These Are The Most Wild Donuts In Los Angeles
I have a confession to make: When it comes to donuts, I am a man of simple pleasures.
Most of my favorite donut shops in Los Angeles are owned by Cambodian immigrants. The kind of places known for their iconic pink boxes, hard stirring straws, strong coffee, and those big glass sugar pourers. And my favorite donuts are on the smaller side — raised style and covered in powdered sugar. But every once in a while, I will indulge in some of the more creative fried dough cakes.
In episode two of WILD: I Think I’m Falling in Love, we visit Voodoo Donuts in Universal City, as well as the original shop in Portland. If the name is not a dead give away, Voodoo Donuts is not your typical donut shop. It’s like a donut theme park where every fried creation feels like you’re riding a roller coaster of flavors. But even for someone like me, Voodoo has one of my favorite donuts of all time: the peanut butter and jelly donut.
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Like Voodoo, all the places on this list have a unique aspect about them that pushes me out of my donut comfort zone and into eating something wild — like a donut stuffed to the gills with strawberries or one with a unibrow. They are also some of the most iconic L.A. joints.
There are few donut shops connected to a place’s identity like Randy’s Donuts. It’s our Eiffel Tower. If you see a giant Randy’s donut on the top of a shop, you know you’re in Los Angeles. The spot most people think about is Randy’s Inglewood location. Here’s what the Los Angeles Conservancy says about the building: “Randy’s Donuts is an unquestionable icon of 1950s Los Angeles for obvious reasons: it is a typical mid-century drive-up restaurant with a giant donut on its roof.”
It’s where Tony Stark is eating in Iron Man 2 and it’s featured in at least a dozen other films, including two of my favorites: Dope and Blood In, Blood Out. The best part of Randy's these days is that it's not just in the in Wood anymore; it’s everywhere. From the South Bay to Southeast L.A. to the Westside to the San Gabriel Valley, to places as far as the Inland Empire, San Diego, Las Vegas, Asia, and even Paris. But so iconic is the original building at West Manchester in Inglewood that if I saw a Randy’s Donut shop with the Eiffel Tower in the background, I’d still feel like I was home.
Besides the nostalgia factor, Randy’s has so many kinds of donuts from the classic ones like sugar to wilder ones like a matcha tea glaze. It’s also the only place I’ll have a bear claw or an apple fritter. But my favorite when I want to experiment at Randy’s is the red velvet with ganache.
The Donut Hole
The wildest donuts at The Donut Hole are the two giant ones you drive through to get your order.
The Donut Hole also has a walk-up window if you don’t have a car, but it’s entirely a takeout donut shop inside a building shaped like a giant donut, which means you drive through the middle of the donut hole like it’s some delicious tunnel. I’d argue this San Gabriel Valley shop is as iconic as Randy’s giant donut rooftop. It definitely doesn’t get the same hype but it’s got the goods, including a cute-looking rainbow donut that comes with blue sky-colored frosting, whipped cream clouds, and a candy rainbow bridge over the hole.
15300 Amar Road, La Puente, CA 91744
The Donut Man
Donut Man, Donut Man, Donut Man. Contraband. Contraband. Contraband. You got to imagine that in Childish Gambino’s voice from his hit song “This Is America.” That’s because The Donut Man's fruit-covered, richly glazed donuts sometimes hit like a sick one. The decked-out strawberry donut in particular is worth what can sometimes be a very long line to get your hit. Bonus point if you visit in the summer and score one of their heavenly peach donuts.
915 E. Route 66, Glendora, CA 91741
317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA, 90013 (Inside of Grand Central Market)
Donas used to be within walking distance from my house and it was my gateway into wild donut experimentation. It was the first time I tried things like chicharron or bionicos or mazapan dust on a donut. They even have a buttercream donut inspired by Frida Kahlo called the Fridona.
Donas is smaller and newer than a lot of the shops on this list, but it’s a Southeast L.A. gem that has gone viral multiple times. It’s brought droves of people from all over the country to SELA for a shot at posting one of Donas' creative creations on social media.
15729 Downey Ave., Paramount, CA 90723
14117 Hubbard St., Sylmar, CA 91342
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Season Two of LAist Studios' WILD podcast is out now. We recommend you listen to Episode 2 as an accompaniment to this essay. The second season is a nine-part serialized fiction rom-com for your ears. It centers a couple from Southeast L.A., who embark on a road trip adventure across America. Will their relationship survive the trip? Find out on WILD Season 2: I Think I'm Falling In Love, co-hosted by Erick Galindo and Megan Tan, and starring Melinna Bobadilla, Gabrielle Ruiz, and Atsuko Okatsuka.
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