Dynamo Donuts Are Dyno-mite

A donut is a donut, right?

Not in the hands of San Francisco’s wickedly good Dynamo Donuts, a short drive from the Holiday Inn Civic Center.

You’ve seen the lines. You’ve heard the swoons.

Let me tell you, it’s all justified for these gourmet donuts that come in such unusual flavors as Chocolate Rosemary Almond, Lemon Sichuan, Banana De Leche, and the much-ballyhooed Maple Glazed Bacon Apple.

First off, these are not teeth-gratingly sweet like so many other donuts. I know that’s hard to believe, given that they all come with a hefty dose of glaze or shower of sugar on top. But the flavors are actually balanced and quite intense at times. For instance, bite into the Candied Orange Blossom, and your mouth will come alive with an explosion of citrus flavor that’s so audacious, you can’t help but let out a yelp. The orange flavor gets revved up from candied orange zest inside the donut, as well as orange blossom glaze smeared over the top.

Second of all, the texture of these donuts is remarkable. It’s not just a round of airy pastry. Rather, a Dynamo donut has height, along with an almost brioche-like quality that makes for a quite rich and tender crumb.

That these donuts are so spectacular comes as no surprise when you realize that they’re the brainchild of Sara Spearin, a pastry chef who honed her craft at Postrio, Hawthorne Lane, Stars and Foreign Cinema, all San Francisco landmarks.

There are about 16 different donuts, selling for $2 to $3.50 a piece, depending on the type. About seven are offered daily with the bacon one available every day by popular demand.

Good thing, too, or there surely would be riots over this super puffy donut that has apples  in the batter, which have been sauteed in bacon fat, as well as a maple glaze that’s studded with crisp bacon bits. It’s salty and sweet. And if you try one, you’ll want another one immediately.

The classic Vanilla Bean donut has a subtle infusion of orange zest. It’s like wedding cake in donut form.

The Chocolate Saffron tastes of the expensive spice with its warm earthiness that complements the deep, dark chocolate glaze.

I’m not the world’s biggest coconut fan, so it’s saying something when Dynamo’s Coconut donut totally won me over. It’s dunked in coconut milk glaze, then covered in big shards of toasted coconut. The latter’s what got me going, with its delightful crunchy, island flavor.

In this day and age, we almost feel criminal when we indulge in caloric donuts. But take it from me, when it comes to Dynamo Donuts, you’ll feel even more guilty if you don’t.

More: The Low-Down on Bouchon Bakery Donuts

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  • Mmmhhh, they look so scrumptious and fluffy! A real delight!



  • What a treat! I think I would go for the vanilla bean with orange zest myself, maybe dunk it in a hot cup of coffee. Delish!

  • Miam Miam the pictures seems to be great, they are so sweet !

  • these look AMAZING… we have good donuts in NYC but these flavor combinations are so unique. i am going to try to invigorate my own donut recipe with some of these ideas next time i make them!

  • I don’t like donuts, but even I had to admit when I tried Dynamo Donuts that they are something special. So original–and so beautiful!

  • Glad you finally made it over to try Dynamo. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the maple-bacon donut isn’t as gross as it sounds, but actually works in an odd way. Did you head over to Humphry Slocombe for ice cream afterwards?

  • Oh, I love donuts! They ALL look incredibly indulgent and the flavor combinations are inspiring!

  • I just tried these this past Sunday! I had donuts here and then ice cream at Humphry Slocombe. I loved the donuts here. The donut texture is amazing. They were doing a 2 for 1 and I was so tempted to buy more…

  • Kirbie: OMG! I missed a two-for-one deal at Dynamo?!? Although, that could be VERY dangerous, indeed. Hah.

  • did someone on here say they didn’t like donuts? how is that possible? genetics? bad experience?
    i only wish we had places like this around here. we have nasty dunkin donuts.
    these donut pics should be framed woman.

  • I guess everything in SF is a short drive from 8th and Market ;-)… It might be more helpful to mention that it’s located on the end of a little shopping district on 24th in the Mission, not far from Protrero. Spend the morning wandering the area looking for day of the dead figurines or your new favorite south-of-the-border pop music.

  • (Cue recorded version of song “Evil Woman”)

    ((Or is that “Devil Woman?))

    (((Either way, crank it up real loud)))

    Sorry, Carolyn…I just can’t seem to hear what you are saying in this post!

    Thank goodness I don’t live closer to SF, or those donuts themselves would be shouting to me over the wailing of my defeated conscience.

  • Everytime I go there they never have the Maple Bacon. I LOOOOVE the Orange Blossom though. They’re worth every calorie!

  • What a coincidence – I just went today to satisfy a donut craving. I will definitely have to make it out to Dynamo’s too. Suddenly my plain maple bar from Donut Delite (although still delicious) just doesn’t seem to cut it!

  • Another to-do list for me. I am not a big fan of glazed donuts as sugar-dusted donuts were more “childhood” to me. Then as I grew up, I lost touch of donuts altogether. Usually, I will not have trouble choosing my donut flavor cos I know I will pick sugar-dusted ones anytime over glazed. But since you said it is not overly sweet…hhmmm….I might fall into the trap this time. Ok…let me try the bacon one.

  • Oooh, I’ve always wanted to try Dynamo! I heard they have a cornmeal one that sounds scrumptious. Did you happen to notice if they sell any minis or donut holes??

  • 2.50-3 bucks for a donut? Nope. I’ll stick with Bob’s on Polk thank you very much.

  • Heather I: Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any donut holes or mini donuts at Dynamo. However, at the Meals on Wheels benefit in SF recently, Dynamo was there with smaller donuts. So maybe they only do them for special events.

  • Holy macaron Carolyn! :O A Maple Glazed Bacon Apple donut? I’m dying to try one of those. And interesting that it’s not too sweet too!

  • coconut donuts have a special place in my heart. also, you’re my champion for the day. why? you used the word ‘ballyhooed.’ 🙂

  • woah..bacon?! Would love to try one!

  • I need to tell my old roommate about this place. She lives in SF and if I can’t have them since I live 3,000 miles away…at least I can live vicariously through her. I love the sound of those maple apple bacon donuts!

  • Fascinating photos. The close-ups add so much impact to your site. Do you take your own pictures?

  • Karl: Yup, I take most of the photos on the site. If you put your cursor over a photo, a caption will appear. If it doesn’t say, “Photo courtesy of….,” then it means I took the photo, myself. 😉

  • Oh my gosh! I wouldn’t even know where to begin! But I might start with the Chocolate Rosemary Almond donut. Yum!

  • hahah I wonder if the dessert did explode? 🙂

  • My son lives right down the street so we eat there all too often. They usually give us an extra donut when we order a few and the coffee is delicious.

  • Drooling over these gourmet donut photos. Unfortunately for me there’s only Dunkin Donuts close by! Happy Donut Day 🙂

  • Moe: I dare you to stop at just one. In fact, I double-dare you. 😉

  • OK, these look crazy good, and I am making a special trip just to get them. I’ve already found their on line menu – its just a matter of time….

  • In the words of Homer Simpson, “mmmm… donughts!” Donuts are my kryptonite. I can not resist.
    Hope you have a great weekend ahead.
    *kisses* HH

  • Wow….huge donuts!! I’ve not heard and seen here in UK. Gosh…if my daughter sees these, she’ll pack her bag and fly there now 😀

  • Honestly?? The worst donuts ive ever had! I nearly puked. Soft undercooked and greasy, had to cue too long and not much variety and 10 dollars for 3!! Quite disgusting!
    If you want great donuts in San Francisco head to Clement on Inner Richmond where you will find honest great Asian donut shops where you can get 4 yes 4(!) for 3 dollars! And trust me they are 5 times as good as this trendy hipster crap!

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