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.
Tucked away in a strip mall in Costa Mesa, a trio of passionate owners and their crew of bakers are churning out fresh doughnuts, all made from start to finish by hand. Since opening in mid-April, Sidecar Doughnuts has attracted a loyal following. "The response has been beyond our expectations," says co-owner Chi-Lin Pendergrast. "We have had a line out the door every day. It has been an exciting journey!"
Chi-Lin, along with Sumpter Pendergrast and head baker Brooke Des Prez, wanted to make the best doughnuts possible, so the shop has a strict "from scratch only" approach: no mixes, no flavorings.
"Have you ever looked at the ingredient list on the back of a bag of commercial doughnut mix? It is three paragraphs long," says Chi-Lin, adding that making everything from scratch is the only way to control the process from beginning to end. They also like to use the best of everything, whether it's top-quality flour (King Arthur), butter (Plugrá) or real vanilla beans.
Standing in front of the display case, which is replenished throughout the day with fresh batches of doughnuts, you can see all the action in the kitchen. On one side, dough is mixed and cut. On another, shelves of doughnuts puff up and proof, awaiting the fryer. In the middle, the final product comes together. Peek in and you'll see doughnuts going for a dip in various glazes and being topped with everything from apricot jam to crunchy bits of bacon.
The menu changes weekly, with eight different varieties, including a vegan option on Thursday and a gluten-free doughnut on Friday. For the best selection, time your visit for before 2 p.m. The shop closes at 4 p.m. and by then, pickings can be slim.
Want to take a closer look inside the kitchen and the display case at Sidecar Doughnuts? Click through the slide-show at the top. >>
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