Fried Dough quest in Los Angeles
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
12365 Foothill Blvd, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91739
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.
915 E Rte 66, Glendora, CA 91740
2918 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
10948 Weyburn Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90024
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.
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.
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.
708 E Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
846 E 6th St
Beaumont, CA 92223
on the way to Palm Springs.