Beyond the San Diego Zoo and Sea World, San Diego is known for one thing: food. San Diego boasts some of the most impressive eateries that have been featured everywhere from Food Network to Travel Channel and countless magazines. That’s why, on a recent trip to San Diego I set out to find the best food that the county had to offer using Yelp! as my guide.
Now, I’m not usually a breakfast person, but when Yelp! directed me to the Donut Bar in downtown San Diego, I knew they were a must-visit location. Featuring artisan doughnuts that are made from scratch daily, using only the finest ingredients, Donut Bar features specialties including a Crème brûlée doughnut, bacon Jim Beam maple bar, and the Brad-Fritter renamed after a recent visit by Brad Pitt’s assistant for his favorite breakfast pastry!
With a variety of choices that change daily, Donut Bar is in such demand that they sell out daily, and usually by 11 am.
“When I was trying to decide where we should build out donut shop, I knew almost immediately that this was the perfect location thanks to the locals. I would ask people walking down the street if they knew of any local donut shops, and they always said ‘no.’ I knew right then, that by them knowing that there worn’t any donut shops in Downtown, that meant they had at some point looked for a donut shop in this area just to be let down, and I knew this was our spot.” Co-owner and founder Santiago Campa told me over some morning joe.
Located in the Gaslamp District between B Street and 7th Avenue, Donut Bar is perfect for local business professionals on their way to work as well as for tourists like myself, who want to try something unique to the city. Filling two stories, on the bottom floor you are greeted with excellent service inside their quaint bakery with doughnuts filling almost all available space, and on the second story, guests are welcomed to sit and enjoy their coffee and pastries in a welcoming and cozy loft filled with unique varieties of chairs overlooking the city. Whether you have two minutes of twenty, the Donut Shop is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy some of the best doughnuts in existence.
“What I wanted to do differently than most other doughnut shops is use quality ingredients and methods for making our offerings. Our doughnuts for example, we glaze and hand design each doughnut individually, so each one is unique and receives the attention it deserves. I also make sure that for our toppings, we purchase only the best ingredients, using real Reeses peanut butter cups in our Reeses doughnut, not the cheap knock-offs. If people are coming here for artisan doughnuts, we want to genuinely provide them that.”
And artisan doughnuts they are! Santiago provided a dozen doughnuts for us to try, and I was instantly impressed with each offering. The Crème brûlée doughnut for example, features a hard sugar exterior, a light, fluffy dough, and a custard filling that I’ve never seen attempted before. Their red velvet doughnuts are absolute heaven, harnessing the main flavors of their cake counterparts, but making their selection more flavorful and moistly dense.
In addition to their doughnuts, Santiago’s crew also serves freshly made-to-order waffles and specialty drinks. Having experience working in a coffee shop myself, I was pleasantly surprised as how sweet their espresso was, blending wonderfully in the hazelnut latte I tried, along with all of their seasonal drinks ranging from pumpkin spice drip coffee to their salted caramel and red velvet lattes.
When you really think about it though, customers should expect nothing less from the Donut Bar. Founded by a couple of passionate and dedicated food connoisseurs with a desire to share their love of honest real donuts with people that will enjoy them, Santiago and his partner Wendy Bartels have years of experience in both management and food preparation. Always impressed but never surprised at their professionalism and detail to quality, the Donut Bar is the must-visit breakfast location in San Diego.