What do you get when you pair a coffee-obsessed artist and clothing designer, photographer, and humane soul-loving chef? You get the World’s Freshest Doughnut. Every single time.
Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee has transformed the idea of doughnut making with the use of the finest ingredients (that means no preservatives). The creative trio, composed of Sumter and Chi-Lin Pendergrast and head-chef Brooke Des Prez, have created doughnuts that look and taste just as good as their delectable “food porn” Instagram photos.
Located in a small Costa Mesa strip mall on 17th Street, this Orange County gem has been charming locals since 2012. Their fresh made-from-scratch doughnuts are fried in small batches by the hour, ensuring their freshness is quality you can taste. Also, with a rotating menu that changes monthly, Sidecar keeps an eye out for seasonal ingredients, allowing Des Prez to cater to her insatiable creativity with new doughnut flavors and treats offered up every month.
When you arrive on location to Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee, you immediately know you’ve entered a doughnut mecca. It’s a humble shop with a small storefront, and its open-glass windows, charming outdoor seating and customers bustling in and out all hours of the day let you know you’re in for a treat.
Trays and trays of their mouth-watering doughnuts are constantly being put out behind their open-window displays. Your eyes are free to glaze over each of their beautifully decorated doughnuts as their bakers are constantly rolling dough and decorating each doughnut with love in the back. These doughnuts are meant to be eaten right away, or at least in a few hours, and are light and non-greasy (meaning you do not have to feel guilty if you find yourself gobbling up two or three in one sitting–at least, I hope not).
The store’s surprisingly modest interior is beautifully decorated. With dark-brown walls boasting of their Portland-inspired vibe, the business offers pairings with the infamous Stumptown Coffee Roasters, a Portland, Oregon roaster that “coffee fixated” owner Sumter Pendergast has been thrilled about. Their selection of coffees, from a Vietnamese Iced Coffee, Black Onyx Mocha, and house-blended “Forty Winks” and “Colt’s Tooth,” serve as the perfectly brewed complement to their doughnuts.
Now, on to the real deal. Their signature Huckleberry, with real red berries embedded throughout the cake and glaze, tastes truly fruity and light as ever; their Butter & Salt is a light vanilla bean cake with a brown butter glaze that subtly brings out the doughnut’s inherent sweetness through the salt; and, their seasonal specialties such as the Hawaiian-inspired Malasada, covered in sugar and filled with a light coconut cream is lovely. My favorites include their seasonal Guava doughnut, which is perfectly sweet and tart, offering a heavenly (and genuinely guava) experience, as well as their raised Lemon Meringue Pie, which is beautifully concocted with a lemon glaze, house-made lemon curd and meringue tower with a crumbled pie crust on top.
No matter what doughnuts you decide to get, however, it is highly unlikely you are to purchase one that disappoints. Although they are a bit on the higher end (from $2.25-$3.75 a piece), Sidecar’s handcrafted doughnuts are fresh, guilt-free and truly one-of-a-kind. Head-chef Des Prez is obsessed with fresh fruits and herbs and always tries to incorporate ingredients that give some love back to local and organic producers–and we can surely taste the difference when we put each doughnut into our mouth.
Try ordering a box full of all the doughnuts you find appealing and share bites with a group of friends (as is common to many visitors). And, don’t forget to snap a photo and post it to Instagram, as this business so highly encourages it (and has to thank for their devoted following).
With a new storefront opening up in Santa Monica later this spring, the Orange County gem is expanding beyond its once little public pop-up sampling truck, which was housed in a red 1959 International Harvester Metro Van before they opened up their first Costa Mesa location. Sidecar is one you need to look out for.
This business wholly deserves my 4.5/5-stars, simply because it is everything I would ask for from a local doughnut/coffee-shop–guilt-free, delicious and good for the community, just not always to my wallet.