Restaurant of the Week: Painted Dough

Painted Dough Donuts, 5702 Riverside Drive (at Benson), Chino; open 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Tuesday, 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday

A friend told me about Painted Dough, an unusually named and creative doughnut shop, but as is often the case it took me months to wind up there, not having a lot of reason to drive to Chino for breakfast.

But recently I had morning business in Chino and made a point of seeking out the business. It’s in a standalone building with a drive-through; one sign still reads Donut Avenue, the previous occupant, but the staff says it will be changed out soon.

They have regular and specialty doughnuts, plus muffins and a few other bakery items. Unusually, but cleverly, they offer other kinds of food to get them through the day and evening: not steam table Chinese but burgers, tacos, burritos, tortas, bowls, plus coffee, smoothies and ice cream. This must be one of the few doughnut shops in America that also sells carne asada fries.

I noticed such specialty doughnuts as red velvet, horchata, ube, apple pie, Pop-Tart and ones decorated to resemble Wonder Woman, Pikachu, Elmo, Hello Kitty and the Mutant Ninja Turtles. The fancier ones are $3.50, the standards (glazed, maple, bars, etc.) $2.

I got a Homer Simpson ($2), with the classic pink frosting and multi-colored sprinkles seen on “The Simpsons.” It was soft, fluffy and sweet with a strawberry taste.

A little girl nearby downed a Wonder Woman doughnut, showed her red-stained hand to her father and said proudly, “My hand is going to be red all day!”

The shop seemed popular and the staff friendlier than the norm. On a weekday this week I made a special trip. The specialty offerings were largely different and included one with Ghiradelli chocolate and another with Butterfingers. That seemed too indulgent for my breakfast.

I picked up a Spider-Man ($3.50) for a friend, who later described it as “soft, ever so slight crunch on the outside,” and a blueberry ($2) for myself. Probably half the powder on top ended up on the table.

I don’t know that I would go back for carne asada fries, but I would definitely go back for the doughnuts. An employee told me that with notice and a sketch he can make any sort of character doughnut, which means Painted Dough could be a low-cost alternative to springing for a cake.

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Restaurant of the Week: Grizzly’s Biscuits and Donuts

Grizzly’s Biscuits and Donuts, 353 W. Bonita Ave. (at Indian Hill), Claremont; open daily 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

It’s the first place in the Village to sell fresh doughnuts (newspapers’ preferred spelling, btw) in this century. Grizzly’s opened in April and was an immediate hit, because: doughnuts. Also because: good doughnuts.

It’s from the team that brought us Pappas Artisanal in La Verne, one of the area’s better dining options. Grizzly’s sells small-batch doughnuts, about six styles per day, from $2 to $3.50, plus biscuit sandwiches from $7 to $9. They use choice ingredients, some of them locally sourced, like Chino eggs, and good for them.

Doughnuts first: I’ve had the glazed, chocolate raised, vanilla crumb, raspberry Nutella, apple fritter and strawberry rhubarb fritter. They got off to a good start with me because the glazed was still warm. There is nothing like a warm doughnut, when the icing is still gooey. Grizzly’s doughnuts are less sweet than we’re used to, but they have more flavor. The only one of the above I wouldn’t get again is the vanilla crumb; the crumbs largely fell off onto the bag as I ate.

Now, biscuits? An unexpected concept — do people go out for biscuits? — but in sandwich form, these are worth trying. I’ve had the Harper (cheddar, sunny side egg, roasted onions, garlic aioli) and the Baseline (bacon, cheddar, sunny side egg, roasted onions, garlic aioli, pictured below), both of which were very good as well as filling, the sort of breakfast that keeps you going past lunchtime. Plain biscuits are $2 each.

An editor here got the Le Monde (egg whites, mushrooms, roasted onions, spinach, swiss cheese, chickpea garlic sauce) and was both wowed and relieved our office isn’t next door.

That said, one Claremont loyalist put off by the pricing told me she’d rather get one of Some Crust’s famous egg sliders for a couple of bucks less, and if you just want a dozen doughnuts for the office, you might be better off going to Yum Yum for a wider variety at a cheaper price. (Or to Cake Among Us in Rancho Cucamonga.) But if you’re the foodie type, Grizzly’s is the best spot this side of Glendora’s Donut Man.

There’s limited seating. Also, you may find a line out the door, especially after my colleague Liset Marquez’s feature story on the business a few days ago, but don’t be deterred: Because the doughnuts are displayed right inside the door, any time there’s more than, say, three customers, one of them will be outside. Good marketing.

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Restaurant of the Week: Cake Among Us Bakery & Donuts

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Cake Among Us, 7890 Haven Ave., (at Town Center), Rancho Cucamonga; open 4:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, closed Sundays

Cake Among Us vaulted into prominence late in 2016 when a state-by-state ranking of doughnut shops on BuzzFeed chose it to represent California. The list is titled “The Best Doughnut Shop in Every State,”┬áthe rankings determined via Yelp star ratings and number of reviews. Skip to No. 5 to find Cake Among Us.

Here the alleged best doughnut shop in California was in Rancho Cucamonga — and I’d never heard of it. How could I live this down?┬áBut I quickly tracked it down and had breakfast there, not once but three times, as well as a sort of lunch with friends.

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First off, it’s not precisely a doughnut shop, but rather a bakery with doughnuts, scones, danishes, cupcakes, wedding cakes and more. That said, they do have a fair number of doughnuts, many of them creative, and all the ones I’ve tried are quite good. They even have vegan doughnuts.

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They’ve included lemon-filled with vanilla frosting and raspberry icing, apple-filled, honey wheat blueberry (dense, chewy, with real blueberry flavor) and an apple fritter (light, not burnt-looking as many are, with bits of apple).

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With friends, we got a half-dozen that included cream cheese, one person’s favorite, and pineapple, another’s. One had Nutella and peanut butter.

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“All the doughnuts were really good,” the wife said. “They were all good,” her husband allowed, “but it wasn’t like ‘this is the best.'” That’s the problem with being ranked No. 1: It’s hard to live up to. Their daughter seemed to like them all and went off in a glaze haze.

Another customer was picking up a cake. The message in icing: “We’re Here for the Sex!” Next to that were pink and blue footprints. Ha ha. Must be for a baby shower. I got cupcakes later that day for a friend’s birthday party. Among the flavors they have: creamsicle, raspberry, Oreo and peanut butter.

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It took me a while, by the way, but eventually the pun in the store name became clear and I liked the place all the more.

Is Cake Among Us better than, say, Donut Man in Glendora? Perhaps not, especially with Donut Man being 24 hours. But Cake Among Us is really good.

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