Note: First Looks give previews of new dishes, drinks, and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots and interviews with restaurants, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
It finally happened. San Diego has its first (and only!) artisanal doughnut shop. Donut Bar opened strong, so strong that they sold out of their entire stock—1,000 doughnuts in flavors from birthday cake to dulce de leche—in less than an hour.
Head baker Nghi Tieu has a keen imagination and deft pastry skills. She trained at The French Pastry School in Chicago and has a background in high-end hotel kitchens, including making a Krispy Kreme copycat doughnut at the former Edition Waikiki. This is her first gig at a doughnut shop, and at Donut Bar she starts as early as 1 a.m., firing up a 20 quart mixer to begin churning out small batches of doughnuts, with a goal of producing 1,000 a day. When they're gone, the shop closes.
Doughnut flavors will change up daily, with some, like the chocolate euphoria, in more regular rotation. Co-owners Santiago Campa and Wendy Bartels say some of the flavors soon to come include limoncello, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, stuffed Nutella, and a pina colada doughnut for summer. Santiago has big plans for the rest of the shop, including creating a lounge upstairs, and a possible speak-easy in the basement. For now, it's a strictly to-go operation with approximately five to six flavors of doughnuts, along with fresh coffee for just "a buck a cup".
The shop opens at 7 am on weekdays. You'll get the best selection by going early—and if you see the creme brulee doughnuts, get at least two.