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So many SF donut shops!

As a transplant from Boston, where the vile Dunkin' Donuts somehow continues to proliferate, I'm in awe of all the independent (and seemingly mostly Asian-owned) donut shops in the city. So, are any of them any good? We sampled a bear claw and apple fritter from the Noe Valley Happy Donuts. Admittedly, these were not donuts, but we were underwhelmed with the bear claw, and the apple fritter was almost cloyingly sweet. This morning, we had a somewhat better experience with Donut World in Inner Sunset, sampling sticks, twists, and donuts. The one thing of note was the jelly donut, which had an interesting, almost sour jelly filling.

I've yet to try Dynamo and Pepples, but they are both on my list. So, are there other places worth sampling in the city? And if so, what specifically is tasty?

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  1. Bob's Donuts on Polk. I didn't really like donuts or donut shops until I tried their apple fritter.

    1. Go to Bob's on Polk St. If you get there at night around 10-11 they start rolling out the batches for the next day and they're excellent fresh.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ML8000

        Yes, whatever's fresh at Bob's, any time of day. Vastly better than Dynamo and the other upscale imitators.

      2. Don't be dissin' the dunkin'! Actually as a transplant myself I sometimes miss the "flagship""Dunkin' Donut", which I believe the corporate overlords discontinued. It was a donut with a "handle" on the side and according to the pledge taken at DDUniversity was made every 4 hours, 24 hours a day.A lot of donut shops are currently run by Cambodian immigrants in one of those strange ethnic affiliation things that once led to Greek pasta based chili parlors in the mid-west. Try Bob's for real donut value. Also the things called "french crullers" at a lot of places seem unique to San Francisco to me. Kind of like a fried pop-over with chocolate on it and how bad could that be?

        1 Reply
        1. re: little big al

          Dunkin Donuts also makes a french cruller, it's what we call an "old fashioned" which is more unique to San Francisco.

          If you get a honey dipped, or the similar yeast donuts with a flavored glaze, it should take care of a DD craving. 7-11 Donuts are also similar.

        2. Not really. The only one that I found acceptable was Happy Donuts at 761 3rd St.

          The place you mentioned on Noe was not good. I don't understand these recs for Bobs; maybe I tried the wrong place on Polk, but I think that I tried Bobs (is there another nearby?). Note worth a repeat. Or, maybe it's improved in the past few years.

          I occasional stop for a Dynamo. Keep in mind that it's much more expensive.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jman1

            Bob's isn't going to live up to the folklore unless you try them fresh. Otherwise they're too dense.

            1. re: sugartoof

              You have to ask what's fresh when you go to Bob's. Usually these are not in the window but on a rack or on the oven. Otherwise you end up with very tired donuts.

          2. Don't bother with preeples if your looking for something like Dunkin donuts. they're way to healthy tasting

            Bobs is good fresh. I've have their popular apple fritter a few times and always find them overbooked or bordering in burnt

            If you're over in the east bay, try Andy's in Richmond. They're the best doughnuts I've had in The bay area and they're open 24/7

            1. I was in the City the other night and near Bob's so I stopped and got a dozen, freshly made. Fresh they are as good as advertised. But they also held up the next day and still had a crisp exterior on the cake donuts and were still soft 2 days later but nothing special. $7.90 for a regular dozen.

              1. Really, is there any such thing as a bad donut?

                1. Yes, it is interesting to see so many mom and pop donut shops around. Here they seem to specialize in the cake donuts rather than the raised yeast variety of Dunkin Donuts. I pretty much never ate donuts before but now hanker after the buttermilk variety-- crunchy on the outside with a tangy vanilla flavored batter. They look like a donut that someone pressed a cup into and flattened. Sadly, no one serves the DD coffee the way DD does-- ie a gallon of kind of weak coffee mixed with an equal amount of cream and a pound of sugar in every cup.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Tumkers

                    And thank god for that. True, I may have learned to drink DD coffee (a "regulah" is as you described above in the Greater Boston area), but I had divorce from them several years ago as my coffee palate evolved.

                    1. re: Spenbald

                      Did you ever get to Bob's?

                      I think part of the reason Dunkin Donuts coffee tastes good is you're having it with a donut.

                      1. re: Windy

                        Not yet, but the resounding recommendations have not gone unnoticed. Plus, Scoutmob currently has a 100% off deal which cannot be ignored. I may soon be working in the Civic Center area, which is much closer than home, so I hope to get there soon.

                        1. re: Windy

                          That would explain the DD coffee thing, but I don't think the die hards are even using donuts to wash that stuff down, they genuinely think it's the best coffee.

                          1. re: sugartoof

                            They used to say that about Chock Full of Nuts when I was growing up. I don't remember anyone claiming Dunkin was great coffee. Starbucks was a cut above when it appeared everywhere in the early 90s.

                            When I was in NY in June, I was at the Dunkin Donuts booth at a fair in Central Park. They were giving away t-shirts to people who could identify items on their new menus which apparently include healthy breakfasts and salads. Bizarre.

                            1. re: Windy

                              Dukin had (has?) a strong coffee following in the Boston area (their home base). In the 90's, many people went out of their way to purchase beans from Dukin (even if they where not donut eaters).

                              1. re: Windy

                                People love that Dunkin coffee. It's a rare day when coffee comes up on the NY side of CH, and someone doesn't sincerely suggest DD alongside Blue Bottle, etc. You can even buy the 1lb. bags for home roasting. At least Chock Full of Nuts has the nut bread w/ cream cheese.

                                1. re: sugartoof

                                  I didn't realize Chock Full of Nuts still existed. I love date nut bread and cream cheese.

                                  1. re: Windy

                                    They reopened during the last year or so.

                      2. King Pin Donuts on Telegraph in Berkeley is a good bet as well. Great holes, and a very good old fashioned. Similar to Bob's but seems to be fresher (but that may be because i don't have to drive as far, and my craving is fresh when I get one as a result).