Dynamo Donuts and Coffee – San Francisco

Dynamo Donuts - San Francisco

Last December, Eater LA asked a slew of the city’s food writers to predict a dining world headline for 2011. My prediction—Gourmet Doughnuts Overtake Cupcakes and Macarons!—wasn’t based on anything substantial, just a secret hope I’ve been harboring since thoroughly stuffing my face at New York’s Doughnut Plant and at Seattle’s Top Pot Doughnuts and Frost Doughnuts.

We’re three months into 2011 and there’s no sign of a gourmet doughnut shop opening anywhere in the city. Though a deep-fried revolution doesn’t seem likely in the remaining months, I’m keeping my fingers tightly crossed. Until L.A. gets its doughnut act together, I am forced to satisfy my cravings on the road at places like Dynamo Donuts in San Francisco.

Dynamo Donuts and Coffee - San Francisco

Sara Spearin opened Dynamo in 2008 after graduating from the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont and honing her pastry skills at a slew of fine dining restaurants in New York and San Francisco. Dynamo is dedicated to using organic, sustainable, and local ingredients whenever possible. All doughnuts are handmade daily, with a rotating selection of seven to ten donuts available each day.

Dynamo Donuts - San Francisco

I was hoping to get my paws on one of Dynamo’s famous bacon maple doughnuts, but alas, they were sold out by the time our crew arrived. Instead, I chose the “Bitter Queen” ($3), which was comprised of a candied grapefruit doughnut topped with an elderflower glaze and Campari sugar.

I was skeptical that a doughnut could ever taste anything but sweet and really sweet, but this creation surprised me with its legitimately bitter notes. The light and delicate yeast dough provided the ideal base for the grapefruit and apéritif to do what they do best—elicit bitter faces.

Dynamo Donuts - San Francisco

The Astronomer picked out the apricot cardamom ($2) because he is currently obsessed with all things cardamom. It was comprised of a cardamom doughnut studded with dried apricots and currants and topped with a cardamom glaze. Though it was a palate pleasing doughnut, the cardamom flavors weren’t as clean and distinct as The Astronomer had hoped for.

Dynamo Donuts - San Francisco

My cousin Michael chose the spiced chocolate ($2.50). A sprinkling of chili powder upon the cakey doughnut’s surface brought a mild wave of heat along with the chocolaty sweetness.

Dynamo Donuts - San Francisco

My cousin Timmy shared the molasses Guinness ($3) with his gal Jessica. While they were hoping for a blast of hops and malt, the molasses stood front and center instead. Little pieces of apples were woven throughout the batter.

Dynamo Donuts - San Francisco

My friend A.J. indulged in a cornmeal and rosemary doughnut with dried cherries and a buttermilk glaze ($3). The coarse grains of cornmeal were a textural bonus.

Los Angeles has exactly 300 days to make my gourmet doughnut prediction a reality. Will someone step up to the plate? Pretty please?

Dynamo Donut
2760 24th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Phone: 415-920-1978

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15 Responses to “Dynamo Donuts and Coffee – San Francisco”


  • I fully support you! I love donuts and would totally patronize a gourmet donut place. Until then when I’m home I stick to tried and true plain glazed donuts at Mr. Goods in Alhambra. =)

  • Love Dynamo, but they are a trek from my house and I always get there too late so the bacon maple are always sold out. I usually satiate myself w/ the spiced chocolate. If you ever hit the Ferry Building, you should absolutely go to the Pepples kiosk (it’s on my blog w/ a horrid photo) — they are vegan, but so dang delicious. Plus a nice variety of interesting flavors and traditional (plus, you’re at the Ferry Building and can later gorge on Boccalone or Cowgirl Creamery or Hapa Ramen’s stand…choice are endless!). Happy eating to you in my hometown from San Francisco, my new (well, 15 years new) hometown.

  • O hell yes. Until LA gets itself one of these, I guess I’m going to have to list this as a must-go the next time I’m up north or force one of my SF friends to bring me some the next time they come visit. Drool.

  • Where are LA’s gourmet doughnuts!! WHERE ARE THEY!?! Maybe the next Eat My Blog should be a doughnut-only event?

  • I’ve really got to make an effort to make the trip over, don’t they also have a bacon coffee beverage on the menu? Your photos make them look especially delicious girl!

  • Should we start a “Bring Gourmet Donuts to LA” petition? I bet the J Gold would sign it. ;)

  • mmmm donuts. i like them so much and i want a bacon maple one for breakfast!

  • Here’s to hoping something overtakes the cupcakes trend. It seems pie is on the rise, but doughnuts are just as good.

    All these unique flavors look and sound so delicious. The rosemary cornmeal and spiced chocolate especially.

  • We were in SF over Christmas/New Year’s on vacay from Ottawa in Canada (i.e. really far away). She was closed up the day we tried to go :-( This post makes me even more disappointed but perhaps this is yet another reason to go back to SF :-) Glad you enjoyed it…I imagine SUBTLE flavours are difficult in a doughnut, hence the cardamom and Guiness troubles (deep-frying would tend to ‘fry’ the subtle aromas, no?).

  • You had me at Campari … one of my favorite beverages. I drink it with soda or something put a splash in OJ. Bitter Queen RULES! Muahaha (I can say that loud and proud since it’s Feminist Day…). And the cardamom version looks increds as well. Good job Astronomer. What’s up with LA and doughnuts???!

  • I haven’t been to Dynamo’s proper, but I did try a few at Four Barrel Coffee. I have fond memories of the passion fruit one!

  • I drove forever in the rain only to get there as the last one sold. Woe is me. I follow them on twitter to torture myself.

  • How does this compare to Donut Plant? It’s the only Donut I ever crave for….

  • KFP - Not as tasty as Doughnut Plant because the doughnuts are cold due to S.F. weather conditions. The booth is very susceptible to outdoor temps.

  • I finally sampled Dynamo this week on a trip to San Fran and oh. my. goodness. So incredible! I loved their raised yeast lemon thyme doughnut. Thank you for sharing!

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