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Fried Dough quest in Los Angeles

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San Francisco-based Fried Dough Ho here - I lived in SoCal for many years a decade ago and still visit Randy's whenever I'm in the area.

But beyond Randy's, what other exceptional fried dough highlights should I consider for an upcoming visit? I'll only have a few days and want to get the most in my travels, between Manhattan Beach and Rancho Cucamonga. Unlikely I'll get down to Orange County, but driving down from the north so it is possible I could hit places in the valley.

Here's what I am researching for: www.frieddoughho.com

Thanks!

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Cucamonga Llc
12365 Foothill Blvd, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91739

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  1. Primo's on Sawtelle for buttermilk bars (ask Ralph or his doughnut making assistant Frank to do a couple of chocolate dipped buttermilk bars for you) - either glazed or plain.

    Stan' in Westwood (and Thousand Oaks as well) for chocolate peanut butter.

    The Doughnut Man in Glendora for fresh fruit filled examples.

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    Donut Man
    915 E Rte 66, Glendora, CA 91740

    Primo's
    2918 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

    Stan's Doughnuts
    10948 Weyburn Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90024

    5 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      That's a great summary of the best doughnuts.

      You may also want to try some restaurant doughnuts at places like Animal, Grace (has it reopened yet?) or Mozza when they have them.

      Also, don't neglect street churros, some of the best fried dough in SoCal. Drive around Echo Park and you will find them.

      1. re: sku

        Also the Funnel Cakes at the Country Market stand at the Third and Fairfax Farmers Market.

        1. re: sku

          Best churros in LA are at Mr. Churro on historic Olvera St.. Piping hot out of the fryer at all times, with optional fillings down the middle just like you can get in parts of Central and South America. (Cream, caramel, etc..) Insanely good!!

          1. re: QualityMart

            Agree on Mr. Churro. Be aware there are two locations. Skip the cart on the plaza and find the shop midway down Olvera St. where they make 'em fresh.

        2. re: Servorg

          There's no place like Donut Man...from the tiger tails to fruit filled donuts and every thing in between. Maybe they still got fresh strawberry. Can't wait for the fresh peach.

        3. Try the actual fried dough at AT&T Park when you get home (also called elephant ears). It's a treat that is very rare on this coast. While you're here, these are a couple of suggestions...

          Le Donut in Duarte...Corner of Huntington and Highland (7/11 mini mall)
          Miss Donut in La Verne, corner of D and Bonita.

          1 Reply
          1. re: heckonwheels

            seriously? Where do they sell them at AT and T? (perhaps you can post on the SF Board)The churros at ATT are AWFUL! (which makes it more surprising to me that you can get any good fried dough there...)

          2. A little different type of fried dough, but give the black sesame "chips" at Cathy's Bakery a try.

            It's essentially dough mixed with black sesame seeds and fried in good amounts of lard.

            Good stuff.

            Cathy's Bakery
            708 E Las Tunas Dr
            San Gabriel, CA 91776
            (626) 451-0101

            1. in case you get to Sherman Oaks, try K's Donut Emporium (at Beverly Glen and Ventura Blvd. - no other outpost please) for the Glazed Old-Fashioneds and Apple Fritters.

              for natas, Nata's on Ventura Blvd as well.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Emme

                I recently reviewed Natas as a friend who was in L.A. brought some home for me. I am certainly not discounting other versions of fried dough and will be looking at restaurants (as I have in the blog).

                I have a food-writer friend in the area who has promised to show me a restaurant in the southbay with Hungarian fried dough. I doubt I'll do much more restaurant fried dough only because of the limited time for this trip, but there will undoubtedly be more so it is the ultra-special restaurant fried dough that would draw me in. Example, does Mozza do anything beyond a Zeppole? I am more intrigued with restaurants like San Francisco's Frances which provides a savory bacon beignet.

                I really like the churro suggestion. It has been on my list and I can think of no better place than Olvera street for my ultimate churro review.

                Lastly, are there any gourmet shops in L.A. like Voodoo or Dynamo? I honestly believe that doughnuts will be the next cupcake and we will be seeing the rise of more and more gourmet offerings and am wondering if that concept has hit Los Angeles yet.

                Thanks for all the input!

                1. re: CarrieWas218

                  Hungarian fried dough is delicious. It is called Langos. Pronounced "Lahn-gosh".

                  What is the name of the place that your friend says has it?

                2. re: Emme

                  There's a place called Natas on Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks? Recently, all the way out in Claremont, I stopped for a closer look at Euro Cafe, which specializes in Portuguese food, and the daughter of the owner gave me a free nata as an example of their desserts. It was a wonderfully delicious little pastry -- as good as any donut and great with strong coffee. I will certainly check the Natas version the next time I'm in Sherman Oaks.

                  1. re: hnsbmg

                    CarrieWas218 was the poster who did a wonderful review of Natas here on the LA board very recently: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7124...

                    1. re: Servorg

                      Thanks, Servorg -- I somehow missed that thread.

                3. To the OP: What is the special appeal for you of Randy's? Is it the famous huge donut that is part of the store's physical architecture? Is it pure nostalgia? Or do you think their donuts are genuinely good?

                  I ask because I've always found Randy's donuts to be pretty horrible, certainly no better than a supermarket donut. Last year I stopped by there with my daughter and asked the counterperson which of the donuts were warm or at least freshest. She adamantly refused to answer the question. That was the final straw for me.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Arthur

                    I haven't yet written up Randy's on my blog because I don't have pictures I am happy with, but for me it is the Apple Fritter. I have had fritters at every doughnut shop I have gone to and none can compare with Randy's because of what I term "the crunch factor."

                    I adore a fritter that has that toothy exterior crunch to it and with so many other establishments, they make the fritters so thick in the middle that one ends up eating too much cake when it is the crust that tastes best. With Randy's, you get a monstrously huge fritter that is made thin enough to provide a rich, dark, crunchy, crusty bite all the way through, including the very middle.

                    I have a feeling the person at the counter honestly didn't know when the doughnuts were warm or freshest because they are often frying them all the time to keep up with the demand that there is no consistent time for the full selection to be available warm. Your best bet, however, would be around 4:00 a.m. as by 5:00 a.m., the line starts and continues until 9:00ish (the before work crowd).

                    1. re: CarrieWas218

                      That apple fritter sounds good, Carrie. I have a problem with a lot of the apple fritters I sample in that the taste of the grease from the deep fryer seems to soak into the fritter giving it a very heavy, oily taste.

                      If you do get over to Primo's (and after you have sampled the buttermilk bars) see if they have any of their baked apple turnovers ready. Really nice with the carmelized sugar coating giving it a wonderful flavor enhancer. Very addicting.

                      1. re: Servorg

                        Thanks, but no baked goodies for me.... It is bad enough to fight the battle of the bulge so I save all my "bad calories" up for Fried Dough!

                      2. re: CarrieWas218

                        I ask "what's fresh?" at Donut Man every time, and every time I get a sensible, honest answer, including, on rare occasions, "Nothing at the moment." Most of their donuts are good in any condition, but they reach for the stars when they're still warm.

                        I also like thin, crusty fritters. Get them at

                        Manna Donuts
                        846 E 6th St
                        Beaumont, CA 92223
                        (951) 845-2350

                        on the way to Palm Springs.

                        1. re: CarrieWas218

                          For fritters, also try Bob's Donuts at the Third and Fairfax Farmers Market. Great crunch!

                          Here's a thread from a doughnut tour I did a few years ago: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/401335

                          1. re: sku

                            Great thread (read) sku. Thanks for resurrecting it.

                            1. re: Servorg

                              Totally concur! Thanks for all the info!

                      3. "I would get excited at the descriptions of various fried dough offerings and, yes, would even considering whoring myself out for the perfect example of such" Did you find any fried dough worth whoring yourself out for? People have talked about churros, I love a good churro--I think I got my first at either the LA or SD Zoo, or Fedco.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: apple7blue

                          On my blog, I have a number of examples I would sell my soul four -- Nirvana was experienced at The French Laundry (not too surprisingly). After a 6+ hour, 25-course meal, I remember the white truffles and the doughnuts.

                          When I fly into LAX, I can start to taste the fritters from Randy's. The Seagull Eggs at Nombe here in San Francisco are my current favorite that I can get any time. And when I made my own Polish paczi, I wondered why anyone would ever want a store-bought fried dough when they can be that much more amazing made fresh.

                          1. re: CarrieWas218

                            Either you have really low self esteem or I need to try this stuff--selling your soul and whoring yourself for fried dough products, the incredulity of it. So do you like fried dough items like pakoras, bhajis samosas, I know you mentioned takoyaki. Its funny you mentioned takoyaki, there is a great Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!! (ダウンタウンのガキの使いやあらへんで!!, "Downtown's 'This is no task for kids!!'"?) episode where they just make takoyaki from unusual fillings. Episode 797 http://www.veoh.com/browse/videos/cat...

                            1. re: apple7blue

                              I adore pakoras, gulab jamin, and samosas (I wrote about an incredible samosa recently experienced in Austin). I have fond memories of my first beignet in New Orleans, funnel cakes at fairs as a kid, and hush-puppies my Southern Dad would make with his greens and black-eyed peas.

                              From my research, there is not a culture in the world that does not have some form of fried dough. It is one of the oldest types of food as no part of an animal would be wasted so when there is this left-over rendered fat, that would be used to cook with. Fried cakes are nothing new - they can be traced as far back as the 5th millennium BC and it is believed the ancient Egyptians ate them.

                              And my self-esteem is just fine, thanks.

                        2. Fresh malasadas at Kings Bakery.
                          But, nothing beats Leonards in Oahu.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: monku

                            Monku - that is brilliant! I've been wanting to try fresh malasadas and didn't think they would be available at King's! And a visit there puts me in the neighborhood for Shin-Sen-Gumi, my FAVORITE restaurant in the South Bay! Thanks!

                            1. re: CarrieWas218

                              Malasadas at Kings are only made on weekends.

                              1. re: monku

                                Thanks - I'm still squaring away my schedule but will see if I can fit this in! I really appreciate all the help here, guys!

                                1. re: CarrieWas218

                                  Servorg and exilekiss mentioned Nickel Diner with its "famous Donuts" in another thread . . .

                                  -----
                                  Nickel Diner
                                  524 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                          2. It doesn't fit into you time frame but the Indian Fried Bread at the Pomona fair is very similar to the Zeppoli's I had as a kid in Boston which is Italian Fried Dough

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: MaldenBoy

                              So far I have done two different zeppole reviews on the blog and we have a pretty decent Indian culture here in Northern California (although I have yet to delve into writing much about it yet).

                              My goal is to get to one of the mid-western fairs next year that have those MONSTER fried-whatever booths. That would be pure nirvana, I think.

                              I am really looking forward to the trip now though, thanks to you guys. And I'll be reporting back, don't worry!

                              1. re: CarrieWas218

                                Are you guys talking about puris or like native american fried bread of some sort?

                            2. Driving down tomorrow and have an addendum to these lists -- surprised no one suggested Nickel Diner with their Maple Bacon Doughnut! I'll be there Saturday morning without questions.

                              I'm also considering Empanadas Place for dinner (yep, that's fried dough!) and will be at the Orange County Fair on Sunday for funnel cake.

                              I'll be reporting back on all the other excursions after the weekend! Thanks everyone for all the suggestions!

                              -----
                              Nickel Diner
                              524 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                              Empanadas Place
                              3011 Harbor Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: CarrieWas218

                                Apple7blue mentioned the Nickel Diner and the bacon doughnut on July 19th : )

                                I envy you your quest and wish you easy driving and good eating.

                                I'm a fan of stans doughnuts and bob's at the farmers market - hoping to make the drive to be a fan of the doughnut man as well!

                                -----
                                Nickel Diner
                                524 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                                1. re: happybaker

                                  Oooops - apologies to Apple7blue for my remiss! Just now arrived in L.A. and the dinner adventures my friend has planned are going to be quite fun; both Colombian and Argentine empanadas, some Russian fried dough, and possibly some Korean fried dough if I am up for a lot of driving and eating tonight!

                                  Saturday's plan is King's Hawaiian, then Nickel Diner, than a churro on Olvera street. Since I have to drive to Rancho Cucamonga for the REAL reason my family thinks I'm in L.A. (a wedding), I'll be stopping in La Puente for the Donut Hole drive-through place.

                                  Sunday will be at the Orange County Fair and dinner is as-yet undecided. I have to drive back Monday morning but hope to stop at Primo's and possibly K's.

                                  And then all next week will be providing reports of each place...

                                  -----
                                  Nickel Diner
                                  524 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                                  1. re: CarrieWas218

                                    "Since I have to drive to Rancho Cucamonga for the REAL reason my family thinks I'm in L.A. (a wedding)..."

                                    Oh I love that line!

                                    By the russian fried dough - do you mean the filled fried dough? I'd only had that upon coming to LA, in the "Little Russia" area of of west hollywood I've had sauerkraut filled fried dough, spiced meat, potato. Yummy! And so low cal... : )

                                    Happy eating!

                                    1. re: happybaker

                                      Yes, I had three fried doughs tonight that were either Russian or Latvian from the last spot of FIVE different restaurants I went to. How we ended up this evening: Argentine empanadas (baked, so they may not count), Colombian empanadas, Salvadorean empanadas, Malayasian fried dough, and then we finished up at the Russian/Latvian place on the Redondo Pier.

                                      Now it is time for some sleep before tomorrow's continuation of the adventure.

                                      1. re: CarrieWas218

                                        Great work!

                                        Um, I mean, great eating! : )

                                        1. re: CarrieWas218

                                          > the Russian/Latvian place on the Redondo Pier

                                          Gambrinus?

                                          1. re: Peripatetic

                                            Yes. The owners are Latvian so the cuisine is mixed.

                                            1. re: CarrieWas218

                                              Did you find any good empanadas near the Southbay? Any recommendations from the Orange Co Fair (will be there next week).
                                              Thanks

                                  2. re: CarrieWas218

                                    Nickel Diner doughnut is a great concept but just so-so on excecution.

                                    -----
                                    Nickel Diner
                                    524 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                                  3. Just got home and here is the final roll-call of every bit of fried dough I ate - each one will be written up individually (three are already posted):

                                    FRIDAY NIGHT
                                    Argentine empanadas; beef and spinach - El Gaucho Meat Market
                                    Colombian empanadas; beef - Mi Ama
                                    Salvadorean empanada; beef and banana - Merlos
                                    Apple Fritter - Donut King II
                                    Roti Canai and Curry Puff (Malaysian)- Belacon Grill
                                    Belashi & Chebureki - Gambrinus

                                    SATURDAY
                                    Chocolate-filled malasada - King's Hawaiian
                                    Red Velvet, Strawberry Crunch, Irish Car Bomb, and Bacon Maple doughnuts - Nickel Diner
                                    Churro - Mr. Churro
                                    Apple Fritter and Glazed Doughnut Hole - The Donut Hole (drive-through in La Puente)

                                    SUNDAY
                                    Peach Doughnut and Cruller (both sourcream and blueberry/raspberry fillings)- Donut Man
                                    Argentine empanadas; spinach, potato, and criolla - Empanadas Place
                                    Funnel cake, deep-fried Twinkie, deep-fried butter, chocolate-covered deep-fried bacon, fried cinnamon crisps - Orange County Fair
                                    Papadams and gulab jamun - India Tandoori

                                    MONDAY
                                    Apple fritter, devil's food, and maple cruller - Randy's Donuts

                                    -----
                                    Mi Ama Restaurant
                                    14605 Prairie Ave, Lawndale, CA 90260

                                    Donut Man
                                    915 E Rte 66, Glendora, CA 91740

                                    Randy's Donuts
                                    805 West Manchester Ave, Inglewood, CA 90301

                                    Donut King
                                    15032 S Western Ave, Gardena, CA

                                    Nickel Diner
                                    524 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                                    El Gaucho
                                    425 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

                                    Gambrinus
                                    136 Internatl Boardwalk, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

                                    Empanadas Place
                                    3011 Harbor Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: CarrieWas218

                                      Anxiously awaiting some of these. :)

                                      1. re: QualityMart

                                        Well, here's the first four:
                                        Salvadorean: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7251...
                                        Colombian: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7247...
                                        Argentine: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7244...
                                        Donut King: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7245...

                                        There will be one a day on FriedDoughHo.com which I will report here as well.

                                        -----
                                        Donut King
                                        15032 S Western Ave, Gardena, CA