By Pete Kane
The cronut/croughnut craze earned its fair share of eyerolls because it was so transparently gimmicky. However, those eyes tended to roll all the way back into people's heads once they actually ate one. And then there's the actual doughnut, a once-humble breakfast item that's been fancified right along with the Third Wave coffee you'd never think of dunking one in. San Francisco has no lack of great options.
At first glance, the Pork Belly doughnuts at The Willows (1582 Folsom, 529-2039, thewillowssf.com) in SOMA look more like one of those Chinese takeout afterthoughts that you tack onto the end of an order, but hot and fresh, with maple bourbon glaze, they're delicious. At three for $6.25, they're neither pricey nor dirt-cheap, but just about the epitome of bar junk food.
And it's obvious that The Willows' inspiration came at least in part from Dynamo (2760 24th St. or 110 Yacht Rd., 920-1978, dynamodonut.com), whose maple bacon doughnut is the equivalent to Humphry Slocombe's Secret Breakfast: It's what almost everyone wants to try on their first time in. That said, it's the Bitter Queen that really shows off Sara Spearin's baking prowess. Flecked with grapefruit and iced with a Campari glaze, it's light and surprisingly subtle, and the impish name folds neatly into Dynamo's queer vibe.
For an actual croughnut, you'll have to schlep to the Bayview, where CDXX (5800 Third St., 652-5450, cdxx.co) — 420 in Roman numerals — fries a supremely flaky version. Coated completely in sugar, and served with a jazzy caramel drizzle, it's a latecomer to the croughnut scene that proves this was no mere fad — and you can get a blueberry pie one.
But for the absolute zenith of fussiness, turn to weekend pop-up Bespoke Doughnuts (facebook.com/bespokedoughnuts). These boys don't have to get up at 1 a.m. like real bakers because every single doughnut on the rotating menu is made to order, and the Tacoughnut is a masterpiece of fusion, made with chipotle-infused tinga, cilantro, onion, and an avocado crema filling. At $4.50 a pop, they're hardly a Krispy Kreme, but absolutely worth every messy bite.
Tags: Food & Drink