To Dunk or Not: Some of SF's Best (and Newest) Doughnuts
Doughnuts. Cops aren’t the only ones who love ’em. Of course we all adore the institution that is Bob’s on Polk, but here’s a roundup with some newcomers on the scene, plus other doughnut stars around town.
You ready for some tweezer doughnuts? Brian Christie and Reilly Meehan are doing some serious next-level doughnuts at their brand-new pop-up, with modern flavor combinations and presentations that are downright soigné. Doughnuts range from a modernist spin on a Snickers bar (complete with peanut and praline powder) to the very intricate Woger Wabbit with roasted carrot stuffing, honey-infused carrot glaze, crystalized ginger crumble, topped with a paprika-dusted carrot chip and fresh ginger curd. No shortage of creativity here. They also do savory doughnuts, like a Hawaiian-barbecue inspired one topped with kalua pig and another with duck confit. Bespoke serves three kinds of made-to-order doughnuts at Mélange Market in the Mission on Saturdays (starting at 9am until they sell out) and at Beaux in the Castro every Sunday from 1pm–6pm (along with cocktails and music!).
Kathleen DeManti has a magic touch with doughnuts, although she is primarily known for her custom cakes. She has started selling her doughnuts out of the Marla Bakery Kitchen Communal window in the Mission, and the one to begin with is her bacon brittle doughnut, made with a brioche dough that she lets rise overnight and again the next morning. While some bacon toppings can be greasy, her version features really tiny pieces of caramelized and well-browned bacon. It’s stellar. Another doughnut with coconut chips totally rocked, and she also does maple sugar and sea salt, plus stuffed doughnuts, some with Meyer lemon curd. You can find them at the window Wed. and Fri. starting at 8:30am and Sat–Sun starting at 9am—they usually run out by noon-ish. 613 York St.
Sara Spearin is a trailblazer in our local doughnut scene, gifting us with one of our city’s best: the maple-glazed bacon apple doughnut. She consistently cranks out very culinary-driven and inspired concoctions, like lemon Sichuan, saffron chocolate, kaffir lime coconut, and banana de leche (and they feature organic ingredients as much as possible). Dynamo also does some great boozy doughnuts, like molasses Guinness, and the Bitter Queen, with a candied grapefruit base, St. Germain elderflower glaze, and Campari sugar. You can visit their Mission location (2760 24th St.) or their kiosk in the Marina (110 Yacht Road).
Swing by Cheryl Burr’s SoMa bakery on Saturdays and you’ll find a few special doughnuts to choose from, ranging from classics like super vanilla (with sprinkles!) to special Girl Scout cookie–inspired flavors (think Samoa, Thin Mint, and Tagalongs). And then there’s the Stoner Doughnut lineup, like ones topped with salted pretzels and caramel. Uh huh. Little cake doughnuts, these are not. They are hefty, dense, and huge—prepare to share. Follow along on Twitter for Doughnut Saturday flava updates. Available 8:30am–2pm or thereabouts on Saturdays. 1196 Folsom St.
While this is a wholesale outfit, you can start finding these stuffed brioche doughnuts at local cafés like Coffee Cultures, Mavelous, Stanza Coffee Bar, Fifty Fifty, Saint Frank Coffee, and more. Owners Aaron Caddell (the founder of Stanza) and pastry chef Ry Stephen make two kinds each day, including salted caramel and whipped cream cheese, PB&J, tangy lemon curd, and berry preserves with rose (you better be a fan of jelly-filled doughnuts if you go that route, because these babies are stuffffed). The doughnut itself has a great cakey texture and flavor, very fluffy.
You’ll find the Bay Area’s first vegan organic doughnuts at this kiosk in the Ferry Building Marketplace (or at their original location in Oakland). Pepples has some seasonally inspired flavors, and fun ones too—top sellers include whiskey tangerine fig, candy cap, and salted caramel. The doughnuts have a cupcake-like crumb that tastes a bit unbaked, and while some hardcore doughnut fans would notice the different flavor and drier texture, many folks wouldn’t even register they're eating a vegan doughnut. They come amply frosted, and one more sweet thing: they donate leftover/unsold doughnuts to Food Runners. Ferry Building Marketplace.
Of course, all hail the king! This humble doughnut shop has been saving many a drunk or hungover or sugar-fiending or graveyard shift–working or munchie-attacked local citizen for over 50 years. You won’t find bacon doughnuts here, but you will find an absolutely fantastic crumb doughnut, their famed apple fritter, buttermilk bar, and the cult-like giant doughnuts, which are as big as your head. Open 24 hours, bless. And there’s even a Twitter feed to let you know what's coming out of the fryer, because there’s not a whole lot that’s better in this world than a hot-from-the-fryer doughnut after midnight. 1621 Polk St.
Of course we probably forgot your favorite neighborhood doughnut shop here in SF, so go ahead and add them (or any other tips or flavor faves) in the comments.