Primo’s Donuts (Sawtelle): Buttermilk Bars, Glazed Donuts, and More

Primo’s Donuts is absolutely a Los Angeles institution, and while it’s a quaint little shop, the stars of the show are the donuts inside.

Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 9.58.28 PM.png
Celia Primo, one of the founders of Primo’s Donuts. (Courtesy Primo’s Donuts).


Located at 2918 Sawtelle Boulevard, Primo’s opened up all the way back in 1956 and is still quite popular to this day. I mean, just look at this snippet from Baking Buyer Magazine that they posted on their website:

One spring day back in 1956, the family was driving down Los Angeles’ Sawtelle Boulevard when junior spied a giant plywood donut sitting atop a nondescript strip-mall storefront. “Donut, Donut!” the boy cried. The Primos were on their way home after a disappointing day of house hunting. An offer they had made fell through, their hopes of fulfilling the American dream dampened. But a hungry three-year-old could care less about building a life. “Donut, Donut!” he insisted. His father pulled over.

At the time, Ralph Primo was a night student and would soon want to take on a second job for the summer. So he asked the shop’s owner about part-time work. The store keeper, Paul Hodges, said he didn’t need any help. He said that after six months in the business he was giving up and selling the donut shop.

“For how much?” Primo remembers asking. “Two thousand dollars,” the owner said.

When he returned to the car with the bag of donuts, Primo told Celia they had just bought the shop. “WHAT?!!!” exclaimed a rather shocked wife. “Look honey,” Primo said, “we’ll run the business for a year – build it up – then sell it and we’ll get a better house.”

I mean, how can you not root for a family business like that?

The donuts

The donuts here are fantastic and classic. It’s not so much that they’re really wacky and strange donuts like you sometimes see at the novelty donut places in Los Angeles or Portland, but moreso that they’re very well-executed. Just take a look at the following and say with a straight face that your mouth doesn’t water just a little.

Glazed buttermilk bar

Glazed Buttermilk
(Courtesy Primo’s Donuts)

Fluffy on the inside, hardened on the outside. Just like me!

Chocolate buttermilk bar

Chocolate Buttermilk
(Courtesy Primo’s Donuts)

Chocolate makes everything better–unless you’re allergic to chocolate, that is.

Glazed twist

Glazed Twist
(Courtesy Primo’s Donuts)

I mean, this just looks fun.

Tiger tail

Tiger Tail
(Courtesy Primo’s Donuts)

This is just so visually appealing.

Maple bacon crunch bar

Maple Bacon Crunch Bar
(Courtesy Primo’s Donuts)

Why not add bacon?

Round glazed

Round Glazed
(Courtesy Primo’s Donuts)

They execute the round glazed very, very well here.

Blueberry cake

Blueberry Cake
(Courtesy Primo’s Donuts)

I love a good cake donut once in a while.

Cherry raised sprinkles

Cherry Raised Sprinkles
(Courtesy Primo’s Donuts)

For a nice visual punch with flavor to boot.

In the words of Steve Rogers, “I can do this all day.” But I won’t. You’re just going to have to go to Primo’s (and the earlier is probably for the better, because they certainly do run out of the more popular stuff) and find out for yourself.


Parking isn’t too bad; there’s a lot in the back, and spaces are usually open. Be cognizant that some spaces are for the adjacent bank, so don’t do anything that would make them angry!

Instagram roundup

So many great posts about Primo’s Donuts that showcase the awesome donuts you can cop.