Like little gems at a jewelry store or gallery, the donuts at newcomer Donut Savant are not your typical dunk-and-bite variety. A mix of sizes – but primarily the shape of puffed up donut holes – these donuts buck tradition more by their appearance than taste.

When you bite into them, they’re the airy donut cake you’ve probably tasted in the past. The creativity comes in the glaze and shape, with donuts covered in bright refreshing lemon glaze or shaped like tiny cinnamon buns.

Opened for about a month, Donut Savant is a one-woman show headed by Laurel Davis, who moved from Seattle and started making donuts because she couldn’t find any locally that she liked. These days she’s in the back of the store, which was previously a donut shop before it closed, making her donuts in small batches.

Maple bars (above) and cinnamon buns (bottom)

Because she’s making the donuts herself in small batches, the display counters can empty out quickly when someone comes in and buys a boxful. With many of the donuts selling for 75 cents or $1, I can see how a lot of the nearby office workers can swoop in and buy a box for the office without breaking the bank.

Donut Savant is close to my office in Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood, so I can make the donuts a nice afternoon snack. I enjoy the lemon glazed donuts, called Lemon Best, for the fresh lemon flavor, while the chocolate or maple bars give you a bit more donut dough with their rectangular shape.

Davis plays with her flavors with some specialty donuts, such as the popular “chocolate bomb,” which is a chocolate donut with whisky. Unfortunately, the chocolate bomb has been elusive to me because Davis only makes it now and then and you have to religiously follow her Twitter feed to know when they come out of the oven (and you have to get them fast because they sell out quickly).

I did get a chance to try Davis’ experimentation of a Boston cream pie, when she let me taste a fresh batch of these little donuts covered with dark chocolate and filled with cream. It was a nice little bite of cake and cream, and I’m always a sucker for filled donuts. So I’m hoping Davis will be making more of these.

A test bite of Donut Savant's Boston cream pie donut

Not being a regular donut eater, I’m excited about Donut Savant because of its perfectly sized donuts and the changing flavors that pop into Davis’ mind. My afternoons are so much better these days.

Donut Savant, 1934 Broadway (between 19th and 20th Streets), Oakland. PH: 510.972.8268. Open Mon.–Fri., 7 a.m.–3 p.m.; and Sat., 8 a.m.–2 p.m.


Lemon Best are donuts with a fresh lemon glaze

Even the apple fritters come in small sizes


The large store provides a lot of room to drink coffee and snack on your donut selection

7 Responses to Fresh Offerings of Little Donut Bites

  1. Todd X. says:

    This place looks great. The owner’s from Seattle, huh? Is there TopPot Doughnut magic in her blood? I can’t wait to try it out.

    • Ben Ben says:

      I’ve never been to TopPot Doughnut but sounds enticing! When you check this out, let me know if it compares.

  2. Sandy says:

    I’ve recently been on a bit of a donut binge– I had some amazing mini donuts in Brooklyn but it looks like I may be able to satisfy my “little donut” craving here now! YUMMY! Guess I better visit the East Bay soon!

  3. Foodhoe says:

    I love apple fritters they are always so enormous, how big are these in diameter would you say? Are they opened on the weekend? I like the small size!

    • Ben Ben says:

      I know, my close up photos probably didn’t give much perspective. But the apple fritters, while bigger than the donut holes, weren’t super big. I would say they’re a bit smaller than a hockey puck? I’m just guessing from memory now.

      The store is opened only on Saturday. Hours are pretty short and sometimes they close Saturdays for special events. So check the twitter or facebook fan page.

  4. Carolyn Jung says:

    I love the daintier size. They look very much like the type of donuts so many high-end restaurants are serving for dessert. I hope she does well — and opens up another place near me. 😉