The donut. Or is it doughnut? Don’t fret, you can use either. If you want to be proper about it, doughnut was the word first used to describe these delectable fried dough creations. However, since its American variation “donut” has become mainstream since the mid-20th Century, this alternate spelling has made its way into the pages of Merriam-Webster. However you want to spell it, there is no denying its appeal. Most of us have childhood memories of the classics; lined up in a pink box, glazed and sprinkled to perfection. While nationwide chains have garnered the spotlight in years past, my vote will always be for the local shops that turn out small batches, crowded on trays behind glass for me to choose from. The question really becomes, do I chose an old-school classic in all its cake or raised glory or a new-school version in Cron’t or Naughty Cream-Filled form? You can’t really go wrong either way. The only thing that’s wrong is to let guilt get in your way. It has no place here.
Below is a list of local donut shops here in Oakland that I have visited, heard of, or day dreamed about after driving by. While it doesn’t include all of the spots here in The Town where you can find fried dough in donut form, its enough to get you started.
OAKLAND’S “OLD SCHOOL” DONUT SHOPS
By and large, this is my consistent go-to and will always be my favorite. I grew up in Montclair, which is home to one of Colonial Donuts’s shops; there are three in total. However, its the original Lakeshore Avenue store that will always be my favorite to visit. Open 24 hours a day, its where I take my kids when they wake up at the crack of dawn and a spike of sugar is what I need to get moving. Don’t forget to grab scratchers for the kids to work on while you wait for the sugar to hit your veins. My favorites are the glazed old-fashioned and the maple bar (no filling please).
Colonial Donuts Lakeshore – 3318 Lakeshore Avenue Oakland, CA 94610
Colonial Donuts Uptown – 1636 Franklin Street Oakland, CA 94612
Colonial Donuts Montclair – 6126 LaSalle Avenue Oakland, CA 94611
Golden Gate Donuts
An old-school Temescal shop, Golden Gate Donuts is next on my list after I detox from my recent donut intake. The store is lovingly reviewed on Yelp, with several high marks for their apple fritters. My favorite comment is “The donuts here are only standard. You won’t find anything fancy.” That is the reason to go, because fancy is overrated sometimes. Although in an ironic twist, they categorize their flavor options as regular, fancy, and EXTRA fancy…which I love. Important to note: CASH ONLY. So stop at the ATM, and pop in for a dose of traditional donut goodness.
Golden Gate Donuts is located at 4201 Telegraph Avenue Oakland, CA 94609
Another neighborhood spot, Dick’s Donuts on High Street is described as “unassuming”, “hole in the wall”, and “old-school”, and has several marks for being one of the best in the city. These are reasons why I am adding it to the list as a classic spot to add to the rotation when a donut craving comes calling. Keep in mind this is another spot that accepts CASH ONLY.
Dick’s Donuts is located at 3417 High Street Oakland, CA 94619
A few other old school spots to consider:
Lucky Donuts in the Laurel District @ 4010 MacArthur Blvd, a classic old-school shop with all your favorites.
Star-Lights Donuts in West Oakland @ 900 Market Street gets good reviews for “service with a smile”.
Lee’s Donuts has several shops throughout the East Bay. Check out their North Oakland shops @ 4496 Broadway and 2013 Telegraph Ave.
OAKLAND’S “NEW SCHOOL” DONUT SHOPS
If you are a fan of donuts, you have likely heard of Doughnut Dolly by now. The original location tucked into the Temescal Alleys was one of the first new-school donut shops to open its doors in our city in recent years. The decision to offer up only one type of hand rolled donut with a small selection of fillings did not backfire. It became a sensation that led to a second location in Berkeley in 2014, and a soon to be third across the bay. I am normally not one for filled donuts. However, if I’m in the right mood I will take a naughty cream-filled version and not complain.
Doughnut Dolly Temescal – 482 B 49th Street Oakland, CA 94609
Doughnut Dolly Berkeley – 1313 9th Street Berkeley, CA 94710
I tried out Uptown’s Donut Savant for the first time last week. Lured by talk of something called a “Cron’t”, a square-shaped cross between a donut and a croissant, I was not disappointed. I give kudos to Donut Savant for offering up many of their delicious flavor creations in miniature form, which helps alleviate the guilt which we are supposed to be setting aside. Salted maple and coconut dream are two offerings I know I will enjoy again. Keep in mind this Uptown spot is located on a busy block of Broadway, parking in the area can get a bit tricky. A plus is you can order for pick up in advance online @ www.donutsavant.com
Donut Savant – 1934 Broadway Oakland, CA 94612
Pepples Donut Farm
A farm that grows donuts?? I’m in! A farm that grows vegan donuts?? I’m curious, and definitely still in. Dishing out 100% organic vegan donuts since 2010, Pepples is up to four locations, with its original plot on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland still churning out flavors such as blueberry and lemon poppy. A visit to this local farm is definitely in the cards.
Pepples Oakland – 6037 San Pablo Avenue Oakland, CA 94608
Pepples Berkeley – 1312 Gilman Street Berkeley, CA 94706
Pepples also has a kiosk in the SF Ferry Building and they recently opened a location in Los Angeles if you are ever down south and have a hankering for vegan donut deliciousness
Another new school offering to keep in mind: donut holes at Pizzaiolo :o)
I hope you take a moment out of your day to pop into one of these local spots to celebrate this national day of the donut. Whether you go with an old-school or new-school offering, all versions are being raised, baked, fried, and glazed with a dose of local love.
Enjoy and Happy National Donut Day!
Photo by Adrienne Schell
top left: cinnamon sugar cake donut from Colonial Donuts
bottom left: glazed old-fashioned from Colonial Donuts
top right: vanilla glazed Cron’t from Donut Savant
bottom right: cinnamon sugar Cron’t from Donut Savant