Los Angeles has plenty of fine donut shops, but there are few donuts shops as charming as Primo’s. It’s in its third generation of family ownership with all three generations currently active in the business. As the younger family members have started to influence operations, ground has broken on a new location in hip Venice; Stumptown Coffee has replaced the generic styrofoam cup brew of yore; vegan donuts are now on display; and social media accounts blast photos of colorful new creations. The donuts themselves are still stuck in the 1960s. That’s a very good thing.
How it began: While shopping for their family’s first starter home, Ralph and Celia Primo instead bought a donut shop. The plan was to build the business for a year or two and then sell it so they could buy a better house. More than half a century later, they’re still making donuts. Their family and business grew, and now an extended family of customers includes countless West L.A. residents, who’ve fallen for the Primo’s warm from-the-heart service and hot from-the-fryer donuts.
Even if you snooze through the morning’s freshest donuts, raised dough at Primo’s stays soft until it closes in the afternoon. But early birds will get the warm. Most regulars will swear by the orthodox donuts here. They are museum- quality Americana. The celebrated buttermilk bar has a bronzed crust and a rich flavor. Raised glazed donuts melt in your mouth, and each icing variation offers full flavor with no artificial short-cuts. Primo’s is equally known for seasonal whimsies such as pastel Easter donuts and baseball-shaped Dodger donuts during the playoff rallies. When we went, they displayed patriotic donuts celebrating the 4th, and paying tribute to their realization of the American dream.
Our favorite donuts are the blueberry cake, the buttermilk bar, and the raspberry jelly-filled. But everything is scrumptious. Cinnamon roll-style donuts are particularly recommended for someone who wants a big, two-handed pastry.