blueberry lemon and double chocolate varieties. The graham cracker-topped s'mores donut and their original chocolate drizzle "croissant style" gems are worth the cheat day meal.
- 6211 Franklin Ave., Hollywood. 323-462-2344
Weird And Wacky
Colorado Donuts - Eagle Rock
Eagle Rock's favorite donut shop is ready for fall, rolling out seasonal pumpkin spice donuts. They've also got your Dodger Blues to support the team's run for the World Series. Halloween options include beautifully designed donuts shaped like spiders, unicorns, ghosts and Frankenstein. Vegans should dig the blueberry glaze and the Skippy-filled PB&J varieties.
- 1578 Colorado Blvd., #14, Eagle Rock. 323-340-1962
Dona's Donuts - Downey
This indie Mexican donut shop is an Instagram paradise. Bright, colorful and full of energy, Dona's signature donut is the Bidi Bom. Inspired by beloved Tejano singer Selena, the sparkly creation is covered in honey lavender and purple glitter. The Rich Bitch is slathered in gold glitter while the El Puerquito is topped with a blanket of maple glaze and chicharrones.
- 8636 Imperial Hwy., Downey. 562-622-2429
DKs Donuts and Bakery - Santa Monica
This spot, which is connected to "Donut King" Ted Ngoy, is proud to be the home of the Double-Decker #O-Nut, a croissant/donut hybrid. DKs Donuts also boasts the original ube purple yam donut, made with purple ube dough, purple cream cheese, toasted coconut, bacon and pistachios. You'll find donuts topped with edible flowers and others overflowing with Nutella. How about a donut topped with Reese's Pieces or a whole Ferrero Rocher truffle? West Side represent.
- 1614 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica. 310-829-2512
Donut Friend - Highland Park, downtown L.A.
This funky Highland Park donut shop offers all sorts of decadent and wacky flavors. They might be topped with chocolate glaze, chocolate chips and cayenne or passion fruit and cacao nibs or lemon rosewater and pistachio. Or maybe Donut Friend will slice a raised donut in half and cram it with peanut butter, strawberry jam, coconut bacon and sriracha. Come early. They make only a certain number of their signature creations each day and when their donuts are gone, they're gone
- 5107 York Blvd., Highland Park. 213-995-6191
- 543 S. Broadway, DTLA. 213-908-2743
Voodoo Doughnut - Universal City
You'll have to brave the neon wilds of Universal Citywalk to experience this Portland-based brand. Look for the bright pink facade where you'll find Voodoo's infamous Cock-N-Balls, a big ol' yeast donut triple-filled with Bavarian cream and topped with chocolate frosting that's shaped into exactly what you'd expect. Another fan favorite is the Maple Blazer Blunt, a raised yeast doughnut rolled into the shape of a blunt and dusted with cinnamon sugar. The top is dipped in maple frosting and red sprinkles to resemble the burning end of a doobie. The Memphis Mafia is an Elvis tribute packed with banana chunks and cinnamon then drizzled in chocolate and peanut butter with peanuts and chocolate chips on top. Whew! The Grape Ape, covered with grape dust and lavender sprinkles, is so pretty you'll almost feel bad for eating. Bonus points for the Ol' Dirty Bastard, because Wu-Tang, much like donuts, are for the children.
- 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City. 818-622-6646
Blue Star Donuts - Venice, Manhattan Beach, Silver Lake
Yeah, these are definitely gentrified donuts but it's hard to complain when Blue Star serves a pumpkin panna cotta brûlée (made with Rose City Distilling's whiskey). Their bacon bourbon breakfast fritter combines brioche dough with shredded Yukon Gold potatoes, chunks of bacon, cracked black pepper and fresh sage. And since too much is never enough, they coat the whole thing in a maple-bourbon glaze.
- 1142 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice. 310-450-5630
- 451 Manhattan Beach Blvd D-118, Manhattan Beach. 310-545-2187
- 3438 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake. 323-922-6074
Donut Snob - delivery only
"We're snobby, really, really snobby about our donuts and what goes into the making of them," Donut Snob proclaims — and that snobbery has paid off with the some of the most beautiful and tastiest donuts in town. They include innovative flavors like blueberry earl grey, pumpkin spice caramel and matcha black sesame, which is made with Japanese matcha powder glaze and topped with black sesame seeds.
Sidecar Doughnuts - Santa Monica, Fairfax, Torrance, Costa Mesa, Del Mar
Sidecar debuted in Orange County in 2013 and has branched out thanks to their airy raised donuts with high-end toppings like salted caramel and vanilla chai. Their fall menu showcases Halloween cake, a vanilla cake doughnut glazed with vanilla and topped with chocolate and orange sprinkles, and the pumpkin pie and everything spice, Sidecar's signature "raised bullseye" with a pumpkin glaze, whipped mascarpone pumpkin mousse, housemade gingersnap crumble, roasted pepitas and maple syrup. Don't skip the apple cider donut, dusted with cinnamon and finished with a drizzle of apple cider glaze. There's a Torrance location planned for spring 2019.
- 631 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica. 310-587-0022
- 175 S Fairfax Ave., Fairfax District. 323-818-3008
- 2549-B Rolling Hills Plaza, Pacific Coast Hwy, Torrance. 424-263-5091
- 270 E. 17th St., #18, Costa Mesa. 949-873-5424
- 12925 El Camino Real, San Diego. 310-587-0022
Dot & Dough - Pasadena, Monterey Park, Stanton
Dot & Dough does all sorts of fun, colorful donuts but they're probably best known for their malasadas, which are filled with flavors such as matcha and ube.
- 1731 E. Colorado Blvd., Psadena. 626-365-1566
- 141 N. Atlantic Blvd., #102, Monterey Park. 626-943-8688
- 12885 Beach Blvd., Unit #8. Stanton. 714-379-7722
The Goods - Carlsbad
If you find yourself in Carlsbad Village, stroll into The Goods, an adorable shop known for creative selections like a strawberry cheesecake donut that tastes like you're biting into a fresh slice of New York's finest. Other hoity toity flavors include berry compote and Tahitian vanilla. They also make a spot-on plain glazed.
- 2965 State St., Carlsbad. 760-994-0458
Sweet Retreat Donuts - Long Beach
Set toward the back of a nondescript strip mall, Sweet Retreat is anything but inconspicuous when it comes to vegan donuts. They've got a loud and proud selection that includes lemon pistachio, blueberry icing with fresh fruit, vanilla coconut, vanilla almond, chocolate and cinnamon sugar. They're mixed in among the non-vegan donuts, so don't just go willy-nilly in there thinking it's all vegan.
- 924 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach. 562-612-0506
Ring Baked Tofu Donuts - Canoga Park
These Japanese delights come in a variety of vegan flavors including chocolate and vanilla tofu. Ring Baked also makes uncommon but tasty drinks such as sea salt cream iced matcha green tea. This is another spot with vegan offerings mixed in with non-vegan fare. So if you're not sure, just ask.
- 6800 Owensmouth Ave., #130, Canoga Park. 323-963-3881
Fonuts - Beverly Grove
What Fonuts makes aren't exactly donuts, and they know it, hence the cheeky name. Their "fonuts" are more like mini Bundt cakes. They're baked not fried and they're now entirely gluten-free. I keep coming back to the blueberry earl grey, which adds a dollop of fruit to a swirl of tea. The strawberry yogurt is also reminiscent of its namesake. Whether or not fonuts are actually donuts, they often generate this reaction: "I didn't think I could like vegan donuts!"
- 8104 W. 3rd St., Beverly Grove. 323-592-3075