In the last few decades, donuts have gone beyond being a breakfast food for cops. Instead, I can confidently say that donuts have become a full blown religion. Franchised chains such as Dunkin’ Donuts, Krispy Kremes and Mr. Donuts(in Asia) have made donuts readily accessible to the masses all around the world. In fact, the donut momentum doesn’t seem to be dying down as evidenced by this recent Krispy Kreme opening in Taipei where people were waiting up to 4 hours to buy a dozen of these buttery sweets. Yes. Donuts are a way a life, regardless of where you are.
The San Francisco Bay Area, a region full of world class cuisine and an unmatched collection of haute couture foods, is rather disappointing when it comes to world class donut shops. Sure, you drive around the corner and there are plenty of cookie cutter shops that litter the landscape, serving nothing but the staple types, glazed, powdered etc. etc.
Foodamentals was pleasantly surprised to discover Psycho Donuts, a local donut shop with deep roots in the South Bay that has been churning out ridiculously cool donuts for years.
With two locations, one in downtown San Jose and the other(much larger location) in Campbell, Psycho Donuts is like a grownup version of a donut shop, which just means its super awesome. We headed over to the San Jose location and even had a chance to sit down and pick the brains of their general manager, Ashley Searby, who gave us the inside scoop as to what makes these donuts so friggin badass.
Psycho Donuts was born from a desire to really push the envelope of what the public thinks you can or cannot do with a donut. This formula must be working because there are always a ton of repeat customers. In fact, the notion of a customer may be a misnomer, since Psycho Donuts treats their customers not as patrons, but rather, they refer to them as “fans.” One look at Psycho Donut’s Facebook page and you’ll see that those fans are absolute fanatics when it comes to donuts.
The downtown San Jose shop is situated in an old movie theater and at a glance, the decor, ambience and theme of the theatre are deeply woven into the spirit of Psycho Donuts. Looking at the decor, there is a sense of controlled chaos as movie posters adorn the wall, bright neon furniture are spread out across the floor and a 1950’s psychiatric room nurse takes my donut order. Though somewhat random, it works surprisingly well. I can’t think think of a more fitting setup that highlights the “off the beaten path” image that Psycho Donuts is looking to cultivate.
A donut connoseuir would say.. the current selection of donuts here is off the heezy! AND that is not counting limited edition donuts that are created for different events and holidays. Special edition donuts include Pokemon cake pops for Fanimecon, donut takoyaki injected with boba balls and the “little Lou,” a savory pulled pork donut. Having been to almost all 50 states in the US, I have never seen a wider or more varied selection in all the land.
Often times, the limited edition donuts are sold out instantaneously. In fact, the limited edition donuts have become so insanely popular that pre-orders can be made in advance of the launch date. I mean, these guys are so accommodating that you can actually pre-order a single donut. Just make sure you get your butt there in time or else the Foodamentals staff is going to hawk it before you get there.
The inventiveness and the creativity comes from the fact that Psycho Donuts isn’t bound by the public definition of what constitutes a “donut.” At its core, a donut is fried flour, eggs and butter. While simple, it lends itself to a bevy of possibilities, not just the glazed, maple, chocolate donuts that you find at your local Safeway. Instead, Ashley and the Psycho Donuts staff thinks of a donut as the base for a potential sandwich. By doing so, it now opens up a much larger pool of possibilities that can include both sweet and savory concoctions.
Hence, that forms the foundation to the many unique flavors you can find at Psycho Donuts, many flavors which other shops won’t even dare attempt. With that being said, here are a coupe of examples that we were lucky enough to sample.
Taking that into consideration, you begin to understand the inspiration behind the Spam Ellington, which takes donut conventionalism and chucks it out the window. The Spam Ellington is a pastry filled with pieces of spam, fresh mushroom, garlic and onions, and of course, pieces of bacon. Because seriously, everything is better with bacon in it. The taste is a soft, pillow-y sandwich with a breading and consistency that reminds me of sweet Hawaiian bread. When paired with the savory bacon and spam, its like a party in my mouth and everyone is invited.
A bar shaped donut that’s really, out-of-this-world. If you love peanut butter, butterfingers and maple, then this, then this donut is for you. Although there are three different types of sweets in this donut, it is not overpowering that you’ll need to reach for a glass of milk. The crunchiness of the pretzel top contrasts beautifully with the softness of the dough. Thereby making it an absolute delight with each bite.
By far our most favorite donut of the bunch. It’s simple, but these hush puppies pack a mildly sweet wallop. While at first glance these look like a bunch of donut holes. You are wrong, more wrong than a Tony Romo pass. These “hush puppies” are filled with custard cream and sprinkled with powder sugar to give it a two pronged assault on your taste buds.
Look, if you are in the Bay Area, you really have no excuse for not checking out Psycho Donuts at least once. If you are a fanatic like us, then you’ll have to continue to go back and experience their limited edition donuts. Donuts are fresh, unique and fills you up with this warm and fuzzy feeling inside. So really, why are you still reading this.
Enjoy some gratuitous donut porn below.
288 S. 2nd Street, San Jose, CA 95113
2006 S. Winchester Blvd, Campbell, CA 95008