Donuts are always a good idea. There’s nothing like a sugary, pillowy ring of fried dough to give us a burst of energy in the morning or power us through a questionable all-nighter. And lucky for us, there are tons of great donut spots in SF. Here are 10 of our favorites.
photo credit: Taisuke Yamamoto for Mochill Mochi Donut
Soaking in the sun at Dolores Park is one way to instantly feel good. Another is to just walk up to Mochill Mochidonut. At the Japantown mall kiosk, ring-shaped mochi donuts that come in an assortment of fun colors and glazes are the name of the game. Rich dark chocolate, matcha oreo, black sesame, even one with puffy Fruity Pebbles on top will beckon you from behind the small glass case. But aside from looking like something we want to dedicate an entire scrapbook to, these donuts taste incredible. They’re super chewy and taste about as close to literal sunshine as you can get.
The plump brioche donuts at this casual all-day restaurant/bakery in NoPa are a gateway to sugar pillow-induced heaven. The flavors rotate, but you might see strawberry jam-filled donuts coated in basil sugar one day and donuts oozing with pomegranate chocolate cream filling the next. Cutting into one of the luxurious treats, and sipping on a cappuccino is a great way to start a morning, and much better than rolling out of bed and eating a granola bar for breakfast.
Twisted Donuts and Coffee
This family-run spot in the Sunset nails classic donuts, from maple bacon and old-fashioneds to chocolate bars. But their creative weekend specials are what keep us coming back—think Bavarian crème brûlée, PB&J, and mochi donuts with colorful glazes. It’s also one of the few spots with vegan options (the one glazed with sweet guava is our go-to). Grab a white chocolate mocha or frappe to wash it all down.
What makes the city’s only German pastry shop special is the attention to detail chef and owner Ha Do puts into her beautiful cakes, pies, and other sweets. Case in point: the Berliner. These seasonal jam and custard-filled donuts are fluffy and light thanks to the sunflower seed oil they’re fried in, and topped with a super fine powdered sugar that gets all over the place (in a delightfully messy way) with every bite. Hahdough has two locations you can order a box of a dozen from—the original takeout window in Hayes Valley, and a larger spot in NoPa. Or just pop into either spot to pick up a few to go.
The promise of a tangy, sweet passion fruit milk chocolate donut from Dynamo Donut & Coffee is one foolproof way to get us out of bed in the morning. Another? Getting to choose from their rotating list of donuts with unique, seasonal flavors (before inevitably ordering one of each), like mango tangerine, banana dulce de leche, or pink lemonade. They have vegan and gluten-free options, plus espresso drinks and tea. You can pick up these fantastic donuts at their shop in the Mission or their small kiosk on the Bay Trail in the Marina.
Bob’s Donuts on Polk Street in Nob Hill fries up incredible classic glazed donuts and apple fritters, all day, every day. Which is great news if you love donuts more than your pet (if so, please consider getting their “giant donut” and taking "The Challenge"). And, cool fact: This 24-hour spot has been churning out puffy, airy classics since the 1960s. Head to Bob’s newer location in NoPa if you’re in the area (though, it’s only open until 9pm).
Uncle Benny’s in the Sunset is a great spot for a quick breakfast—they have tons of bagel sandwiches, coffee, and fresh juices. But chances are very high that something from their neatly-organized case of colorful, freshly-made donuts will call to you. They focus on classic flavors here, like apple fritters, sprinkle donuts, glazed old-fashioneds, and maple bacon, all of which will immediately send sugar coursing through your veins, in the best way. Fill a big box with an assortment of flavors and take it across the street to Golden Gate Park.
If you’re looking for a classic donut spot to satisfy a 3am craving, this is the place. There are multiple locations in SF, but the Noe Valley outpost is the one open 24-hours. No matter what time of day it is, you’ll always find the coffee pots full, and the pastry case stocked and well-lit, like a beacon after a night of bar-hopping down Valencia. The apple fritters at this place are bigger than a newborn baby’s head, the old-fashioneds are always perfectly cakey, and even better—nothing costs more than $2.50.
photo credit: Johnny Doughnuts
Editor's note: Johnny Doughnuts is temporarily closed while they move to a new location.
The donuts at this Hayes Valley spot are bigger than the palm of your hand (or both hands if you happen to have small hands). And you probably won’t hear the phrase “light and airy” used to describe anything on the menu—these donuts are more cake-like and on the denser side. At Johnny Doughnuts, you have a range of choices, from lime poppy seed glazed to cinnamon-y old-fashioneds to croissant-donut hybrids (called the “crodough”). They also have cinnamon rolls, and vegan and wheat-free options. Order online if you want to pick up an assorted box (4-, 6-, 8-, and 12-packs are available) without having to make tough donut decisions. But to customize your picks, drop by the shop.
All Stars Donuts
When you see the word “DONUTS” in big green letters running down a sign on a white corner building, you’ll know you’ve made it. All Stars Donuts in the Richmond is where we go to fill up on sprinkle-covered donut holes, maple donuts dotted with bacon, and cinnamon twists that are softer than our tempurpedic mattress topper. The old-school spot has a few cafeteria-style tables to eat your donuts if you want to stay a while, but we like to take a few pounds of donuts to Golden Gate Park and sample each in the sun.