Bob's Donut and Pastry Shop is one of those establishments that is a stalwart landmark in San Francisco. It the place that my darling Lisa acquired my giant Birthday Doughnut. Not only do that have giant doughnuts as novelties, Bob's provides the best quality, hand-made, classically-prepared doughnuts in the city. These are not gourmet doughnuts with unusual flavors like Voodoo or Gourdoughs. You won't find anything with bacon or childrens cereal as a topping.
The interior is incredibly old fashioned; just a plain counter with a handful of two-seater chairs lining the wall. There is an old sign on the back wall worth looking at which reads "Cheaper by the Dozen - Plain, Powered, Maple, Glazed, Raised, Crullers, Crunch, Brownies. Take Home a Dozen. 2 for 15¢" I would have thought earlier, but they have been in existence since the 1960s. And the bulk of their business is not the morning crowd, but the late-night club-hoppers.
This is a stalwart favorite for a reason. The quality of their doughnuts is exceptional. Slightly misshapen indicates they are hand formed. The cake offerings are dense and rich with a moist crumb. The crullers are light and eggy and ethereally enticing. And then there is the apple fritter. Outside of Randy's Doughnuts in Los Angeles, this is the best apple fritter I have experienced. It is a tad thicker than I prefer, but it has all the requisite dark crunchy bites that make a fritter fabulous.
Like Mrs Johnsons in Austin, if you go late at night, you can get these doughnuts fresh and warm. Many doughnut shops are preparing doughnuts throughout the evening for sale in the morning, but there are few establishments that enable you to acquire these warm, decadent morsels as they are being made. Kudos for Bob's for staying open, for longevity, and for excellence.
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Bob's Donut & Pastry Shop
1621 Polk St, San Francisco, CA
Bob's Donuts is a hole-in-the-wall but if you go in the morning when the sun hits it, it's a very pleasant place. The sunlight hits the donuts in the window and is a magnificent sight. Morning really is the best time to go...when you can smell the fresh coffee too.
In the middle of the night, on a weekday, it can be very depressing. The homeless, the destitute and the old can be seen there in the bad fluorescent lighting killing time or get something to eat...yet it's nice to know there's a place like this.
When I worked near Northpoint and because it's near my grandmother's, Bob's was on my regular commute route. Back then ('90) it had a small printed sign, "Official Donut Maker of the Knights of Columbus" on the door. (You just can't make that stuff up.) The older lady who works the afternoons was there then, and she always smiles...probably because she knows she's peddling donut-crack.
Bob's is one of my favorite places in SF and of course the donuts are great. I get the powder sugar cake...delicate yet hearty.