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Mary's Donuts

The Eater Donut Heatmap: Eight Sweet San Diego Shops

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Since cronuts seem to be on their way out, and we've tasted every local version, we now turn our attention back to the o.g. fried treat, the classic and humble donut.

The sweet, doughy puffs can brighten up workday mornings, quell the midnight munchies and help soak up last night's boozy regrets. Donut shops litter the streets of San Diego and North County, so Eater ate through the bunch of them to find the cream of the crop. From cult favorites with a 30-year history to fancy newcomers, we've got your next sugar high covered with eight sweet Eater-approved shops.

Did we miss one? Let us know where, and what to eat there, in the comments.


· Taste Testing Cronut Knockoffs; Are They Worth Eating? [~ESD~]
· All Eater San Diego Maps [~ESD~]

-Amy Granite

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Mary's Donuts

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9031 Mission Gorge Rd
Santee, CA 92071
(619) 448-4800

This landmark donut shop is a blast from the past, with photo memorabilia of donut enthusiasts covering its walls and recipes unchanged by time. The blueberry cake donut reigns supreme; tender and crumbly, it bursts with blueberry-muffin flavor, encapsulated by a crusty glaze. Cake raised crumb donuts and apple fritters are other sure winners. Open 24-7.

2. V.G. Donut & Bakery

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106 Aberdeen Dr
Cardiff by the Sea, CA 92007
(760) 753-2400
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This seaside donut shop goes off on the weekends so be prepared to wait in line for the best-selling, yeasty glazed donuts that, when pulled apart, have a stretchy-sticky thing going on that makes you want to eat ten. Crackly-crusted blueberry-buttermilk bars are worth waiting for too.

3. Rose Donuts

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5201 Linda Vista Rd
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 294-8856

The blueberry-apple fritter wins for most valuable donut here. It’s less doughy than your typical rendition, with more carmelization, crunch and just the right interspersing of moist apple and blueberry chunks. One fist-sized confection will propel you to the moon. Cash only, open 24-7. Wash it all down with a killer milkshake.

4. Stardust Donut Shop

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698 Highway 75
Imperial Beach, CA 91932
(619) 424-6200

This venerable Imperial Beach stand has been at it since 1967, and Cliff Arnold, owner and operator, is the last standing family member in three generations of local donut makers. Musts here are Arnold’s rich old fashioned donuts and infamous cinnamon rolls. Hours are unpredictable (Arnold is old, give him a break!), so calling ahead is recommended.

5. Peterson's Donut Corner

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903 S Escondido Blvd
Escondido, CA 92025
(760) 745-7774

Since 1981, Peterson’s has charmed passers by and donut hunters with its walk-up service and quaint outdoor seating. The donuts stand remarkably tall at this Escondido fry factory, trumping regular-sized versions by nearly double. Yeasted raised donuts and maple old fashioneds are the top sellers, with their extra-thick coating of glaze. Open 24-7.

6. Christy's Donuts

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3710 Voltaire St
San Diego, CA
(619) 224-0502

Christy's donuts are commendable, but they really take the treat to another level with their donut ice cream sandwiches. The ice cream-filled chocolate bar is the best medicine $3 and change can buy, with the soft innards of the donut soaking up the creamy run-off from two scoops of ice cream. This one might be worthy of last meal status.

7. Donut Bar

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631 B St
San Diego, CA 92101
(310) 625-5571

Since powering up its fryers back in March, Downtown’s only donut shop—a “craft” one at that—has gotten loads of attention from national and local press for its gleaming goodies. Top sellers include blueberry-Meyer Lemon, red velvet and chocolate espresso donuts. Perhaps the secret to Donut Bar’s success is its Vermont maple syrup glaze.

8. Donut Star

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601 W Washington St
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 542-1809

With an always-fresh selection, Donut Star is a go-to among city dwellers who appreciate the consistency and reliability of this 24-hour shop. It's always clean, well-stocked and a dozen donuts here will only set you back around nine bucks; standouts include the raised cake donuts, French crullers and light-as-air cinnamon rolls.

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1. Mary's Donuts

9031 Mission Gorge Rd, Santee, CA 92071

This landmark donut shop is a blast from the past, with photo memorabilia of donut enthusiasts covering its walls and recipes unchanged by time. The blueberry cake donut reigns supreme; tender and crumbly, it bursts with blueberry-muffin flavor, encapsulated by a crusty glaze. Cake raised crumb donuts and apple fritters are other sure winners. Open 24-7.

9031 Mission Gorge Rd
Santee, CA 92071

2. V.G. Donut & Bakery

106 Aberdeen Dr, Cardiff by the Sea, CA 92007

This seaside donut shop goes off on the weekends so be prepared to wait in line for the best-selling, yeasty glazed donuts that, when pulled apart, have a stretchy-sticky thing going on that makes you want to eat ten. Crackly-crusted blueberry-buttermilk bars are worth waiting for too.

106 Aberdeen Dr
Cardiff by the Sea, CA 92007

3. Rose Donuts

5201 Linda Vista Rd, San Diego, CA 92110

The blueberry-apple fritter wins for most valuable donut here. It’s less doughy than your typical rendition, with more carmelization, crunch and just the right interspersing of moist apple and blueberry chunks. One fist-sized confection will propel you to the moon. Cash only, open 24-7. Wash it all down with a killer milkshake.

5201 Linda Vista Rd
San Diego, CA 92110

4. Stardust Donut Shop

698 Highway 75, Imperial Beach, CA 91932

This venerable Imperial Beach stand has been at it since 1967, and Cliff Arnold, owner and operator, is the last standing family member in three generations of local donut makers. Musts here are Arnold’s rich old fashioned donuts and infamous cinnamon rolls. Hours are unpredictable (Arnold is old, give him a break!), so calling ahead is recommended.

698 Highway 75
Imperial Beach, CA 91932

5. Peterson's Donut Corner

903 S Escondido Blvd, Escondido, CA 92025

Since 1981, Peterson’s has charmed passers by and donut hunters with its walk-up service and quaint outdoor seating. The donuts stand remarkably tall at this Escondido fry factory, trumping regular-sized versions by nearly double. Yeasted raised donuts and maple old fashioneds are the top sellers, with their extra-thick coating of glaze. Open 24-7.

903 S Escondido Blvd
Escondido, CA 92025

6. Christy's Donuts

3710 Voltaire St, San Diego, CA

Christy's donuts are commendable, but they really take the treat to another level with their donut ice cream sandwiches. The ice cream-filled chocolate bar is the best medicine $3 and change can buy, with the soft innards of the donut soaking up the creamy run-off from two scoops of ice cream. This one might be worthy of last meal status.

3710 Voltaire St
San Diego, CA

7. Donut Bar

631 B St, San Diego, CA 92101

Since powering up its fryers back in March, Downtown’s only donut shop—a “craft” one at that—has gotten loads of attention from national and local press for its gleaming goodies. Top sellers include blueberry-Meyer Lemon, red velvet and chocolate espresso donuts. Perhaps the secret to Donut Bar’s success is its Vermont maple syrup glaze.

631 B St
San Diego, CA 92101

8. Donut Star

601 W Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103

With an always-fresh selection, Donut Star is a go-to among city dwellers who appreciate the consistency and reliability of this 24-hour shop. It's always clean, well-stocked and a dozen donuts here will only set you back around nine bucks; standouts include the raised cake donuts, French crullers and light-as-air cinnamon rolls.

601 W Washington St
San Diego, CA 92103

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