I don’t know why I’ve been obsessed with donuts lately. Maybe because I find myself at work lingering on food boards that discuss regional donut shops. Maybe it’s because I avoid the Thursday donuts at work at all costs because it looks like the selection has been ravaged by a pack of angry wolves. But I woke up Saturday morning to satisfy my fix, distance be damned. And that location was 24 miles away in Imperial Beach.
I grew up near Imperial Beach. I learned to swim at the pool in Mar Vista High School and after band practice in high school, we would often hit the Rally’s where my friends worked. I haven’t been to Imperial Beach in a while since my parents moved away and frankly the neighborhood has gone downhill since. But one thing drew me back for this visit, it was Stardust Donut Shop.
Stardust Donut Shop is located on state Route 75 right before you hop on the strand headed for Coronado. It’s almost too easy to miss with its old sign, rusty from years of salty air. I found out about Stardust Donut Shop not from my experience as going there but from Yelp while searching for donuts in San Diego County.
According to posters on Yelp, the owners of the Stardust Donut Shop open whenever they want and close when they sell out. O-kay. These guys obviously don’t wake up at the crack of dawn with fresh, hot donuts for the early morning crowd. I left for Imperial Beach around 9 a.m. wholeheartedly sure that they were open early for Saturday. But despite the small line forming they were still closed. Parked behind the shop, I called them and asked their hours.
“10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today” said the voice on the other end of the line. Not too bad, just 15 more minutes until I can get a warm donut in my mitts.
I got out of my car and queued up in line, joining salty hippies and locals by the time they opened almost 30 minutes later. Or an hour since I arrived. But I used that time to study the empty bins. There were only nine varieties available, ranging from old fashioneds, buttermilk twists and chocolate raised for 84 cents to $1.39 for their glazed pecan roll with caramel. By the time the window finally opened, I knew exactly what I wanted.
Even though I was the fourth person in line by the time I hit the window, the first pan of cinnamon rolls was gone. The donut guy had to get me two rolls from the second batch.
Stardust’s cinnamon rolls don’t look like much. They are actually quite modest in size with no visible icing on top. I was skeptical but one bite took all doubt away. The icing is in the roll! Each bite had icing in it. The cinnamon roll itself was wispy and light which almost seemed to melt once it hit your tongue. Not too doughy at all. The secret? They deep fry it. Yeah, crazy but it works. I should have stopped at the cinnamon rolls because everything else paled in comparison.
Or course, I had to try a small selection of other things Stardust had to offer. You know, for research. I had to see how the other donuts fared. The chocolate-raised, old fashioned, buttermilk twist, chocolate iced and raspberry-filled were passable. The glazed came in a close second after the cinnamon rolls. Somehow, the tasting selection of donuts seemed to disappear by 4 p.m.
I don’t know about driving out to Imperial Beach again to line up for fresh cinnamon rolls, but it did remind me that there are still a lot of good things left in the area.
Read more about the owners of Stardust Donut Shop here.