City Garden Doughnuts in Santa Rosa is Brioche-a-licious

City Garden Doughnuts is a garden of doughnut delights.

City Garden Doughnuts have quickly become the unofficial-official doughnut of Santa Rosa.

Why? Because these aren’t workaday donuts or wacky cereal-coated marshmallow-dipped curiosities that are more fun to look at than eat. Instead, City Garden takes a more subtle approach using intensely-flavored glazes made with fresh fruit (the lemon glaze is perfectly pucker-worthy) and chocolate atop pillowy brioche.

Let’s take a tiny time-out to appreciate the brioche process. Unlike traditional donuts often made from a mix, City Garden uses a scratch baking technique with plenty of fresh local butter, milk and flour, and up to a day of proofing process for richer, but less greasy, crave-worthy result. Just like a donut ought to be.

Bee pollen atop the Lover’s Lane. City Garden Doughnuts in Santa Rosa, Heather Irwin/PD

Over a couple of lattes and two trays of donuts, owner Alan McCandless said he planned to either open a donut shop or a hamburger place. Or maybe a pizzeria. Donuts won, and over the last six months he created City Garden Doughnuts — named for the 1860’s-era Santa Rosa public garden that once stood nearby.

It’s not that Alan isn’t decisive about what he wanted, it’s just that he loves food a whole lot, and sees edible inspiration everywhere. The South Jersey native recently created the Santa Barbara donut after a trip south and a stop at the famous Rori’s Creamery, where he tried their black pepper pistachio. Enamored, he translated the ice cream into a donut, adding fresh lemon glaze. And voila, an amazing donut. McCandless, who is a bit camera shy, has partnered with wife Terri McCandless and business partner Jeff Bertoli.

The Santa Barbara at City Garden Doughnuts in Santa Rosa, (courtesy)

Other favorites: A maple bacon combo (made with Hobbs bacon) that’s a taste of Sunday morning any day of the week; orange-glazed with fresh orange juice and zest; strawberry glazed and Guittard chocolate with sea salt.

But wait, there’s a whole lot more. The “Hobbs” scone is (and we don’t say this lightly) the best scone we’ve ever had. Unlike the dusty hockey pucks we’ve had too many places, this version falls apart like a stood up prom date, but with a whole lot of bacon, Vella cheddar and green onion inside. Flavor-full!

Richard at City Garden Doughnuts in Santa Rosa, Heather Irwin/PD

Coffee is from Ukiah’s Black Oak Roasters, and City Garden barista, Richard, made us several of their signature lattes—“Borgia” with infused orange zest and the “Lover’s Lane”, made with honey and garnished with bee pollen from hives tended by the owner of Black Oak. Richard’s own creation is the ‘Potle, made with smoked chipotle and Dutch chocolate that’s a less cloying version take on a Mexican hot chocolate.

City Garden Doughnuts is at 1200 4th St, Santa Rosa, 595-1932,


13 thoughts on “City Garden Doughnuts in Santa Rosa is Brioche-a-licious

  1. Happy to eat the doughnuts you make.
    Having spent a lifetime in professional kitchens I am always proud of a stand out kitchen like yours.
    So far- I’ve tried the chocolate with chocolate jimmies, lovers lane cake, orange glaze cake and huckleberry – delicious and worth every penny.

  2. The owners’ tirades on Facebook whenever someone posts a less-than-glowing review really doesn’t inspire me to give this place a try. If they’re going to be small business owners, especially in the food industry, they need to grow up, develop a thicker skin and stop scolding their customers along the lines of “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” smh.

    1. You are absolutely correct. As a new business owners it has become very clear that we have to learn to accept the good with the bad reviews and comments. Being exhausted and working long hours has a tendency to shorten the fuse and has allowed a ‘how dare you” amateur response on our part. Trust me, we are getting over it and hope that does not discourage you from trying us out. Thank you.

  3. i live in the memorial hospital neighborhood, and have been keeping an eye on this place! it is VERY EXCITING to have fancy donuts right by my house! that pistachio black pepper lemon one sounds divine, you can’t go wrong with maple bacon, and i have GOT to try that cinnamon tea and fancy lattes!

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