Vegetarians Taste Better

Pebbles Donuts

It has come to this. I finally had a vegan donut. No milk and no eggs are listed in the ingredients. But no taste? That’s a question that could almost be mind over matter. If you knowingly had a donut that didn’t contain those tasty ingredients, would you dislike it on that premise alone even before tasting it? That’s the part I’m having a problem with. Read on.

So this weekend was spent in beautiful San Francisco, home to legendary food. I’ve heard that if you were to visit a different restaurant every day, you could do so indefinitely (new eateries popping up, others closing down, etc.). The weather was perfect for lots of great eating combined with research — most of which are for a project I’ve taken up — but more on that at a later time.

Pebbles at the Ferry Building

One place of note I saw this weekend was Pebbles Donuts, located right across from Sur La Table at the historic Ferry Building. It’s a small, unassuming place– if you could call it one. It’s really just a table with a variety of donuts on display. Not one to pass up a donut, I looked and noticed they were organic vegan donuts. But I didn’t leave. I was intrigued.

First of all, you notice the price at approximately $2.50-$3 a donut. Yikes. But it was the flavors that drew me in: matcha green tea, mango chili, meyer lemon– combinations I’ve never seen before. As if on a dare, I bought one hoping to fulfill all assumptions that vegan donuts are a blight in the pastry world. Fortunately I was wrong. Or so I think.

Salted caramel donut

The salted caramel– their most popular flavor– was delicate and light. Much like the other cake donuts I’m familiar with, it was a bit on the crumbly side. The visible salt crystals on top added a bit of crunch as well as salty tang– a nice foil to its mild sweetness. It’s a hefty donut too, especially nice when considering their exorbitant prices. The other specialty donuts all seemed to be baked cake donuts, but they also had traditional glazed donuts.

My only regret was walking away without trying out the other flavors and deciding whether these donuts were good or bad. Or maybe I just wanted to eat another donut.

Pebbles Donuts has two locations: San Francisco at the Ferry Building and their original location in Oakland.

14 thoughts on “Vegetarians Taste Better

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  1. Well, fancy cupcakes are about $2.50-3.00, so I guess a fancy donut could command a similar price. Were they near Blue Bottle coffee? Because I think a cake donut should always be eaten with coffee.

    If you didn’t know it was vegan, do you think you could tell it didn’t have eggs or milk in it?

    1. That’s a good point about the price point for cupcakes. And they were a good sized donut made with only organic ingredients. As cake donuts go, there were pretty good but I wanted to automatically hate them. I’m confused as to how I should feel about these.

  2. Hmm, it looks good… and it looks like a proper donut. Or make they are just tricking you and it’s really a cake with the middle missing! The only vegan dessert I’ve had are probably these weird vegan cookies that tasted too healthy to be dessert.

    1. Yeah, I wondered about the missing hole in the middle. My donut did have a middle although it was very small. Other donuts didn’t have it at all. I don’t know if it the dough or what.

  3. I’m with you. Even if the donut was the best I ever had, I would subconsciously think that they tasted awful because it was vegan.

  4. I stopped being surprised at how good vegan food tasted when I was a vegetarian — once you get past the “all things vegan must taste like cardboard” (or covered in cheese) mentality, it becomes easier to accept. It probably helped that I was exposed to foods that were “secretly” vegan, like some Filipino desserts (think suman or puto), and awesome vegan cookbooks (even though I’m an omnivore again, I still like to cook from The Post Punk Kitchen).

    Then again, how you’re feeling now is pretty close to what I felt like when I started eating meat again. I couldn’t believe how good it tasted even after years of abstaining! Even the “icky” meats, like chorizo sausage, dinuguan, Mexican menudo and kare-kare, were good and reminded me of my childhood.

    1. HA! That’s so true about covering things in cheese! You’re right about the “secretly vegan” items now that I think about it. I guess vegan food has come a long way in taste that I just need to move my thinking in that direction.

      I’ll check out The Post Punk Kitchen. Sounds like a great read.

  5. hi darlene – welcome back!

    when i hear the word vegan, i think of really gross rabbit food, but then again, it’s just my closemindedness talking. i’d have to try it first before totally slamming it. it’s not something i would gravitate towards. those donut flavors sounded pretty intriguing though! one of these days, i’ll try a vegan something! i like meat too much to give it up.

    1. Maybe a blind taste test of thing mixed up with regular and vegan items is in order. I think this would only apply to desserts because with main dishes, it would be too obvious.

  6. I’m game! I’ll be your guinea pig for a blind taste test. DONUTS! YUM.
    But the thing is, where else are you going to find a salted caramel or a macha green tea donut to compare it to? Sometimes I think people should stop naming vegan food after non-vegan food because it sets our expectations automatically. If it wasn’t called a donut, you might have liked it. Same with tofurkey. Why not call it Thanksgiving Protein Lump instead? Or something prettier.

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