Cuisine Scene: Donuts

National Donut Day is June 3 – as if you needed to be reminded – a day to celebrate the doughy perfections that have origins dating back to the 15th century. The donut has gone through numerous iterations and styles (did you know the classic, hole-in-the-middle model is a relatively new development, well, 1847) and continues its delicious evolution to this day. Look no farther than Long Beach, which is rife with shops serving classic crullers and maple bars to joints with artists/mad donut scientists creating the likes of Oreo Crumb, PB&J and, wait for it, Cream Cheese and Hot Cheetos donuts. Whether you prefer your donut on the run or on a plate, here's a sampling of shops whose creations are definitely worth the dough.

Sweet Retreat

Owners Dary and Sreyrot Chan sometimes sit at their kitchen table discussing new creations; soon after come donuts in the shape of unicorns, ones featuring passion fruit or maybe something combining cream cheese and yes, hot Cheetos. Their level of sophistication and artistry is exceptional and explains why Sweet Retreat (924 E. Pacific Coast Highway) donuts have become a popular, creative option for wedding receptions. At their location for seven years now, Sweet Retreat mixes classic donuts, with contemporary artistic creations with a considerable, and highly praised, vegan donut menu.

Simone’s Donuts

Given its classic donut lineup and wide-ranging inventory of grab-and-go items, Simone’s (6400 E. Stearns St.) is perfectly situated just blocks from Cal State Long Beach. It’s the kind of place a harried student could run in for a maple bar, cup of coffee or container of Cup O’ Noodles before a test or reward themselves after with what more than a few people believe to be the best Cronut in town. Simone’s is also popular for their “Letter Donuts” that can be ordered to spell out “Congrats Grad!” or “Maybe Next Year!”

Knead

This rock star has been attracting customers and attention ever since it showed up half a dozen years ago. Knead’s (3490 E. Seventh St.; 5105 Pacific Coast Highway) gourmet fare is both visually stunning and remarkably balanced – owner Huey Behuynh is not a fan of the super sweet. Consider their chocolate-sourdough tiger tail, tart blueberry or the crispy sweet and savoriness of their Creme Brulee donut. If you require sweetness, look no farther than their ultra-delicious Vietnamese iced coffee. Knead has won its share of awards and become a Hollywood go-to, having catered parties for the likes of the “Dr. Phil” show as well as “Grace and Frankie.”

Devi’s

Owner/chef Eva Ognibene’s vegan creations are known for being light and airy as well as delicious. She makes about 300 donuts, by hand, each weekday and about twice that number on weekends. The creations include PB&J, Espresso Whip Cream, Cinnamon Crumb and a Double and Triple Chocolate that still manages a feathery touch. Be advised that Devi’s (3600 E. Anaheim St.)–named after Eva and co-owner/husband Tom’s daughter–shop is too small for the usual glass display case, so you’d do well to order online and then pick it up.

Angel Food Donuts

Folks in Bixby Knolls were so concerned that their local gem would be adversely affected by the pandemic shutdown that an online campaign was started to encourage neighbors to pledge to patronize the business on a weekly basis. It worked. Angel Food (3860 Long Beach Blvd.) survived and continues to make lots of great classic donuts, displayed in a rather voluminous case. The place is also well-known for making one of the city’s best ham and cheese croissants and some great coffee, all of it easily accessible at not one, but two drive-through windows.

Photo: Angel Food Donuts
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Steve Lowery