Johnny Doughnuts - Hayes Valley, SF

When you visit a donut shop for the very first time, you can't help but want to try everything, so that's exactly what I did, thanks to the good folks over at Johnny Doughnuts. What started as a food truck, grew into a storefront in San Rafael, and now with a beautiful space right here in Hayes Valley, Johnny Doughnuts is a local city gem dominating the donut game. Its newest spot sits between Fulton and Gough. A bright and inviting space, walk in and your eyes go directly to the variety of donuts stacked on rustic boards and perfectly presented on cake stands. 

With a recipe setting itself apart from other donut spots, Johnny Doughnuts isn’t your average mom and pop corner shop. Handmade from a Southern 1920s recipe using fresh potatoes and organic flour, these doughnuts pack a punch and are a helluva lot more satisfying. The potato is what gives the doughnut its dense texture, so it's chewier and you get a lot more bite.

I tasted an assortment of flavors from classic glaze to lime poppyseed. The homemade glazes weren't too sweet, not too rich either. It's exactly what you want to satisfy a sugar craving. My absolute favorite was the lime poppyseed. There's a slight tang in the lime glaze, but it wasn't too overpowering at all, and though you see a lot of the poppyseed, you just taste a hint of that, too. The two ingredients surprisingly compliment each other. It was so delicious.

Whether you lean towards traditional favorites or have more adventurous taste buds, there's something here for everyone. I caught up with Sarah at Johnny Doughnuts to get the inside scoop to what Johnny Doughnuts is all about. Check it out ahead. :)


 

How did you come across this doughnut recipe from the 1920s? The Owner, Craig Blum, researched doughnut recipes for two years with his lead pastry chef. They stumbled across it together. 

What was it about the doughnut that made you want to turn it into business? The whole idea of Johnny Doughnuts was to create a space where people can come together and form community, a product that is delicious, nostalgic, and something that isn't being done anywhere else. We wanted to create a product for treat seekers and the food trucks allow us to cater to different communities throughout the Bay Area! Spreading the love! 

For someone visiting Johnny Doughnuts for the very first time, what flavor would you recommend? Oh my gosh! Hardest question to answer. We always want to understand what that individual customer prefers, then we develop the conversation from there. We want to individually guide the customer through our variety to pick the utmost choice for their liking. I always urge them to try two different ones to see the difference in doughs! 

What was the inspiration behind some of your more unique flavors like the lime poppyseed and caramel apple fritter? The inspiration flares from the seasons, however those two particular choices stayed for the years duration due to the popularity! I think the freshness of adding lime juice and zest into the sweet dough perfected the tart and sweet combination! For the apple fritter, it was the idea of sticking with something tradition and adding a pop of something modern and different-carmelizing the apples in a house made Carmel! 

How do you stay relevant in a city that's constantly evolving when it comes to food? We stick to what we know. We do doughnuts and we do them well. We are trying to amp up our seasonal flavors more so! We are different than all the other doughnut shops that have been around for ever. We are changing the entire thought behind a doughnut. With all of our ingredients being fresh and from scratch, we standout from 80% of all other doughnut shops.   

Use one word to describe Johnny Doughnuts. A few different one worders: homemade, handcrafted, special.

Johnny Doughnuts brings a new twist to a fun treat we know, love, and find comfort in. Have your doughnut of choice with a hot cup of its Equator coffee for the ideal pairing. 

 

The Riddler - A Champagne Bar

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Photography by Kassie Borreson

Are you drooling, yet? In a time where social media has heightened our visual awareness, a damn good food pic has the ability to make our mouths water. While an image may get you in the door, to make it in the food biz these days, you need 3 things; an inspiring story, an Insta-worthy space, and a stellar menu that also lives up in taste. Meeting that trifecta is The Riddler. It’s the chicest spot in Hayes Valley right now, and maybe all of town. A champagne bar backed by smart and talented women, it houses over 100 selections of bubbly. Pair a glass with a few of its unique bites and you’re sure to satisfy those taste buds. Favorites on the menu include the tator tot waffle, popcorn, and charcuterie plate.

Ladies, this isn’t your average bar. There’s a feminine twist to it. The fancy interior is laced with golf leaf, you'll find a marble bar, and just when you think it may be too swanky, the foliage of vines breaks up all seriousness and sets the tone for a warm and inviting ambiance. It really is the dreamiest of spaces.

If the Instagram-worthy tables don’t impress you, the food and drink will. If I haven't already convinced you this is a spot to try, maybe Chef Zoe Deeg of The Riddler can. I recently got the chance to do a Q&A with her. Read ahead to get the inside scoop!


Everyone is raving about the tater tot waffle on Instagram. It's a fun and fancy dish! What was your inspiration behind it? 

The inspiration behind the tater tot waffle comes from wanting to provide a fun and playful atmosphere for our guests coupled with the luxuries of refined foods you'd want to eat with Champagne! Classy, but cool! 


For someone who is visiting The Riddler for the first time, what Champagne and food pairing would you recommend?

The salmon, crème fraîche, and caviar tater tot waffle is a must-have! It's bright, fun, and fancy and it pairs well with all of the Champagnes and sparkling wines we have on the list. Anything from an effervescent, high-end bottle to one of our rosés by the glass. 


Speaking of pairings, popcorn and rosé wine? It's a thing now or has it always been? It's new to me and I'm intrigued. How do the unexpected flavors compliment each other?

Popcorn is a food for all occasions! The Riddler has 12 salts you can add to your popcorn and all of them pair well with Champagne and sparkling wine. The Scar Jo—named after Scarlett Johansson who happens to own a popcorn shop in Paris—has Parmesan, sage, and truffle so it's herbaceous, salty, and rich. If you're looking for something a little different, the turmeric and coconut is delicious and the Mexican corn is cheesy and spicy.


How is the menu constantly evolving? What can we expect next? 

We're always evolving and tweaking the current recipes. What I'm looking forward to is more seasonality in the dishes and we'll also have some new popcorn salts!


I also like to ask chefs what they typically eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Go!

I don't typically eat breakfast, but if I do, it's going to be a thick piece of toast with lots of butter and salt. I always have some English Breakfast or Earl Grey tea.

For lunch? Whatever looks good on Caviar! 

Ideally, if I'm out of the kitchen early enough, I go have dinner with my husband somewhere—he's the regional manager for Wise Sons Group. We live in the Mission and we like to enjoy our neighborhood and get cheap Chinese food, or a slice of pizza or some sushi from Basa—anything that's cost effective and lets us spend more time together. The last hot date we had was at Lolinda, which we both love because their spread is amazing. 

BRENDA'S MEAT and THREE - CREOLE - SAN FRANCISCO

NEIGHBORHOOD: NOPA

ON THE TABLE:  My fiance and I come here for dinner at least once a month. You get a good portion for what you pay and everything is super good. For my entree, I had the Meat and Three here. Choose 1 meat option and 3 sides. I ordered the baby back ribs with green beans, mac and cheese and a cream biscuit. For dessert, we had calas, these warm rice doughnuts served with molasses butter and fruit compote.

NOTEWORTHY: The strawberry jam paired with the cream biscuit is out of this world. Chunky strawberry bits fused with the perfect hint tartiness. So so good.

MR HOLMES BAKEHOUSE - SAN FRANCISCO

NEIGHBORHOOD: Tenderloin

ON THE TABLE: Vanilla donut

CULT FAVORITE: The cruffin, a croissant fused with a muffin served daily after 9am. There's a different flavor everyday. The long line you see outside the bakery is for the cruffin. Most days, you can skip the line and go right on in if you want anything else besides this.