The Definitive Food Critic’s Rankings of Santa Clarita DonutsSean Malin August 26, 2018 0 COMMENTS
In a world where freedom from gluten is a choice and butter can be substituted with coconut extract, the donut has lost much of its stock as the working person’s treat. Locally-sourced, herbaceous gelato and Postmated cake pops have seemingly pushed the simple pleasures of a fresh-baked glazed out of the collective diet, and for good reason (heart disease, America’s #1 killer, is at historic lows).
Apparently, the Santa Clarita Valley never got the memo. Flourishing amidst the never-ending turnover of new businesses is a collective of donut shops whose excellence is an act of defiance against increasing corporate homogeneity. Their shared success is not only because of the sumptuousness of their products, however. It is their rootedness in this city – their unflappability in the face of Dunkin, Yum Yum, and S&S – that has imprinted on residents a sense of stability: family-made donuts are here to stay.
But the donuts available across this wide desert city vary tremendously from place to place, of course, with some reaching new peaks of frosted genius with each bite and others demanding to be thrown away. As our valley continues its unceasing expansion, the time has finally come to provide a local’s guide to the best and brightest examples of fine donuts available here. Here, then, is The Proclaimer’s definitive* ranking of Santa Clarita donut-makers.
*Don’t worry: this list is by no means “definitive.” Objectivity is a construct, anyway.
6. Honey Donuts – 24715 Railroad Ave, Newhall, CA 91321
Recommendation: Apple Fritter
In a corner lot across from Newhall Station is Honey, a quietly successful mom-and-pop joint with a fervently dedicated customer base. Over the years, students and commuters have turned Honey into an everyday stop on the way into or out of town. As a result, Honey times itself to traffic, staying open only from 4a to 3p most days. Still, it’s worth an early morning trip: a warm apple fritter leaves an impressively tart tang on your tongue for hours.
5. Pam’s Donuts & Ice Cream – 28016 Seco Canyon Rd, Saugus, CA 91390
Recommendation: Devil’s Food
I’ve written elsewhere about the inimitable crumble that Pam’s Donuts coaxes out of its Devil’s Food pastries, but its pleasures cannot be overstated. Made fresh every day, the offerings at this secluded suburban shop are among SCV’s most expertly baked. Unfortunately, success is a double-edged sword: Pam’s frequently runs out of its tastiest treats mid-morning, so temper your expectations before a visit.
4. Luv’n Donuts – 27051 McBean Pkwy, Ste 103, Santa Clarita, CA 91355
Recommendation: Classic Glazed
Luv’n originated with a single location in Castaic before branching out to this superior storefront at the Promenade at Town Center. To say that the Valencia location has eclipsed its predecessor understates just how tasty – and traditionally satisfying – a mid-day bite there can be. Puffy but not swollen, moist but not greasy, Luv’n’s donuts are classical, yes, but intentionally so. This is comfort food par excellence.
3. California Bakery & Café – 23021 Soledad Canyon Rd, Santa Clarita, CA 91350
Recommendation: Cheese Twirls/Buttermilk Bars
It took years for this award-winning panadería to find its place amongst the gas stations and biker bars circling Bouquet Junction. Some days, the empanadas were cold; other times, the only handmade pastries available were stiff with age. Eventually, though, California Bakery pushed through to become many locals’ most reliable donut pick-up point, with new batches baked throughout the day, an unusually sanitary atmosphere, and 24-hour availability.
2. Donut Inn 30 – 18579 Soledad Canyon Rd, Canyon Country, CA 91351
Recommendation: Large Chocolate with Rainbow Sprinkles
How do you keep the same location open for decades, outlasting supermarkets and countless restaurants? Well, start with a product as popular as apple pie yet much cheaper, and hone that product to perfection. That is the model of this beloved café, which sometime in its long life on Soledad figured out that the way to customers’ hearts was as much through their wallets as their gullets. Hence the old-timey prices and lavish sizes of its most decadent donuts, like its inimitably succulent maple bars.
1. Foster’s Donuts – 20655 Soledad Canyon Rd, Santa Clarita, California
Recommendation: Bear Claw
Wedged into a small suite in Canyon Country is the city’s most charming success story: a 20-year-old, family-owned donut shop with an all-ages clientele. Foster’s’ proprietary mix of dough, cinnamon, and molasses infuses the nostalgia and sense memory of many a Santa Claritan childhood. After a single bite, it is impossible to deny the power of a Foster’s bear claw or crulle.