Perhaps the most wonderful thing about doughnuts is that they’re the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel that they resemble, but in miniature, sugar-laden form. Santa Barbara has embraced the form since at least 1939, which is when the blue-collar Spudnuts came to town. And in 2018, we welcomed modern gourmet versions thanks to the scratch-made Hook & Press Donuts.
So it’s smart that the brand-new Onus Donuts isn’t trying to reinvent the tasty morning treats — instead, it’s using them to break up the sea of bars and restaurants along Lower State Street. And soon, patrons who pour out of said bars will be able to soak up their adult beverages with fried dough once Onus stays open ’til late night Thursdays through Saturdays. But for now, owner Juan Jimenez and general manager Rob Glaus — who have been best buds since the 7th grade — are simply dialing in their doughnuts.
The selection, which ranges in price from $1.25 to $2.75, is mostly back to basics with a few nods to 21st-century morsels. There are OG glazed and crumb doughnuts perfect for dunking into the Dune Coffee they serve. For kids and those who are kid-like, there’s a “doughnut kabob,” which is half a dozen sprinkled doughnut holes on a stick. More mature offerings include a blueberry cake doughnut iced with lemon-vanilla glaze and a few fresh blueberries and lemon zest plugging the hole. There are also vegan options, but the early-on best seller is maple bacon.
That’s not surprising, considering that Jimenez is part of the family that has owned and operated Cajun Kitchen since 1984. Hoping to transfer that beloved restaurant chain’s welcoming, comforting vibe, Jimenez carried over the old-fashioned aesthetic to Onus Donuts, which features a stool-lined counter. “The diner feel totally came from there,” said Jimenez. “Anybody can come here and find what they like, and the doughnut menu won’t be weird to anyone.”
There are plans to introduce breakfast foods in the future, but beware, bar-goers: those forthcoming late-night offerings will likely remain dessert-focused.
413 State St.; (805) 770-8066; onusdonuts.com