Thursday, October 02, 2008

Doughnuts for Adults at Dynamo

Doughnuts are really a childhood thing for me. More specifically, cinnamon powdered doughnuts or any jelly doughnut from Dunkin’ Donuts. I used to love getting them when shopping with my mom. But as an adult, I rarely crave them. Maybe because I’m not a coffee drinker, and apparently the two go hand-in-hand.

But when I heard there was a place in San Francisco’s Mission District selling gourmet doughnuts for adults, I had to check it out. It just seemed like the logical next step to the cupcake craze.

Dynamo Donut & Coffee opened this summer in the far reaches of the Mission District. (I’m talking several blocks from the 24th Street BART station.) Last Saturday, I got off the BART and hoofed it along 24th Street, passing several coffee shops and taquerias, until I hit the quaint little Dynamo hut, with a line already forming. (I was thinking of doing one of my how-much-time-in-the-line posts but I was in line only for about seven minutes, so that’s cool.)

There were two people working inside the hut. I don’t know if one of the ladies were Sara Spearin, the woman who created Dynamo. But both were pretty efficient as they went through everyone’s order in line. While Dynamo is known for its doughnuts, it seemed like most people were in line for coffee. Dynamo serves Stumptown Coffee and has a very shiny and big espresso machine.

There’s no indoor seating, although I’ve read that they’re renovating the space behind the hut to turn it into a cafĂ©, with a kitchen where they can bake the doughnuts on the premises. While I was in line, I did see some construction tarp up in the backroom and they looked far from finished. For now, seating is just this eclectic collection of chairs on the sidewalk.

Dynamo has a regular rotation of flavors but only four are served each day. So if you have a favorite, it might not be available on the day you visit. One of the doughnuts I’d heard about and thought would be interesting to try was the Maple Bacon Donut. Unfortunately, it wasn’t served on the day I was there.

Here are the doughnuts on display at the front window under glass. The four available on this day was Banana de Luce, Chocolate Star Anise, Vanilla, and Ginger-Orange. I ordered one of each, ‘natch.

Here’s a close-up of my box of doughnuts. They sell for $2.50 each, but with four I only paid $9 because I think there’s a “frequent flier”-type of thing going on. I decided to try two on the spot. Um, which one first? How about …

… the Ginger-Orange. Actually, I wasn’t sure what this was but was tempted by the glaze. Once I bit into it, I could sense the subtle sweetness of the orange with the slight ginger zing, so I knew this was the Ginger-Orange. The doughnut itself was very soft and not at all like a cake. It was definitely more airy and light. While I enjoyed it, I felt the glaze could have been more crystallized. Instead it seemed slightly gloopy.

Next I went for the filled doughnut, which was the Banana de Leche. The light and airy texture of the doughnut really reminded me of malasadas back home in Hawaii. (You island folks know what I’m talkin’ about.) But it was malasadas with a sweet filling, but not obviously sweet, which is good because I don’t have a sweet tooth. I could taste the chunks of fresh banana in the filling with the light caramel flavor. This was my favorite of all the doughnuts, and the sugar rush from the two I ate gave me the energy I needed as I headed off to a warehouse jeans sale in the city.

When I got home, I tried the other two doughnuts. The Chocolate Star Anise was slightly odd. It had the texture of chocolate and looked like a brownie, but didn’t taste chocolate-ly. It was almost like they used unsweetened chocolate on this day. And I really didn’t get a star anise flavor. The Vanilla Donut was just OK, nothing unusual or amazing.

Dynamo Donuts is an intriguing idea in a food city like San Francisco, but I feel it fails to reach its potential as demonstrated by the ones I tried. Except for the Banana de Leche, I don’t think I would go back for the others. For the price, I’d rather get a cupcake. Still, if you’re in the neighborhood, you might want to check it out. The lines seem to say that some people like these adult-inspired doughnuts with their coffee.

Dynamo Donuts & Coffee, 2760 24th Street (between Hampshire and York Streets), San Francisco. PH: 415.920.1978. Open Tues.–Sat., 7 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m.–4 p.m.


Veronica said...

When you said adult donuts, I was expecting liquor filled donuts.

The ginger-orange glaze sounds pretty good. I'm a sucker for ginger.

Chef Ben said...

Hmmm, good idea. Rum soaked doughnuts could be like a tiramisu. Now that's a donut I'd walk several blocks to eat! :)

foodhoe said...

my sweet tooth tends towards the makes your teeth hurt sweet, and generally am unsatisfied with sweets that have been tempered for adults... I probably will stick with good old dunkin donuts, especially at $2.50 apiece!

Carolyn Jung said...

Oh man, the successor to the cupcake craze! The banana de leche looks gooey good. You'll have to go back for the maple bacon and let us know if it's a winner.