I owe it to my followers (all six of them) to scope out the local doughnut scene wherever I travel, be it the coffee shop around the block or a supermarket across the country. For stop number two on my California donut adventures, I zeroed in on the Sidecar Doughnuts flagship store in Costa Mesa. They have another location in Santa Monica, but then I would’ve had to get on the 5, take it all the way up to the 105, hop on the 405 for a hot sec before crossing over to the 10 and getting off at 5th street, and as much as I love a fresh doughnut on the beach, sitting in LA traffic is worse than waking up in a tub of ice in Vegas with both of your kidneys gone.
I first heard of Sidecar Doughnuts through social media because I follow more doughnut accounts than people on Instagram. They are fairly new to the scene, firing up their fryers for the first time in 2012, but they’re already raved about across the country. Even Ohio knows about Sidecar.
Costa Mesa isn’t far, as I was staying with my boyfriend’s family in Irvine, but all of their cars are stick shift so I’m completely reliant on other people to drive me around when I’m there. Thankfully Connor’s older brother, Shawn, inherited the bread-loving Italian genes of the family and was down to do some soul food searching with me.
Serving up dapper doughnuts in an old timey store, Sidecar has a hip, swanky ambiance. Their outdoor eating area was sunny and warm, despite it being the day after Christmas. My Northeastern body was physically rejecting the whole “70 degree Christmas” thing the entire trip, wanting to carb up and hibernate at every meal even though I was outside in a t-shirt and jeans.
One more reason why I fell in love with this place: they donate a portion of their earnings to a different charity or non-profit every month! December’s Sidecares partner was UNICEF USA, with a portion of all proceeds from that month’s gingerbread doughnut going directly to UNICEF and the children they protect. I was more than happy to help Sidecar in their effort to save the world… one doughnut at a time!
Sidecar Doughnuts serves their doughnuts in super cute, long boxes (you should see the length of the dozen box), which is genius because how often have you used a wide, flat box and had everything get smushed together? As someone who’s been told their driving is an ab workout to stay upright on turns, I struggle with jumbled donuts en transport quite often.
As I unboxed these tasty creatures, all I could think was, “Golly gee, paid time off is a beautiful thing. Almost as beautiful as this box of doughnuts, but not quite.”
Then I gave each and every one of them the photo shoot they deserved. I think my picture spree in this potted corner was confusing a nearby couple, but hey, eat your doughnuts and enjoy the show.
Inspired by Ariana Grande to leave no donut unlicked, I walked out of Sidecar with five different flavors: chocolate peppermint, eggnog, huckleberry, saigon cinnamon crumb, and a Madagascar vanilla yeast doughnut.
First, I scarfed down the chocolate peppermint doughnut topped with fudgy chocolate peppermint icing and additional candy cane pieces. Then, I ravenously tore into the fan-favorite huckleberry doughnut, made with berries baked into the cake and mixed into the icing. The eggnog was my next victim. I’ve realized I like eggnog as a drink, but not as a flavor. Nonethless, I devoured the whole thing. My sights then settled on the vanilla glaze doughnut, very similar to a glazed Krispy Kreme, but with an artisanal upgrade. Coming down from my blackout carb frenzy, breathless and sweaty, I looked up and saw Shawn was happily enjoying the cinnamon crumb. He tossed me the last bite and I ate it in one gulp, like the savage I am.
Or at least I wish I could have unleashed my hunger like that. In reality, I ate them with poise and delicacy, pinky out while perfecting the bite marks. They were delicious though, quite possibly my new number one spot. And I don’t normally like cake doughnuts!
Somehow, someway, despite all logic and reason, Sidecar doughnuts are at once fluffy and dense, achieving true pastry perfection. Maybe there’s something to their “from the earth” approach, and their doughnuts being made fresh every hour, unlike some donut shops that make them at 4 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. when the last stale donut is sold to a poor food blogging shmuck like me.
Per the coffee, Shawn said it was good, and this guy knows his iced coffee, but I tried it and thought it was sour… It made for a cute picture though and that’s win in my book!
There you have it! No need to race to Sidecar by noon before all the good flavors sell out, their doughnuts are constantly being replenished and I promise they’re as yummy as my hands make them look.
Flavor: 10/10 – And I’m not being paid to say that. This place was up there with the best I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot of doughnuts.
Bang For Buck: 8/10 – Typical artisanal prices of $3-4 depending on the flavor. The coffee was $4 which always bothers me because I can make one at home for 45 cents but it was made with a smile so I guess those are expensive these days.
Aesthetics: 8.7/10 – Am I being harsh? The inside was cutely themed, but small and quickly crowded. I had a great photoshoot with the plants outside, but it’s Southern California where most of the outdoors is Instagram gold.
You will be seeing me here again, mark my words!