Donuts score a hole in one like no other comfort food. They’re both a sweet way to start the day and a tantalizing treat anytime. We’ve found the best donuts in San Diego, where you can go sink your teeth into a sugar rush of fried dough topped with everything from classic glaze to maple bacon. We even found gluten-free and vegan donuts to enjoy! Read on for the goods so you never have to ask “where’s the yummiest donut shop near me?”
Sidecar Donuts & Coffee
Featuring daily flavors like celebration cake and maple bacon alongside seasonal flavors like Meyer lemon and cinnamon rolls, everyone finds a donut they favor here. Donuts are made fresh from scratch with yummy touches like infused glazes, hand crushed compotes, flavored custards and cream fillings.
Our Fave: Salted malted chocolate chip cookie dough
The Digs: A grab-and-go donut shop. The only seating is one table outside. The inside is light and contemporary and you get great views of the donuts.
Sweet Tip: If you feel like a more savory donut, opt for the basil eggs Benedict. It's a perfectly poached egg and hollandaise sauce inside a donut. Served at breakfast time.
Carmel Valley Neighborhood
Del Mar Highlands Town Center
3435 Del Mar Highlands Rd.
San Diego, CA 92130
Bye bye birthday cake, hello donut cake! Donutpolis gives donut lovers the ultimate gift with their three-tiered donut cake for special occasions. Additionally, they always have an array of fluffy, moist, donuts topped with creamy assortments of frosting flavors and delicious toppers including sprinkles, marshmallows, Fruit Loops and more. The prices are just as sweet: a dozen donuts costs $13, a single costs $1.35 and a decadent birthday donut is just $9.99!
Our fave: Strawberry with sprinkles.
The digs: Grab and go shop.
In their own words, "Barrio Donas represents the multilayered cultural experience that comes with living in San Diego while emphasizing the radiante beauty of Mexican-American culture––in the form of a donut." Here you'll find bold, decadent donuts like dulce del leche with coconut and a mazapan donut––and even vegan donuts in classic flavors including Chocolate Glaze, Original Glaze, Cinnamon Sugar, & Strawberry Sprinkles.
Our fave: Guava with guava filling
The digs: Cute little shop with stools and bar top seating.
4714 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92117
You'll find creative and delectable donuts at The Goods in Carlsbad. From flavors like chocolate ganache, apple fritter and Nutella, everyone is happy with their choices. Even more, they serve gluten-free donuts and vegan donuts.
Our Fave: S'mores donut
The Digs: Cute inside with tables and booths along the wall. There are bar stools with a table that faces the street for people watching.
Sweet Tip: The Goods opens at 7 a.m. (Tues.-Sun.) until the donuts are sold out. Arrive early to snag your fave!
2965 State St.
Carlsbad, CA 92008
This is not your typical donut shop! Donut Bar is famous for their artisan donuts with a menu that changes daily. Their flavors include blueberry poppa tart, maple bourbon and red velvet just to name a few.
Our Fave: Blueberry Poppa Tart Donut
The Digs: Donut Bar has an upstairs with limited seating. The downstairs is pretty small, which is why the line is always out the door.
Sweet Tip: If you’re determined to get a donut, be sure to arrive early. Donut Bar closes once the donuts are gone, which tends to happen around four hours after opening. Their donuts are a little pricier than your average donut shop, but we think you’ll love what you get.
631 B St.
San Diego, CA
This spot has been family-owned and operated since 1969 and they offer all the traditional donuts – from sprinkle-topped cake donuts to maple bars – and many others in between. VG Donut and Bakery also offers pastries and bread and they make killer special occasion cakes.
Our Fave: Cherry Iced
The Digs: VG Donut and Bakery is located in a small strip mall and the bakery does not have table seating. But it’s located across the street from the beach. We suggest you take your donuts and stroll along the sand.
Sweet Tip: VG bakes their donuts twice daily, at 4 a.m. and 4 p.m. So if you miss the morning rush, stop by in the late afternoon to satisfy your donut cravings.
106 Aberdeen Dr.
Cardiff by the Sea, CA
These gourmet donuts are from the guys behind Kettner Exchange, so expect to get a great donut that's high on the foodie factor. You won't find any fancy combinations or crazy presentations at Devil's. Instead, it's all about the classic donuts done really well. They serve gluten-free donuts on Sat. & Sun. and their flavor selection changes weekly.
Our Fave: Cinnamon sugar
The Digs: Devils Donut is a cool and hip cafe in the heart of Little Italy. Order your goodies and then pull up a seat on the ground level outdoor tables or head up to the rooftop patio for an awesome view on the harbor.
Sweet Tip: These gourmet donuts have a gourmet price tag attached so it can be a little pricier than your average donut but never fear, it will be worth every penny!
2001 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
Donut Star is a donut shop you can count on to have fresh, delicious donuts at any time of day. While Donut Star tends to sell more traditional donuts, they do have a few unique favorites, such as the chocolate-glazed red velvet and cream-filled buttermilk. Other reasons we love Donut Star: it’s open 24 hours and they accept credit cards (although there's a 50 cent surcharge and most donuts are priced at around $.80).
Our Fave: Hot glazed donut
The Digs: Donut Star is, quite simply, your old-fashioned donut store. It may not look like much from the outside, but it’s in no way a reflection of the confections inside. They also have a parking lot just outside with lots of spaces.
Sweet Tip: If you’re not in the mood for donuts, Donut Star also has breakfast sandwiches and shaved ice. The icy treat is especially popular on warm San Diego days.
601 W Washington St.
San Diego, CA (Mission Hills)
This North Park shop serves delicious donuts based on the tastes of the world right in the heart of the neighborhood. From Lemon Poppy Seed w/ Caramel Glaze and Agave Baklava to Mango Tajin Chamoy and Pomegranate w/Meyer Lemon drizzle, these flavors are adventurous and exotic. Never fear for your pickier donut eater, you'll still be able to find goodies like an old-fashioned vanilla bean, maple or chocolate glazed donut. The menu is updated frequently, so be sure to check out their Instagram to see what's on offer. A wide array of vegan-friendly donuts in adventurous flavors is also available.
Our Fave: Vegan Chocolate Glaze w/Cherry Buttercream filling
The Digs: Nomad Donut's North Park shop boasts a colorful interior, an open kitchen, and floor to ceiling windows through which passers-by can view Nomad’s bagels being hand-crafted and baked in a wood fire oven. A trio of bright display cases house made-from-scratch donuts, while aqua walls and hardwood accents create the Caribbean feel within the expanded space, where guests can also purchase Nomad’s house-made jams and macarons.
Sweet Tip: Get into Nomad early to be sure you snag your favorite flavor. There is a limited run on each donut so keep in mind that popular flavors run out by mid-morning on the weekends!
3102 University Ave.
San Diego, CA 92104
At Donut Panic you'll find delicious vegan donut options alongside their traditional donut selections. Flavor offerings rotate daily but on a typical day you'll get to dig in to maple 'bacon,' The Homer, Thai tea and Earl Grey. Don't miss their vegan, vanilla or chocolate coconut cake donuts!
Our Fave: The Homer––a nod to everyone's fave cartoon dad, is a vanilla bean donut with pink frosting and sprinkles as colorful as his character.
The Digs: Donut Panic has a super casual interior with a couch or tables where you can kick back and eat your donuts––because we're certain you won't be able to wait.
6171 Mission Gorge Rd. #113
San Diego, CA 92120
Peterson’s Donut Corner
The taste is unbelievable and their donuts have crispiness that you don’t find elsewhere. Their classic donut is the glazed maple bar (which is huge) and the bear claws and apple fritters have also become crowd favorites. Peterson’s Donut Corner is open 24 hours for late night cravings.
Our Fave: French Crullers
The Digs: The exterior of this donut shop is not terribly impressive. But it lights up with all the sweet donuts and treats inside. And little ones will love Peterson’s outdoor seating with tables shaped as hands.
Sweet Tip: Peterson’s does not accept credit cards. So, make sure you have cash in your wallet!
903 S. Escondido Blvd.
––Leah R. Singer, Beth Shea & Nikki Walsh