San Diego Donut Bar
After the opening of Swoon Dessert Bar, the grand opening I was most looking forward to was Donut Bar. I obviously was not alone in my excitement over promises of high quality donuts, since the donuts at Donut Bar have been selling out early on most days since its debut.
On its opening day, owner Santiago Campa seriously underestimated San Diego’s desire for good donuts. They baked less than their normal amount and sold out within half an hour. When I arrived at 9am (an hour after opening), all that was left were mini buttermilk bites.
They were being offered 4 for $1, so we left with a small bag, accompanied by some syrup for dipping. The buttermilk bites were light and airy, a hint of how good those donuts we missed out on must have tasted.
The following weekend, we took no chances. I’d been following Donut Bar on Facebook, which they update regularly with their daily changing menu and status updates. The Donut Bar aims to bake about 2, 000 fresh donuts in the morning, open at 7am to feed the breakfast crowd, and close shop around 1pm. On most days during the first week, they were sold out hours before closing.
On the following Saturday, we arrived 15 minutes before opening (they open 8am on Saturday so you can sleep in an hour more), only to find a line already formed. As we got in line, we passed by the glass window clearly displaying rows and rows of fresh donuts.
These were the offerings on the day we went:
One of the things that sets this place apart is that they hand form all their donuts, which is quite impressive.
Once inside, I wanted to sample just about everything. We ended up purchasing more than two people should ever consume and left with two large boxes. In my defense, two donuts were being delivered to a friend. Also we wanted doubles of everything so that if we really really loved that one flavor, there’d be a second one. And by having doubles, we could devour one in the car and still have one left of that flavor to photo.
Our half empty boxes after inhaling some in the car:
Crème brûlée for two
I thought I took a solo shot of the Crème brûlée before biting in, but I guess not. I thought this was quite a unique offering and my favorite. The outside glaze, which appears sticky, is actually hardened torched caramel that crunches and breaks when you bite in, much like the torched caramel on the crème brûlée dessert. Each one was torched individually and were quite generous in size.
The very soft and fluffy donut is then filled with a vanilla custard pudding. The whole thing was quite sweet, but I still loved it.
Vanilla Bean Glaze Raised Donut
With all the different donut offerings out there, my favorite is still the traditional glazed. This vanilla bean glaze was simple yet perfect. The dough had a very good rise to it, creating a light and airy donut.
Vanilla Glazed Old Fashioned
I wasn’t as big of a fan of this one. I thought the cake donut was a little on the dry side, though I did enjoy the hint citrus in the batter.
Maple Bourbon Glazed Donut
At a piece, I was a little disappointed to find the bourbon flavor barely detectable. We did wait a day to eat this one, so I wonder if the bourbon flavor would have been stronger if we ate it right after our visit.
These cinnamon sugar donut rings were by far the largest donuts I’ve ever seen, and they are quite fitting of their name. My one issue was that there was a little bit of raw dough in mine. I didn’t mind too much. As someone who bakes and fries often, I know how hard it is to fully cook something so large without overcooking and it’s really difficult to tell if the dough is fully cooked. It was only small bits that were undercooked and we just ate around those pieces.
Overall, we were very pleased with our visit to Donut Bar. The service was very friendly on both of our visits and I can understand why people have been lining up every day. While I do wish they offered donuts until later in the day, I can understand their reasoning for wanting to keep the supply and hours limited. We’ll definitely be back to sample some more flavors soon and I’m so happy to see a good donut bar in San Diego.
While you are there, you can also check out some artwork by Paul Horn. You can also read Darlene’s post on Donut Bar here.
Donut Bar is open at 7am Mon-Fri and 8am on Saturday. They are closed on Sundays. Daily menus are posted on their Facebook page.