As a San Francisco “transplant”, there are several things about SF life that I miss dearly: the awesome Victorian buildings and sense of history in every neighborhood; the way you get caught in a stormy wind tunnel at certain downtown intersections; the likelihood that you will “bump into someone” in your daily travels whom you haven’t seen for years (the last time being at some far-off location unrelated to SF), causing you both to think, “Whoa, small world”. But one you-don’t-know-what-you’ve-got-’til-it’s-gone element of SF is the quirky all-night donut shop “Bob’s Donuts” on Polk Street. Bob’s specialize in classic, greasy donuts – that type of perfectly executed, tasty donuts that make you miss the simple pleasure of a donut after you get stuck in a Starbuck’s croissant rut for a while.
Up until recently, my donut intake in Los Angeles has been limited to the daylight hours, which is totally unfortunate. The daytime should be dedicated to kale, working out at the gym, and calorie-counting. The nighttime is when I get a little freaky-deaky, when I gotta let loose and eat some frosting under the cover of darkness. It’s been tough to find a fresh donut in the middle of the night, but I didn’t realize that the solution has been sitting under my nose in Koreatown all along (since 1982, in fact).
California Donuts is an all-night donut shop on 3rd Street with an impressive array of donuts (devil’s food, raised, crullers, fritters, cake, old fashioned. matcha green tea glazed…), fancier donuts (crazy puppet creations, chocolate chip cinnamon rolls, bar and twists covered in sugary cereal), and croissant donuts (check the menu below the spider – a standout is the speculoos crunch). They’ve even got their savory croissant game on point, with jalapeno-ham-and-cheese and a bulky breakfast croissant sandwich on the menu.
Ordering can be a little tricky. This spot is typically busy, and there is no defined area to line up. Add a crazy variety of treats in the window to gawk at – causing increasingly difficult moments of decision-making – and you can expect a somewhat stressful trip for donuts. As far as I can tell, there are no peak periods to watch out for. There can be an overwhelming wave of customers at, say… 7PM on a Wednesday – but then barely a trickle at the same time on Thursday. The parking is a bitch, too, but you can sneak into the laundromat parking lot next door in a pinch.
You can come to California Donuts at all hours of the night and get your fix. “San Fra… what? Never heard of it.”
California Donuts is located at:
3540 W. 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90020